Seven years.

Yesterday and forever. 


September 16th will mark seven years since Jared died. Seven years since I last heard his voice. Seven years since my world changed. Seven years since I held Jared in my arms as he took his last breath. Seven years since we last shared an embrace. Seven years since I kissed him.


I have never felt so helpless, so lost, so empty as I did right after Jared died. 


My world forever changed at 7:50 pm on September 16, 2014. Life immediately became before and after. I couldn’t imagine surviving that night. The next day. The next week. The next month. And definitely not the next year. And yet, somehow, I have survived seven years. 


I will never forget the gut wrenching pain I felt that night and for many nights to come. I will never be able to erase Steven’s sobs of heartache from my memory. I will never forget the soul crushing pain that literally dropped me to my knees as the hearse left my house. 


That night forever changed me. I will never again be the person I was before that night.  That girl died with Jared. Someone new has taken her place. Now words like widow and late husband are part of my daily vocabulary. Hearing my son say “I wish my dad was here” or “ my dad died” is part of our everyday life. 


Jared’s death forced me to create a new normal. Figure out who I am and who I want to be. Be both mom and dad to a grieving child. Be the disciplinarian while still trying to be the fun one. And more often than not, feeling like I was screwing it up.  


One thing I never did, no matter how tough things got, I never gave up. I never quit. Somehow, somewhere, deep in my soul I must have known I was going to be ok. 


I drew strength from my son, my friends, my family, and my faith.  And I survived. I learned to live again. I opened my life to new adventures. My heart to new love.  And my soul has been restored.  


I know Jared would be so proud. Proud that I am living my best life. Proud of the young man Steven has become. Proud of how we are keeping his memory alive.  Proud that I once again laugh, love, and dance in the rain. 


And yet, grief will always be a part of my life.


My heart has a permanent scar. A scar that reminds me of my love story with an amazing man.  A scar that reminds me that love was absolutely worth the pain. A scar that reminds me to live because he can’t. Seven years ago I wanted to die also. Could not imagine life without Jared. Could not understand how the world didn’t stop for my grief. But today, my scars from grief remind me just how far I have come. Remind me that living is a privilege. Remind me that each day I get to experience all this world has to offer. 


Seven years ago I was forever changed.  Jared’s death changed me in ways I can never describe. But it also forced me to grow and adapt. His love gave me the strength to move forward. Moving forward was not easy. It took a lot of hard work with long days and longer nights, but I like the person I am now. As I continue to move forward and build a new life, Jared’s love will always be an inspiration.


Seven years feels like forever and yesterday all at the same time. Not a day goes by that I don’t love and miss Jared. That I don’t wish he was here. That I don’t think of him or speak his name. What I wouldn’t give to have him here by my side. To be here for Steven. And at the same time, our lives are good again.  We are happy. We aren’t just surviving, we are thriving. Because of our grief. 


Seven years.  

Yesterday and forever.


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.