Today I celebrated my 49th birthday in Africa. 



When my late husband and I started dating, we made a list of places we wanted to visit.  When he died, we had three places left.


In June of 2015, my son and I went on vacation to Alaska.  We took Jared with us in our hearts. We saw the Aura Borealis. We landed on a glacier. We took a train through the country. We marked one item off the list. 


And then there were 2 places left on the list.


In June of 2016, we went to a dude ranch in Wyoming and spent a week in Montana. Again we brought Jared with us.  He always wanted to see Big Sky country.  Said it was God’s country. And he was right.  That trip was one of the best Steven and I have ever taken. It was healing.  The first place my son said he felt truly happy since his dad died. 


And then there was one place left on the list. 


But today, my family started checking that item off. Jared always wanted to go on safari in Africa.  See a lion in the wild. But he never got the chance. So today, we are doing it for him. Today we landed in Africa.  And Monday we start on our safari.  I’m hoping and praying we see a lion.  Not just for Jared. But for me.  So I’ll know he is ok.  That he is here with us.  That he is happy with how we are living our lives. 


And then the list will be complete. 


And we will start a new list.  

Places we want to see.

Adventures we want to take.

Memories we will make. 


Jared will always be with us.  He is part of all our adventures. Even though he cannot be here to make new memories, we make memories for him.


My family is enjoying a day in Tanzania before we start our safari.  Today we wore our Breathing for Jared shirts.  Even though Jared can’t be here, my family helped honor him today.  Included him in our adventure. 


As we start our adventure, I’m looking forward to the memories we will make this week.  I love how we make new memories while honoring the past.

And I still can’t believe I celebrated my birthday in Africa. 


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.