For the first time, I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with my new husband’s family.  My family always traveled on this holiday. Went on an adventure. That has been our Thanksgiving tradition for years…travel somewhere new and eat local food.  This is what our family has always done. 


Not this year. My new husband has asked that we visit his family. Have a traditional Thanksgiving.  And I am respecting his wish. 


There’s just one problem. His family never knew my late husband.  His family won’t share in telling Jared stories. His family won’t include Jared in the blessing.  His family won’t leave an empty chair for Jared. I have never celebrated Thanksgiving that didn’t include Jared.  


Jared, Steven, and I have never been traditional Thanksgiving people.  We never enjoyed all the casseroles and such. The family and fellowship were great but the food was not our favorite.  So one year we decided to get away for the holiday and our Thanksgiving adventure tradition was born. Thanksgiving became the holiday for the 3 of us to share.  Celebrate the love our little family shared. It was one of the best times of the year. 


It is a tradition Steven and I continued after Jared died.  In fact, I met my new husband on one of our Thanksgiving adventures. 


But this year we will try something new. Perhaps start a new tradition.  But it is harder than it sounds.  


The thought of starting a new tradition that will never know Jared is frightening.  The thought of a holiday celebration where no one else knew Jared or will mention his name is a foreign concept to me.  


Jared is always welcome at my table.  There has been and always will be a place for him.  Even if there is not a literal empty chair at my table, Jared has his place.  His name is said, stories shared, his life remembered. What if this is not true at my new husband’s family table?  What if they don’t leave an empty chair? What if there is no place for those celebrating Thanksgiving in heaven? 


Blending families, celebrating holidays, honoring old traditions while making new ones is not easy.  I honestly don’t care where or how we celebrate Thanksgiving. I just want to celebrate the love my family shares.  And that will always include Jared. So even though I won’t be on a typical Thanksgiving adventure this year, I’ll still be having an adventure.  One that may become our new Thanksgiving tradition.  


I guess it doesn’t matter how my new husband’s family celebrates.  Because no matter where I am or how I celebrate the holiday, there will always be a place for Jared.  



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.