We are halfway through 2020. And as I sit here at my weekend retreat watching the sun shining through the trees and hearing the river flowing so peacefully, I am reminded to count my blessings. 


This has been a difficult year. The world is … I don’t even know a word to describe it. And surviving all this year has thrown at us this without your person makes it even harder.  I miss Jared every day. Every single one. Especially holidays. 


We always celebrated the Fourth of July. We hung out with friends, laughed, and let off fireworks at night. It was a day of community. I had no idea when we celebrated July 4, 2014 that it would be the last holiday we would spend together. That the next year he would have the best view of all the fireworks. And that we would look to the sky for a sign. And we would be blessed to see a heart shaped firework and just know it was him.


Now, six years later, we still celebrate the Fourth of July. For the first three years, my son and I stayed home and celebrated with friends. Just like we always had a Jared. But in 2018, I had met someone new. And we decided to celebrate the Fourth of July together. Start new traditions. Make new memories. I still miss Jared. Still think of him every time the fireworks go off. Look for a sign. And at the same time, I smile as I look at my new family and the joy we get from spending time together.


This year we did something completely different. COVID-19 has changed all of our plans. Made us cancel most of our adventures. So at the last minute, we hopped into the car, drove north to Georgia and planned a little mountain getaway. Yesterday, to celebrate Independence Day we went white water rafting. And my new husband and Steven were in the front of the raft. To see the way they interacted, teased each other, and helped each other warmed my heart. This was something Steven never got to do with his dad. But can do with Jon, 


Making new memories with Jon, will never ever erase the memories he made with his dad. Loving Jon doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his dad. Laughing with Jon doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss his dad. He does. Every day. But his dad told Steven when he was happy on earth, Jared would be happy in heaven. And Steven wants to make his dad happy. 


So at 16, he is living his best life. Loving those who love him. Without question. Unconditionally. Forgiving those who have wronged him, even if they don’t apologize. Life is too short for holding onto anger.  Making new memories. Saying yes to all of life‘s adventures.  He knows the best way to honor his dad is to live his life to the fullest.  


And yesterday, as we were laughing in our raft, we were definitely living our best life. Saying yes to the adventure. And loving those who love us. Jared would’ve been proud.  All of the fireworks last night, that was him telling us so.  


I am counting my blessings that Jared is still part of our Fourth of July celebration.  When we see fireworks, we think of him.  Love never dies, it explodes in the sky. 



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.