Today I was thinking back to five years ago. It had been almost 2 years since Jared died. 23 months to be exact. And I realized just how much healing can happen in one weekend. And just how much one decision over a weekend could change my life.  


The biggest sign of healing came when I cleaned out the bathroom cabinets.  Sounds silly, right? But as I cleaned out my bathroom cabinets, I came across so many of Jared things. His mouth wash, his hairbrush, his sinus rinse, and the basin he brought home from the hospital with all of those hospital belongings (shampoo, lotion, socks, all those things they give you when you are admitted to the hospital).  


When I looked at the mouthwash, I realized it expired the year before. Who knew mouthwash expired? When I looked at the sinus rinse I thought, why did I keep this? When I looked at the hospital basin all I could remember were those dreadful last days. So I decided it was time to throw away the mouthwash. Throw away the sinus rinse. And throw away that hospital basin. 


I kept Jared’s hair brush. I gave it to Steven. He had been using it since his dad died so I had him take it to his bathroom. And I kept Jared’s toothbrush. I know for some that would be crazy but his electric toothbrush, I just couldn’t bear to part with so I just put it under the sink. And I still have it to this day.  Why?  I have no idea. But I’m not quite ready to toss it out. 


And unless you’ve had to clean out the belongings of the person you loved most in this world, you cannot understand how hard it is to make the decision to throw something away. It may feel like you’re throwing a part of your person away. Or that you are throwing away a memory. Or that you’re throwing away something of sentimental value. But his mouthwash, the sinus rinse, and the hospital basin had no good memories. I had no sentimental attachment to them. And I could hear Jared say why in the hell do you still have those things? So I threw them away. And I don’t regret it at all. 


While I was cleaning the bathroom cabinets, I found a note that Jared and I have passed back and forth for many years with a simple I love you on it. I don’t know the last time I saw that note. And after I threw away his mouthwash, sinus rinse and hospital basin, I found it in my bathroom cabinet. It gave me such peace. 


Being able to clean out that cabinet and throw away those items showed me that I am healing. It was something tangible that I could touch, that I could see that said yes, I am healing. 


All the grief work has not been for nothing. I have made great steps in my healing. Do I still have a way to go? Absolutely. But I will make it. And I know my late husband is right beside me every step of the way saying I love you and you can do it. So yes, that weekend was one of healing. And yes, it was emotionally exhausting, but I am grateful for the healing. And I am looking forward to seeing how I go forth on my journey.


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.