As Valentine’s Day approaches, I am reminded that my love story is different than most. My last husband isn’t here to buy me flowers, give me a special card, or bring me chocolates. As I think about the day of love, my heart aches. Then, I realize that I know what love is. Not what Hallmark says it should be, but what love truly is.


Love is holding someone on their hardest day.


Love is honoring that vow in sickness and in health.


Love is knowing the vow till death do us part is going to apply to you. And you continue to live, laugh, and love because of this knowledge.


Love is knowing that despite the pain and heartache of grief, you were blessed to know true love. And you would do it all over again.


Love is that pit in the bottom of your stomach when you know something terrible is about to happen but you face it head on anyway because your love is stronger than your fear.


Love is a 3 hour drive to the hospital praying the whole way that your husband survives. 


Love is looking in the eyes of your husband when he tells you he is sorry that you have to watch him die.


Love is holding your husband as he takes his final breath, kissing him on the forehead,  and promising him you would be okay.


Love is watching the person you love more than anything in this world try so hard to be brave and strong for you.


Love is holding your little boy and telling him that daddy went to heaven and then feeling his heart wrenching sobs.


Love is your friends surrounding you on the worst day of your life without you even having to ask.


Love is those same friends  5 ½ years later still surrounding you with love.


Love is knowing that your love story will never end.


Love is knowing that you were someone’s forever love.


Love is looking at your little boy and seeing his daddy.


Love is remembering your husband’s laugh.  Oh, how I miss his laugh.


Love is your son looking at you and hearing him say I need $50 to take you out to for Valentines Day. And laughing, because you know he has no idea that without a reservation there will be no eating out on Valentine’s Day.


Love is the wonderful memories of past Valentine’s Days.  Like the time your husband made your Valentine’s card out of a paper airplane and “flew” it to you. Or the time he wrote you a poem about how he wasn’t allowed to buy you flowers.  Or the year he sent you a bouquet of your wedding roses.


So, while I may not be able to celebrate Valentine’s Day with Jared, I have a heart full of love.  And even though Jared won’t be here to tell me “you know this is a Hallmark holiday, I love you everyday.”  I will feel his love in my heart.


And on this day of love, while you  may not be celebrating in the traditional sense, still celebrating your love story. Yes, my widowed love story is different but maybe, just maybe it’s even better. Because my widowed love story is forever.



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.