Sometimes one person can be missing and the whole world feels empty

~ anonymous ~

JoniBouchard.jpgWelcome to my Love Letters to Will. I am the mother of three boys; two who run and one who soars. Tragically, on the long weekend in May 2011, I lost my youngest son, Will, at the age of 12 1/2. Losing Will has changed me and life as I knew it forever. To imagine is one thing, but to have to live it is another.

In the first year, I wrote Will a daily love letter. I talked to him everyday for 12½ years and I wasn’t about to stop. I couldn’t stop. This daily ritual helped me to, quite literally, survive. I looked forward to some time each day to be with him, to talk to him, to write to him, to imagine that he was sitting with me talking like we used to.

I still write to Will, though not every day. Sometimes I sit in my comfy chair, sometimes I lay in his bed propped up against his pillows like when we used to read together before his bedtime. I’ve taken my laptop down to the river and sat on the banks, written to him while I waited in a waiting room or an office; I’ve written to him as I sat in the passenger seat on our way to Fernie, woken in the early morning before the busyness of the day to write to him, and sometimes made it the last thing I did before I climbed into my own bed. It doesn’t matter where I am or what time it is… I look forward to my quiet time with Will and to writing him a letter.

I’ll need to explain a couple of things that won’t make any sense if you have no background of my relationship with Will. First, Will had many nicknames and I often refer to him in my letters as Willy (obvious), and the WillBilly (I’m not even sure how and when that started, but we called him that often), and “Little Mr. Blue Sky” (after his favourite song, Mr. Blue Sky by ELO). Secondly, for as long as I can remember, Will and I ended each day with a tuck in and the words “love you like a bus”. I know it doesn’t make sense, but when he was little, buses were huge in his world and he believed that you could never love anyone or anything bigger than a bus. And so, this phrase evolved and we used it always. So when I end a letter with that phrase which Will and I sometimes shortened to “lulab” (love u like a bus) you’ll get what I mean.

If you, too,  are a mom who is living the unimaginable loss of a child I hope that through sharing my Love Letters to Will you will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone.  You  might find parallels in your own journey and are looking for a way to continue a relationship with your child, even though it is not the physical one that we on earth only know.  Thank you for allowing me to share my Will with you in this way.

To those of you who have your children I hope that my Love Letters to Will will remind you that Motherhood is a labour of love and that your children are gifts.  There are days when mothering is difficult, when we sometimes wish away the hard parts, but here is what I know for sure. Nothing will ever be as difficult as losing them.

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May. Another Circle Around The Sun Begins.

May 13, 2018

Here we go again. The hardest month of the year is upon us and as your angel date approaches it is this month that is the biggest reminder of the passage of time. The 22nd day of May will mark seven years since our worst day ever and it still feels like yesterday and forever. How can time dance between these two extremes?

May brings with it a flood of memories; an abundant and beautiful playlist of memories that no one can ever take from me. The onset of May meant soccer at the park, riding your bike and wearing shorts again. After a long winter it was the month where we’d have to shop for new shorts and t-shirts and pull out Ben’s hand-me-downs because of how much you grew since we switched them out for warmer clothes and snow pants. With May also comes Mother’s Day and what used to be one of my favourite days of the year. Now, not so much. There is an emptiness that nothing can fill and the empty chair at the table is so blatantly noticeable on this day. I will always treasure the gifts you and your brothers made at school when you were all small. I have kept them all, along with every handmade card.

I will play all of my moments with you over and over and over a million times throughout my lifetime, Will. There is solace in recalling the many happy moments but on the other side of all that “happy” is the pining and longing I have for all that was lost and all that could have been and will never be… watching you navigate through your teen years (whilst pulling my hair out on occasion, I’m sure) and then transitioning from man cub to man. Missing out on celebrating the milestones you’d have enjoyed along the way and all the beautiful, ordinary moments and days in between is something that will haunt me for all my days. There is an aching sadness in thinking about that. A month that used to hold such promise and a change of seasons now feels so different. My patience is thinner, my heart is heavier and the onset of tears sits so close to the surface of my being that I can feel their sting.

And yet, I try. I try to be positive, to be hopeful and to be grateful for the little blessings that present themselves each day because I know, Will, that this is what you want for me. I spend more time these days practicing self care and wake each day with the intent to be kinder to myself… because I need to. Walking our chocolate lab down by the river is the best medicine on these May days. I try to be in less of a hurry and to be patient while Finn sniffs everything in sight. It’s quite a ritual he practices and with every sniff of every tree or rock or patch of grass, dog experts say that he can recall which one of his furry friends pee’d there and when. It’s crazy to think about, really, but for whatever reason he must just need to know this stuff. Silly dogs.

Today, I noticed many fat robins strutting around the ground with their proud, red breasts looking for bits and pieces to finish building their nests so they can lay their eggs soon. Last week I picked some pussy willows and put them in a little jar beside my kitchen sink. Such happy little fur balls and I thought to myself that if I was a plant I’d surely love a little fur coat to keep me warm on the not so sunny spring days. While I walked I noticed all the signs of renewal that Mother Nature so intentionally orchestrates. I thought about how hardy the trees and bushes are when after a long winter they spread their branches up to the sky in an effort to begin their growing cycle again. I love how after a few warm days buds appear and how soon after that those buds uncurl into new, tiny, green leaves. I don’t know where else you can even replicate that color of green. It really is quite beautiful.

The forest floor is still covered with a blanket of dead leaves from the fall but here and there there are tufts of new green grass trying to poke through. Though I’ve not yet seen any wildflowers I know they’ll be here soon. This cycle of renewal that is spring is a reminder to me that I can find beauty in little things and that if I set out with the intention to find it I can and will. Even when the sting of tears is so close and my heart aches I can find you, Will. You are every tiny miracle I see on my daily walk and as we circle the sun again I know I can count on you to lead the way. I feel your hand in mine and that helps.

I love you, sweet boy. More than a bus full of spring miracles and the color of brand new leaves. More than pussy willows and and a chocolate lab named Finn.


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