A Room With a View


The view of Polar Peak from your Memorial Rock

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dear Sweet Will,

I am writing you this letter today from a very special place. I am sitting on the concrete skirting that surrounds your memorial rock in a natural alcove that Mother Nature carved out in the forest, a short walk from the top of the Elk Chair on the mountain that you so lovingly referred to as your ski home. It is incredibly lush here; so beautiful, peaceful, and quiet. At this moment the only sound would be me crying. I am here by myself for a bit and I couldn’t contain my silent tears so the mountain you loved is hearing me cry out loud. The pain of missing you so terribly sometimes comes out this way, Will. My tears started when I woke this morning. My head was still on the pillow as I reached over to the bedside table for my Will heart necklace. I held it in my hands for a few moments staring at it as if I was looking into your blue eyes. Your ashes sealed inside the silver heart pendant that I cupped in my hands before I secured the necklace around my neck is the most treasured piece of jewelry I own. It is the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I take off before I crawl into bed. I have cleaned and shined it with my tears on many occasions and this morning was no different.

Elsy, Kathleen, Sarah, and Tess at your Memorial Rock

Elsy, Kathleen, Sarah, and Tess at your Memorial Rock

I am in Fernie this weekend for our second annual moms, daughters, and dogs hike to your rock. Claire, Sue, and Lisa and their “oh so pretty” daughters who I know you remember (Elsy, Sarah, and Tess) and, of course, the dogs (Sophie, Oakley, Bella, and our Finn) are sharing this special weekend with me. This year, however, your most special friend, Kathleen, and the closest girl I have to a daughter, is also here. I asked her if she’d come along as my “guest daughter” and in a while they will join me here to honour and remember you. But right now is my time with just you and as I sit here with my iPad ready to begin my letter to you I can’t help but notice the beauty that surrounds your memorial rock.

Your rock in itself is incredible but where it rests is a little piece of heaven on earth. The ground is dark brown, rich and fertile, and still moist from the morning dew. The foliage and trees in all shapes and sizes and textures form a canopy protecting your rock somewhat from the elements that are part of a mountain climate. Some of the branches are tinged with yellow now as Mother Nature begins her transition from summer to fall. The ones directly overhead remind me of eyelashes as they flutter to and fro in the sunlight keeping me cool in the shade that they provide. There are still some glittery snowflake decorations hanging in the trees; remnants of the winter day the week before Christmas when Dad and I came here to specifically hang them. As I look down at my feet I notice bits of silver glitter that has mixed with the soil around your rock and my heart, even though my tears, somehow finds a reason to smile. I smile because I remember so clearly each day I visited your rock during this past winter while skiing. Inside my ski jacket pocket was a container that I filled with glitter and sparkles and each time I visited I would sprinkle them around your rock and the snow around it. Angel dust is what I called it. But what I notice most, Will, is the breathtaking view. This room with a view, your room here, is majestic and beautiful and a reminder that we are all so small amongst these huge mountains. However, your spirit and your presence here is much larger than all of us combined. I feel the warmth of your smile and I can hear your giggle (a giggle like no other and one of my favourite sounds ever), but what I long for more than anything else is to have you standing here with me, holding my hand. If only that was possible.

What I will take with me down the mountain today are the countless memories of you at this place you loved and this view from your rock. Mother Nature was kind to bestow upon us this breathtaking view of Polar Peak. Your room with a view is beautiful, peaceful, and tranquil…. just like you.

I love you little Blue. Like a bus. And I miss you bigger than the blue sky above your favourite mountain today. Know that the words we had engraved on the back side of your rock will be there for all time and will always ring true…

You are forever a part
of us and never alone.
We love you, Will,
and we miss you.

Love Mom Dad Justin Ben XO


Our Empty Nest


September 2, 2013 (836 days)

Dear Will,

Today is another first day of school. Your first day in what would have been your grade 10 year of high school. All around me are moms who are saying the same words, “where has the time gone?” Though for me, it is different. I miss you more and more every day and in my world it never feels like time flies. It is a repeat of another day without you. Like last year at this time I have purposely stayed away from the stores; watching moms shopping with their kids for back to school is still too painful. Oh, what I’d give to be complaining and negotiating and frustrated with the whole list… Trying to talk you out of your perceived need for another backpack when the one you have is perfectly fine, trying to convince you that while the new shoes you want so badly are terribly over-priced (because of where they rank on the “cool factor scale”) I agree to meet you in the middle by paying for half of them….all the while feeling that maybe I was too hard on you because I do understand how important it is to want and need to fit in and that I remember as a school aged girl the excitement over a new pair of shoes at the beginning of each school year. New t-shirts and a couple of pairs of jeans, brand new whiter-than-white socks, the necessary new hoodie and last on the list, of course, the binders and notebooks that were a back to school requirement but not near as much fun to shop for as the other stuff. And then the haircut negotiations would begin… You wanting to keep it long while I was on the other end of the spectrum wishing I could talk you into a shorter style… In the end, you’d have won that battle because I did learn (finally) by having gone through it year after year with your older brothers that really, it’s only hair and not worth a battle. Once home you’d empty the bags onto your bed and want to wear it all right now — not wanting to wait until school started…and yet another round of negotiations would begin. Oh, how I miss all of it. Instead, I stay away knowing that hearing the banter and negotiating between moms and their kids would send me into another tailspin of tears.

I wonder a lot these past few days what you’d look like now; how handsome you’d be? Its not a surprise that part of what I miss most is the physicality of you. I miss seeing you, I miss your smell, your voice, your laugh. I miss being able to hug you and to touch you. I miss what it feels like to hold your hand, to pat you on the back. Gosh, Will, I even miss making your school lunches and arguing with you. What I imagine to be true is that you’d have been a stunningly handsome, almost 15 year old boy, with the most beautiful blue eyes and that because of that you’d have been a distraction amongst the girls! Then here we’d go again with another round of negotiations about the importance of your school work with less attention on the girls… Oh boy, Will, I know there’d have been some trying times between us at this stage but they’d never be as hard as not having them at all.

I am writing you this letter in the wee hours of the morning. It is still dark outside and the only sound I hear is the steady, rhythmic shrill of crickets outside the open window. Dad and I are leaving for home mid morning, having spent the long weekend here in Kelowna helping Ben move into residence and his first year of university. I am grateful that he has chosen to go to university here, close to Uncle Jim. Kelowna is a beautiful place as you know. Spending some of our time in past summers at Uncle Jim’s was full of fun times and for that reason there are good memories here for sure.

The difficult part of today will be our arrival back home and the bittersweet of walking into “clean and quiet”. Our nest is empty now and that makes me sad. These next few years were supposed to be ours with just you at home. No sharing you with your brothers. While Justin begins his last year at U of C and Ben is just beginning his university life here, Dad and I feel like we’ve been robbed of this special time with you. All of us have reached another milestone in our lives… Only dad and I aren’t ready. It’s not supposed to be our empty nest time but sadly we weren’t part of that decision. Having Finn, our big, brown dog, will help and I am grateful that we have him as he helps fill up the house a little, but, oh what I’d give to have you at home. The nest would be perfect then.

Though I believe in my heart that you are near me, I continue to search for signs of you daily. That’s what makes me smile these days. Stay close to the nest, little blue. We need you there.

Love you like a bus… parked in the nest.