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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My Blue Crayon

December 5, 2019

My Sweet Will,


My favourite color for as long as I can remember.

The color of your eyes and yes, the color of the sky on a beautiful sun-kissed day.

You are undeniably our little Mr Blue Sky but sometimes blue is used to describe feelings of sadness and these December days are quite blue for me, Willy. It’s not surprising at this time of year to harbour these feelings — we know this well, for every book on grief, every counsellor we spoke to and every parent walking with us on this journey will attest that that is true. Of course, it is. Missing a loved one over the holidays can certainly conjure up a dark blue cloud of sad that can sometimes, for some, make December unbearable.

For me, December feels like a magnifying glass pointed at the empty chair. Your absence is palpable, Will … sometimes it screams at me and try as I do to search for the silver lining sometimes there are days when I just have to succumb to these blue feelings and I retreat to a place within. I go quietly to that sacred place in my heart where the very best memories live, where you live and where I feel closest to you. I pray to God to help me through the darkness and ask him to watch over me as I sit there for a bit. Long enough to get lost in all those perfectly ordinary days that we shared but not too long that I would forget how to pull myself up. You know this place well, Willy… it’s where we learned to dance between what was and what is. My heart reminds me that grief and sadness are the price of love and that I am feeling blue because I love you and I miss you.

Sure, the hustle and bustle of December is here and…

I’ve yet to pull out the Christmas boxes, but I will.

I’ve yet to put up the tree, but I will.

I’ll bake little gingerbread boys, like I always do.

I’ll play Christmas music and sing out loud, like I always do.

I’ve yet to make my shopping list and venture out to the shops, but I will.

I’ll wrap gifts and plan our Christmas dinner, like I always do.

And, all the while I will miss you every second of every minute. Like I always do.

But, for today and maybe even tomorrow I will dance with you and not worry about the list. When it feels right I’ll be ready to return to the hustle and bustle of December feeling recharged and ready to go. You will urge me to go, reminding me that it is what you’d want me to do. With your gentle nudge I will get busy and “bring on” Christmas like we always do. I will trust that everything will get done to the best of my ability and that what will be this December, will be exactly what it should be. I will be present for those that are my world — Dad and Ben and Justin and Amy and Finn — knowing that together is the best place to be and knowing also that you’ll be smack dab in the middle of all of it. My beautiful family and my friends that feel like family will be close in my thoughts and I will let them all know how grateful I am for their love, their continued support and for their friendship. They really are the best gifts.

You are my blue crayon, Will, and I love you more than a blue sky day and a bus full of blue crayons.


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