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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Shhhh…. Will is here. 


Me and my boy at the top of the Timber Chair in Fernie, BC

July 19, 2017

Hey Will,

The long, lazy days of summer are upon us and I enjoy the simplicity of these days so very much. Waking up when it feels right is a gift. My morning begins with a big cuppa joe as I contemplate the makings of my day and sometimes another cup to kickstart those contemplations into action. Occasionally, even with good intentions nothing gets crossed off the list and that, perhaps, might just be the very thing that I love the most. Why? Because it’s ok. Because there’s always tomorrow or the next day or the next. I haven’t always felt comfortable with this relaxed way of looking at things…. I guess I’ve mellowed over the years. And, well that’s a good thing.  

One of the difficult things that comes with this slower, almost lackadaisical pace, has been slowing down my mind; finding comfort in that space that, since your accident, held so much fear for me. My busy mind kept the very intense, painful feelings of losing you to a constant simmer instead of the gut wrenching pain that would creep into my thoughts whenever my mind was quiet. The “chatter” so to speak became a way for me to cope without you in the physical world; it became quite literally a way to survive. Allowing my busy mind to be quiet has been one of my biggest challenges and it is why I found the practice of yoga so difficult. A sobbing mom was hardly relaxing for anyone. 

These days quieting my mind and allowing thoughts of you to reside there have become a beautiful thing. Its taken a long time to get here and as I look back time was indeed my friend. There were days early on when it was just too painful to let my mind wander, too many times where if I allowed myself to do so my tears would takeover. Too many days where once the flood gates opened I could not stop the painful feelings and the scary, guttural cries of a mom in mourning. The fear that I would never be able to make them go away was very real. It’s been a long process, an evolution really, where time became the conduit to what I can now call a beautiful place. I’ve come to realize that you are my breath, my being, my reason to carry on and that my life story is you. I AM a mom who has lost a child and all the pain that comes with that incredibly painful loss has made me who I am now.

For a long time I looked for you, Will. Everywhere I went I looked for signs. I uncovered rocks and searched for butterflies and rainbows and snowflakes that sparkle in a certain way. The beautiful thing is that I’ve come to trust that I needn’t look for you because you are here all the time. All the things that are you find their way to me seemingly without effort — heart-shaped rocks at my feet, little blue butterflies on my path, the chirpiest bird outside my window, the chipmunk that just won’t stop nattering, dew drops on the grass that seem to wink at me in the morning sunlight, the twinkle of a faraway star and in the winter, those Willy white perfect snowfalls. You are everywhere. All the time. 

I wake with thoughts of you and close my eyes at the end of each day knowing that you are near. The spirit world has become one where I live more often than not… and I like it there. It is in this realm that I see you, hear you and feel your presence. I have come to trust that the spirit world lives in my mind and when I’m quiet you are all abuzz. Your love, your giggle, your warmth, your silliness, your sensitivity, your crazy boyishness; all that I miss so very much is all there. Of course, there are times when I have to make myself busy, kickstart my mind, get my list-making brain chugging along because if I didn’t, Will, nothing would ever get finished. Or started for that matter.

But here’s the other cool thing. When I’m chugging along you’re there chuggin’ along right beside me. You are my little messenger, the one who guides me and who makes me live in the moment. You have taught me to open my eyes and to believe. You have shown me just how important it is to make memories and to cherish those that mean everything to me. You have taught me to give life the gusto it sometimes requires and to also just stop and let things be.

I miss you here more than anything and I’d be lying if I told you I don’t cry. There are still lots and lots of tears but that’s ok, too. Tears are a part of loss and with deep love there is deep loss and lots and lots of tears. There really are no words for what losing a child feels like here on earth. Only when I quiet my mind can my heart really feel the kind of love that lifts me up. It’s a “Willy kind of love”. A big love where you and I measure big love with big busses. 

These long, lazy days of summer are full of you and in the quiet of this morning and in my mind at this moment there is abundant beauty. It will be a good day, Will, because I’m spending it with a million thoughts of you. 

Love you like a bus, sweet boy.  


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