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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A Four Humped Camel Called October 

                      Will’s Happy Heavenly Birthday Balloons (October 14, 2017)

October 17, 2017

Dear Willy,

October.  Sigh.

Though fall is my favourite time of the year, this year the month of October is like a camel with too many humps — four to be exact. First was our bike ride into Bragg Creek for icecream (our little Ride For Will), then came Thanksgiving, followed by your birthday, and in a couple of weeks, Halloween.

The two biggest humps were the ones in the middle – Thanksgiving weekend and then your birthday. These two always feel a bit like climbing a mountain (clarification… what I think it would feel like). There is a looming feeling in the days leading up to them and I feel a little more anxious as each of them draws closer. The most difficult part of those days is getting out of bed. I lay still and remember what it was like when you were here and wish with all of my being that you still were. I think about all the things we’ve missed out on, the stuff we didn’t get to do. I wonder what you’d look like and what your voice would sound like. I sit with these thoughts for a while and inevitably succumb to my tears whilst giving myself permission to feel sad and then with my head down and a tear-stained face I get up and I get going. It’s not always pretty and its not easy but I forge on finding ways to honour you throughout these days . Then, at the end of each of these difficult days, I sigh, still surprised that I make it through year after year after year. Somehow I do. And somehow in these days I find a smile, I find joy and I find gratitude. On October 14th, 1998 (this year your nineteenth journey around the sun) we were blessed to bring you into this world and call you our son. This day will forever be one of my life’s best and though now one of the saddest it will always be a bittersweet celebration. .

The next hump is Halloween and for me I am happy to report that this hump is growing smaller. Oh boy, I think back to how much you loved Halloween (aka “I love candy” day) and how much you disliked visiting the dentist. You never really understood how bad those tootsie rolls were on your teeth… or maybe you did and they were just too good to give up? I have to come clean, Willy, I still love them, too. (Insert a wink).

                           Enjoying icecream after our little  Ride For Will (Oct 8/17)

For a long time I didn’t think I’d ever smile again; hearing myself laugh or feel joy seemed an impossibility. In the months after losing you, I couldn’t find the strength to leave our home. And now, here I am. I can do this. What got me here? Why can I do it now? Well, I do know the answer now. There are two actually. One is time. And the other is you. With time comes clarity and reflection and with clarity and reflection comes the question I ask more than any other, “What would Will want me to do?” Not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself that very question at least once. You, sweet one, are my reason and my strength for everything. Oh, and there’s these two other boys, too… the other two that call me Mom. And Dad. And our big, brown dog. I am surrounded with boy love! And I am grateful for all of you.

The boy love in my world is big, Will. And I love you more than all the boy love put together on a four humped camel with a big bus full of tootsie rolls on the side. You see, it’s not even possible to love someone more than that. But I do…. times a million.

Miss you, Little Blue.


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