The holidays are such a hard time of year. During this time of year, I always miss Jared even more. I wish he was here to go to the pumpkin patch. To help Steven carve his pumpkin. To help scare the trick-or-treaters. I wish he was here to go on our Thanksgiving vacation. To eat our non-traditional dinner. I wish he was here to help us decorate the house and put the ornaments on the tree. To go to mass on Christmas Eve as a family. To sing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus. To see the joy on Steven’s face as he opens the gift he so desperately wanted. To join in all the fun, traditions, and spirit of the holiday season. To share in all the things that he is missing.


Over the last few years, I have found the will to live.  Have moved forward.  Found new love. But that doesn’t mean that the ache for Jared is gone. This year I will again celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with my new husband.  But I will still miss Jared. People are not replaceable. Having Jon here to celebrate the holidays doesn’t  mean Jared’s absence won’t be felt. As I sit and write my annual Christmas Eve letter to Jared and share with him my feelings and thoughts as the year comes to an end, I will thank him. Thank him for giving me such a solid foundation of love. Thank him for all the holidays that we did get to share together. Thank him for going along with all of my traditions without complaining. Thank him for building so many traditions and memories with me.  Traditions that Steven will remember forever. 


As Halloween rolls into Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving turns into Christmas, and Christmas becomes New Year’s, I will often think of Jared. As I watch Steven in the mountains, I will think I wish his dad was here. As we put the ornaments on the tree and Jared’s letter in his stocking, I will think damn I wish Jared was here. On New Year’s Eve as the clock strikes midnight, I will think it’s another year ending and a new one beginning.that will never know Jared.  


And yet I will also enjoy the holidays for all they are now. Count my blessings that I have an amazing son and a beautiful bonus daughter.  Enjoy honoring old traditions and starting new ones.  Feel the excitement of getting to share that kiss with someone special at midnight.  And truly be thankful that I have been blessed with two love stories with two amazing men. And that just because Jared can’t physically be here to celebrate the holidays, doesn’t mean he won’t be included.  


Yes, the holidays are hard. I am constantly reminded that Jared cannot be here to enjoy our traditions and celebrations. But I will always carry him in my heart. And his spirit will be wherever I am.  There will always be a place for him at my table. I can honor Jared while celebrating the holiday season with my new love and our children. 


The holidays are hard and make me miss Jared even more.  And yet, they fill my heart with joy and make me smile.  I am so thankful for all the holidays I spent with Jared.  And even more so that he is still a part of our family traditions. 


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.