My son recently did his senior photo session for school. It was another one of those bittersweet moments. A moment I wish his dad was here to witness.  There have been so many countless bittersweet moments since Jared died.

As we were preparing for his photo shoot, my son asked if he could take his favorite photo of him and his dad. He wanted his dad to be part of this special event. My heart was bursting with love. And full of ache that my son had to take a photo to the shoot instead of his dad.


His favorite photo is of him and his dad in front of the waterfall while on a catamaran ride in Hawaii. The picture was taken four months before his dad died. And it’s one of the last pictures they took together. It has always been his favorite photo.  I had it enlarged so he could take it with him to his photo shoot.


When he showed the picture to the photographer and explained that he wanted a photo with his dad, the photographer went out of his way to make the shoot extra special. I snapped a photo but mine is nothing compared to the photographer’s. When I look at the photo I took, I see is the look on my son’s face. The love.  The heartache.  The depth of the loss. My son is blinking back tears. Had to look away from the picture to compose himself. That’s what I remember from the photo I snapped. The love between a father and a son. A love that death could not end. A bond that will last a lifetime. 


That photo was taken almost 8 years ago. My son was just a little boy. Nine years old. And now he is a young man. At 17 he looks so much like his dad it takes my breath away. And he has the kindest, most compassionate heart of anyone I know. I am so proud to be his mom.


I think that because he suffered such a tragic loss at such a young age his heart is full of love and kindness. Instead of making him angry, his father’s death made him compassionate. It taught him how important life is. How important love is. How important it is to not waste a minute of each day we are given.


I wish his dad could’ve been there for this milestone moment. He would be so very proud of the young man our son has become. He would’ve love to see him pose in his football jersey. My son wears 77 in honor of his dad. He would’ve love to see him in his lacrosse sweatshirt. He would’ve been so proud of Steven for trying a new sport and excelling in it.  Jared would’ve looked at our son and said I can’t believe our baby boy is so grown. And Jared would’ve smiled. He would’ve smiled a proud smile the entire photo shoot. And he also would have laughed. Laughed at Steven being forced to pose because our child hates to have his photo taken. And Jared definitely would’ve made a few smart ass comments as well. Even though he wasn’t there physically, I felt Jared the entire time.


I wish his dad could’ve been there. And I am so grateful that I could be. That I get the privilege of being his mom. Watching him grow into this wonderful young man. Getting to share stories of his dad with him. Knowing his dad is smiling with pride from heaven.


Not every kid wants to take a photo with their dad at their senior shoot. I’m so thankful mind did. It is a photo we will both treasure for a lifetime.



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.