Eight years ago I could never have imagined my life the way it is now. When I married Jared, I knew someday I would bury him. My head knew this. But my heart could never accept it. If my heart had known it, I don’t think I could have functioned. And then the awful day came, when I had to say goodbye. 


My whole world, my whole life changed.  And what a twisty and curvy road my life has been on since then.


The last few years, I have learned some really hard life lessons. I have learned some really difficult truths about myself. And I have learned that above all else I am a survivor.


One of the hard life lessons I’ve learned is that no matter how much you care for someone, or how much you want to love someone, or how much you want to welcome someone into your life, they don’t have to let you. There will always be people who don’t like you simply because you exist. Simply because you came into their world and turned it upside down. Simply because you are not the person they envisioned in their life. And that has been a difficult lesson for me. I’m having to learn to let go of expectations. Learning that I cannot control other people’s reaction, I can only control my own. Learning to love people for who they are not what I expect. And sometimes that means loving them from a distance so their attitude does not negatively impact me. 


I have learned that there will be people who think I share my grief for sympathy. For attention. They will never know that I share my story because another widow shared her’s and it saved my life. And now I hope that maybe, just maybe I can do the same for a new widow.


I have learned that I am brutally honest. Rarely have a filter. Have absolutely no time for bullshit. And that can be hard for people to take. That I can come across as harsh. Aggressive. But what people don’t realize is it’s a means of survival. It has become a coping mechanism. And one that I probably need to work on toning down just a little bit.


I also learned that I can love again. Truly, madly, deeply.  And more importantly, that there was a man out there willing to love me. Willing to do his best to understand my grief. Willing to love me and my dead husband. A man who is not jealous of the man that came before him. A man who never wants my child to forget his dad. A man who will ask what Jared would have thought or wanted. A man who knows there will always be moments, songs, days, that send me down the grief rabbit hole. And he simply tells me to go visit with Jared.  Just to come back to him when I am done. What a special man he is. 


I’ve also had to learn that my truth is mine.  And no one else has to like it.  I hope they accept it or at least respect it but they don’t have to like it.  I like the person I am.  I’ve worked damn hard these last years to become her.  I am a survivor.  I put one foot in front of the other on days I just wanted to quit. I’ve built a pretty amazing life.  And those I let in to share my life are truly wonderful people who build me up. And I am blessed to have them. For those on the outside, on the periphery, I will be here for you but I can’t let you steal my joy.  I have learned it’s ok to set boundaries with those you love.  Necessary in fact. Loss made me strong enough to do that. 


I have learned life rarely goes as planned. I loved my life with Jared. Some of my best days, best moments, best memories are from time spent with him. And as much as I loved my life with Jared, I equally love my life now.  I am blessed to have truly amazing memories of a life well lived with my first love and joyful expectations of a life to come with my new love.  Past, present, future.  My life has been and will continue to be an adventure.  One full of love, life, and laughter.  As hard as it’s been, I wouldn’t trade it.  That twisty, curvy road made me into the strong, independent, fierce, loving, adventurous, outspoken woman I am.


And I am happy just the way I am. 


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.