Returning to School as a Starfish

Jordan, Sam, and Will

Waiting their turn to play volleyball… Jordan, Sam, and Will

Thursday, August 18, 2011 (89 days)

Dear Willy,

Today I met with Mrs. McLaren at your school and mine, too.  She kindly bought me a latte and we shared a piece of banana bread while we talked about you and all the things that made you so special to Banded Peak.  I have decided that I’d like to return to the school for a couple of days a week and so we talked about that too.  To be there everyday would be just too difficult and as I explained to Mrs. McLaren I have some work to do on me.  I have to grow that new appendage… remember the starfish story?  When a starfish loses one of it’s “arms” it grows a new one and I was telling her that when I lost you, I lost one of my “arms” and that arm will always be with you… you, being only twelve, still needed your mom and, gosh, as your mom I still needed you too.  I don’t know what my new appendage will look like but I am on a mission to grow a fabulous one because it will be for you.  One could also call it finding my new purpose here on earth; finding a reason to live out my days until I am reunited with you.   I think she understood what I was trying to say.  We discussed that I will not work in your grade grouping as that would be torturous really.  But I think being at the school in a lower grade might be good for me.  Another bittersweet, Will… and boy oh boy, my world is filled with those.

I explained to Mrs. McLaren that sometimes my eyes will well up with tears while at work but that maybe my tears didn’t have to be a negative; that maybe the kids would see that being sad is part of being human — that even adults have tears sometimes and that it is ok.  Maybe my emotions would bring out their emotions and maybe, just maybe, bring down their “walls”; especially the kids that come to school and hide amongst the turmoil of anxiety, the ones that have tummy aches and tears and sadness and behavior issues, etc.  I told her how great it might be for them to see that they are helping me too and that it wouldn’t be just me helping them.  Life is a two way street and working together could help them and me all at the same time.  I know that there will be times when   it will be overwhelmingly sad and I will have to excuse myself and maybe leave for a few minutes, but she told me that would be ok and completely understandable.  I am so grateful for the school and the support I have there.

You have impacted so many, Will, and I will need you to help me through this.  Help me understand that it is right and good for me to go back.  Give me the strength I will need daily and the courage to show that being human has all kinds of faces; some happy and some really sad.  Sit proudly on my left shoulder where the boy angels sit everyday I am there.  I will need you there WITH me…. because that is where you should be.  And, by the way, Willy, when I grow my new “arm”, this starfish Mom of yours will still always need you.

Love you more than five arms,



8 thoughts on “Returning to School as a Starfish

  1. You amaze me Miss Joni, I am so very proud of you good luck with school the children are so very lucky to have you in there lives. Love Lyn. XX.


    • Thanks Lyn. This is actually a letter that I wrote just months after Will’s accident. It turned out to be too early for mr to return as it was just too difficult to be in the school then. I did, however, return last september for the year and loved it! It was like medicine. I always appreciate your comments and love that you keep visiting my site. Thanks. Xo


    • Thank you, Lori. So nice to hear from you and comforting to know that you think of me. It is painful to live without Will and I try hard to find the silver lining in all things. Not sure there is a silver lining in losing a child, but there are certainly ways to channel the sadness into positive things like helping other parents who are living the unimaginable. I think of you too and hope life is treating you well. Thanks for you note. It means so much. xo


  2. love it Joni…your stories make me cry and every time I do I feel a little pain leaving my body. i don’t expect the pain will ever go away and maybe it is never supposed to- but you put words to the voice I have lost…God Bless, love you Kristin


    • Oh Kristin. Your comments are always so heartfelt. Because you know what this journey feels like, you would probably agree that crying is not optional when you lose a child. Tears become part of who we are. I remember Bob saying that it is important that you let the pain leave your body and that keeping it inside makes it worse. Do you remember him saying that? I also remember him saying that the deeper you love someone the more it hurts. Boy, if that doesn’t explain why it hurts so much I don’t know what would. I am so glad to have met you, K. I wish we didn’t have to live this nightmare… but I find it helps to just be around you. Love you back and upside down. xo


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