I recently had someone tell me that because I am remarried that I am not a widow. And I found this so offensive. Yes, I decided to move forward with my life. Yes, I found love again when I completely did not expect it. Yes, I took the chance and opened my heart to new love. Yes, I said I Do again.  


But none of that changes the fact that I will always be Jared’s widow.  None of that erases the grief, the heartache, the pain I have gone through these last five years.


Five years later and I still remember those early days. The pain. The grief. The emotional heartache. When my late husband died, that is when I learned that emotional pain could physically hurt. And no matter how many years pass, I will never forget that.  I will never forget being diagnosed with physical ailments because of my grief. And not understanding just how much loss of a spouse can affect your health. And more importantly, not caring if I died 


I will never forget forcing myself to get out of bed to care for my child. 

I will never forget forcing myself to go back to work because my husband, due to his chronic illness, had no life insurance and we had bills that had to be paid. 

I will never forget thinking how do people expect me to function when my husband just died?

I will never forget the countless times I cried myself to sleep. Cried in the car. Cried in the shower. Cried because my heart was truly broken.

I will never forget being so proud of myself just because I took a shower. Or congratulating myself because I drove my child to school and picked him up. Who cared that I cried the eight hours in between?

I will never forget the first gathering of friends that didn’t include my husband. And that it hurt so much that I had to leave. I could not stay and watch everyone enjoying themselves thinking he should be here.

I will never forget the first vacation we took without him. How dare we enjoy life and make new memories that didn’t include him?

I will never forget the realization that I had survived the first week, the first month, the first year. How could I go on living  when he was dead? 

I will never forget the guilt I felt the first time I laughed. How could I laugh when he was dead?

I will never forget thinking I cannot imagine living without him.  He was my whole world. My soulmate.

I will never forget feeling like I was watching my life happen all around me, not actually living it.

I will never forget living in a fog. Not remembering conversations. Places I visited. And I’ll never forget when the fog lifted, how much more the grief hurt. 

I will never forget struggling so hard just to keep my head off water when I felt like I was drowning in my grief.

I will never forget the first Tuesday I wasn’t sad. Or the first time the 16th of the month didn’t make me want to cry. 

I will never forget when, after two years, I decided to stop counting the months he had been gone. 

I will never forget the agony of being a new widow.  Never. 


Somewhere in my second year going into my third year of grief, things changed. I realized I wanted to live. Live for me. Not just for his memory. Not just to make him proud. But because it’s what I wanted. I realize that even though the girl I was when I was married to him died with him, I was still alive. And I was becoming my own person. A new person. I just needed to figure out who she was going to be. I wanted to be happy again. And then I felt guilty. Did I deserve to be happy when he was dead?  And I realized, that’s exactly what he would have wanted. And with that realization, I gave myself permission to live. To laugh. To enjoy life. To enjoy life, not just for him but for myself. And I realized that since he wasn’t here to enjoy all that life has to offer, it was my job to do so. And that day, marked a turning point in my grief.  


That was the day I realized that I had so much more in me. I had so much more to give. That I needed to teach my son all about living life to the fullest. That none of us are promised tomorrow, so take advantage of each day we are given. Don’t put off things. Don’t say I’ll do it “someday”. Make the time to do it now.  That was the day I decided I had to figure out who I was without him. Who I wanted to be. And make s plan to get to that girl. 


And I’m still a work in progress. Five years later.  I still have bad moments, bad days. Times when the grief comes out of nowhere and sucker punches me in the gut and drops me to my knees.  I still struggle watching my child grieve. One of the hardest things I have ever done is to parent a grieving child. I still feel guilty. Wish I had done things differently.  But, those moments of us now. I’ve learned to handle them better. I’ve learned that when he died, even though I felt like it, I didn’t die. I am still here. And I have a life to live. He would want that.  


Just because I am remarried, doesn’t mean I am no longer a widow. I will always be Jared’s widow. Once a widow, always a widow. No matter how much time passes, or how much new love I let into my life, I will never forget my late husband. I will never forget the love we shared. I will never stop loving him.  I will never forget watching him die. And I will never forget how hard and painful my widow journey has been. My grief will always be a part of me. Affect every decision I make. Guide me as I move forward. And for that, I will always be his widow.


Carla always knew she would be a widow but didn’t have any idea how it would actually feel. When Carla met her late husband Jared, he was waiting for a lung transplant due to Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic disease affecting the lungs and pancreas. So she knew that most likely someday she would say goodbye to her husband. But she never dreamt it would be exactly one week before their 14th wedding anniversary. In August 2014, Jared was diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection in his transplanted lung and was expected to survive at least 6 months if not a year. Instead, he died just 6 weeks later. And in the blink of an eye, Carla became a solo mom to their 10-year-old son. And even though her life was forever marked before and after, she was determined to live life to the fullest because her husband would expect no less.

She founded Breathing for Jared, a Foundation to provide college scholarships to those suffering from lung disease in honor of her late husband. Became a supporter of the CF Foundation and Donate Life. And discovered that writing out her emotions and fears on her blog Transplant Wife and Widow helped her to process her grief

Carla recently remarried and is now blending a family with her new husband, bonus daughter, and son.