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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For You. And For Dad.

Murray and Will

Will and Murray

June 17, 2017

Dear Will,

Today I write to you with beautiful memories of you and Dad. Tomorrow is Father’s Day and I am remembering all of the Dad’s Days that you celebrated with us down here. I also write to you in honour of Dad as tomorrow is one of those extra difficult days. Dad hurts; his heart still so broken and in every breath he will feel you and be thinking about you. As tomorrow dawns he will miss you more than usual — if that’s even possible.

All the precious, handmade cards and gifts you made with your hands and your heart are in the memory boxes that are bursting with treasures of you and your brothers. When we bring those boxes out and go through all the cards from happy days past we are brought to tears and smiles. The sad tears are mixed with gratitude as we often pause and comment on the magnitude of the gifts these boxes behold. Every piece of paper, every printed letter and written word, every stick man and simple illustration and every “I love you” are priceless gifts from you and your brothers. If there’s one thing I know for certain in this world it is that those bittersweet memory boxes are ones Dad and I will hold onto until the end of our days. Wherever we call home they will be with us… reminders of the most cherished parts of us. I still save every handmade card that we make for each other and wish more than anything that there were more from you. The “if onlys” that echo when we lift the lids of those boxes make us painfully aware of what could have been and what should have been. Sigh… if only…

This Father’s Day we will also be missing Ben as he is up north in a remote area of the Yukon at a summer job he has taken in his field of study. Watching and sharing in his graduation from UBC Okanagan last week brought Dad and I much joy and as we celebrated Ben’s convocation on the campus we talked about you constantly. We knew you were there too (you’d have not missed this!) and we were convinced that had we not lost you you’d be at that same university. We imagined you’d have finished your first year there as Ben finished his final year and we laughed thinking about the times you’d have been a thorn in his side wanting so much to be a part of his world there. Your Willy shenanigans aside, we know that if things were different, as your big brother, he’d have looked out for you there. Again… if only.

I am thankful Justin and Amy are here to join us for dinner tomorrow as we celebrate Dad. In a week from now Justin and Amy will take possession of and move into their first home. There is much excitement around this milestone as Dad and I remember our first home and sharing in their excitement will help make the day brighter for us. Even though there will be less chairs around the dinner table and through the underlying devastating sadness of losing you that is always present I know that Dad will enjoy our handmade cards and dinner in his honour. As we always do, we will reminisce and remember the happiest of all the very best Father’s Days when you were with us. When our world was perfect.

Please shine your little light especially on Dad tomorrow and on our Amy, too, as she endures her first Father’s Day without her wonderful Dad. Find her dad up there amongst the clouds, Will, and let him know that she’ll always have us to comfort her and carry her in her loss.

I know the day will be full of little blue butterflies and that in the silent parts of the day we’ll hear your giggle and your words, “Hey, Dad, watch this!” Of course, there will be tears because we miss you so very much but we also know that our hearts will be full of you — Bursting like all those precious memory boxes.

Love you, Little Blue. More than words and more than anything. Like a bus in a “bigger than the world” box of cherished memories and handmade cards.

Momxo

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