This is our 6th Christmas without Jared.  Our 6th time decorating without him. Our 6th time filling his stocking with love.  Our 6th year doing Christmas without him. 


Decorating the tree is a bittersweet time for me.  All of our ornaments are memories. Memories of places we’ve traveled.  Memories of special moments of each year. Memories of a lifetime of love and adventure.  


The first year Jared died, I couldn’t get in the attic and bring down the decorations. I couldn’t bring myself to decorate without him. And my wonderful friends showed up at my house, without me having to ask, and took all the decorations out of my attic and decorated my home. And they even put both of our Christmas trees up. The only thing they didn’t do was decorate the trees. Because they knew our trees are full of memories. And they left that for Steven and I to do in our own time, i. our own way.


This year as I unwrapped the memories (every ornament on our tree is from someplace we’ve traveled or to mark a special occasion in our lives) I got a little teary eyed.  I missed Jared. And wished he could be here to make more memories. But I also smiled as I felt and remembered the life and love we shared. The places we visited. The stories Steven and I will always hold dear.  The love that will always be present because I will always carry Jared in my heart. 


And then I unwrapped the ornaments from the last few years.  The memories my new family has made. And I smiled as I realized how blessed I am.  I have a second chance at love and happiness. A new family with whom to take new adventures.  More memories to make. Love to share. All while remembering the life I shared with Jared. 


When I put the angel on the tree, I thought of all of those who will be celebrating Christmas in heaven.  And how because of that angel, my tree has roots and wings. Just like life.


Christmas is so much more than what’s under the tree.  It’s who’s around it. The memories made. The love shared. 


So, even though decorating the Christmas tree is bittersweet, I am beyond grateful for the memories.    Grateful that I am willing to fly and seek new adventures. All while never forgetting my roots.  


My tree will continue to be full of memories. I can’t wait to relive the old ones while making new ones. 


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.