Monday I will be celebrating my 19th wedding anniversary. But I will not be celebrating it with my husband. I will celebrate it as I have celebrated every anniversary for the last five years.  Alone. Jared died seven days, exactly one week before our 14th wedding anniversary. And for me, our wedding anniversary is one of the hardest grief days.


People remember his birthday. People remember his angelversary. On those days, I often receive texts, phone calls, and Facebook comments letting me know that others are thinking of us.  But our wedding anniversary, that was just a day for the two of us. Almost no one remembers it except me. Very few people, if anyone will reach out via text message. There will be no phone calls. No Facebook comments. It’s a day that was special to just Jared and I.  And that’s what makes it one of the most difficult days. The person who shared it with me, who understood just how important the day was, and cared about that day is gone. 


It was a special day just for us. The day we officially started our lives together. The day we said I do. The day we became Mr. and Mrs.  And it ended much too soon. I wouldn’t trade a moment. We shared a lifetime of love in those 14 years. Made more memories and took more adventures than anyone I know. 


We had 14 wonderful years as husband and wife.  We had our ups and downs. Our good days and bad.  The days we fought and got mad at each other. And the days we loved and wouldn’t let go.  Our marriage wasn’t perfect. We weren’t perfect. But our love for each other was. And that love continues in me.  Guides me. Helps me move forward in my life. 


When Jared and I were getting married, my mother was afraid. Because she knew Jared’s disease, his cystic fibrosis meant he would die early. And she was afraid for my future broken heart. She didn’t want to see me suffer. Ever. But I told her, borrowing a line from Steel Magnolias, that I would rather have five years of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special. And God blessed me with 14 years of wonderful.


So on Monday, I will choose to celebrate that wonderful life.  Celebrate my marriage. Celebrate the anniversary. Honor the life that I had with a man who loved me until his dying day.  Honor the fact that I was his forever love. Honor our love that even death cannot end.  


Monday would have been my 19th wedding anniversary.  If Jared were still here, we would be planning what we would do next year to celebrate our 20th. A trip. A party. An adventure. But unfortunately, he took his last adventure without me. And now I celebrate our wedding anniversaries alone. But not really. Because I know he’s near.  Wrapping me in his love. A love that can never die. 


Long live love. 


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.