Surviving after the loss of my precious son

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

Welcome 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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12 Years x a Million

May 18, 2023

My dearest, sweet Will,

It is May again and your Angel date is approaching. I need not look at a calendar to know that it is soon because I can feel it. The days feel different; off kilter, off axis. My sleep is disturbed, my mind is pre-occupied, my focus distant. I’m somewhere else. I am with you x a million.

Quite simply, I miss you, Willy. There are no words on earth that can quantify just how much I do. You will always be the brightest star in the nighttime sky and my biggest reason to find my way in this world. You are love and hope x a million and on days like this I close my eyes and allow my tears to fall. Only then can I go to that place in my heart where your little light cannot be extinguished. It is in that place that love turns sadness into smiles and hope into strength. It is here where I find gratitude in every single ordinary day that we shared and where I am reminded that grief and sadness are really just the price of love… x a million.

I’ll be looking for you this weekend, Will. I’ll find you in all sorts of places; I always do. I will look at your bright little star in the nighttime sky and I’ll stare long enough to see you twinkle right back at me. 

I miss you and I love you, sweet boy. More than a bus and 12 years x a million.


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