When my late husband died, my son lost his father.  The man a boy should always be able to depend on. And I feared that my son would be lost without his dad. But he persevered and is a wonderful young man.  A young man who will always miss his dad.  


And one day, fate changed things.  A wonderful man came into our lives.  A man who is an amazing father figure to my son.  A man who can never replace my late husband and doesn’t try to.  A man who loves my son while honoring Jared.  


My son and I often talk about his dad.  What he would think. If he would like something.  Wonder what his reaction would be. And we share stories of our life together.  We do this to keep Jared alive. We do this because we can’t make any new memories.  We do this because our lives were forever changed the day Jared died. 


And my new husband often joins in.  Will tell my son I wish your dad was here to see.  Say I know your dad is proud of you. Reminds my son that even though he isn’t Steven’s dad, he loves him like his own son.  


When something monumental happens in Steven’s life, I always think I wish Jared was here.  That Jared could see him now. And of how proud Jared would be. At the same time, I am grateful Jon, my new husband is there to share in the moment.  This, this duality of loss, is my new normal. 


My new normal is wishing one person could be there while at the same time being grateful someone else is present.  It’s wishing for what was while being grateful for what is. And one doesn’t take away from the other.  


We are huge Gator fans, we bleed orange and blue, but my late husband’s second favorite team was the Fighting Irish.  He always wanted to take me to see Touchdown Jesus. My new husband is a Navy graduate but cheers for my Gators. Recently, Notre Dame played Navy.  The irony of that is not lost on me. On game day, my son came down wearing a Navy shirt. I told him his dad would be upset to see him cheering against Notre Dame.  And he said yes, but Jon is proud and dad knows I don’t like Notre Dame. This is his duality of loss. Loving and missing his dad. Wanting to make his dad proud. At the same forging a relationship with the man who is his father figure. He will always love and miss his dad.  Always. And at the same time he loves his stepdad. One does not take away from the other. 


Duality of loss.  It is part of our life.  And always will be. We have to take the pain of loss with the joy of living.  Cherish old memories while making new ones. Enjoy all whom we love. Because we know tomorrow is not guaranteed. 


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.