The Gift of a Photo

Friends Forever:  Calvin and Will at age 5

Friends Forever: Calvin and Will at age 5

October 27, 2013



Dear Will,


Last night Dad and I went to the Lovenuik’s for dinner.   Your winter ski bud and summer beach bud, Calvin, was there too, choosing a night at home instead of a night out with his friends.  It was really great to see him, Will… though I wished more than anything that you were with us and that you and Calvin could have been hanging out together like it just should be.  I remembered when the two of you first met – at the daycare at the base of the ski hill in Fernie — ski buddies before you even knew how to walk.  The two of you, only 3 weeks apart in age, became great friends seeing each other every weekend during the winter months in Fernie for almost all of your “much too short” life.   Winters full of dinners and play dates, swimming at the aquatic centre and building snow forts on the Lovenuik’s front lawn until you boys were frozen or wet or it was time to go home to bed.  On many of those weekends, you and Calvin would go from building a snow fort outside to building a nest in the linen closet inside where the two of you would sleep.  I find myself both smiling and shaking my head as I write this, wondering how the heck that could have been comfortable.  Then, in the same breath, I remember that for boys, “fun” seems to always trump “comfortable”.


As the two of you grew not much changed.  Sure, your little one piece ski suits became trendy ski jackets and cool pants, your skis got longer, your feet grew bigger, and building snow forts turned into building ski jumps.  You no longer needed your dads to take you swimming for you were old enough to go on your own, the Disney DVDs disappeared replaced by endless hours of watching ski movies over and over and over.  Your friendship circle grew too, encompassing more boys your age, all of them members of the Fernie Freestyle Ski Team; boys that became part of a world that you loved so much.  Ski movies, stickers, ski mags, toques, posters, park passes and helmet cams became the norm.  What never changed though and what I believe would still be true was how much the two of you enjoyed each other’s company and how much your friendship meant to one another.


Seeing Calvin last night and how much he has grown is another bittersweet for me.  (You’d love his hair, Will!)  But, what I will never forget is what he gave to Dad and I after dinner.  He’d come from his bedroom with a photograph (the one above); a photo of the two of you when you guys were about 5.   Two little boys, hamming it up for the camera and as I looked at it my heart went back to that time and to that happy place.  This photo is a treasure; a gift so precious; a gift that’s worth can only truly be understood by a parent who has lost a child.  Sadly, there are no recent photos of you, the last one taken the day before the accident.  Photos of your 12½ years, though they will never be enough, are all we have now and each time I see one that I haven’t seen before my heart wants to take a picture of it so it will always be there.  I will always appreciate another photo, another story, another remembrance of you.  More memories for the memory box that will never be full enough.  Which makes me think… maybe I should put it out there to all who knew you to please share any photos of you that they may have.  All of them are treasures and memories that would mean the world to us.


It was nice to spend an evening with good friends and to see your friend, Calvin, too. I am ever grateful for the “gift of you” that he sent us home with.


Love you little blue.  Like a bus.






Fifteen Candles and Four Balloons

Will's 12th Birthday

Will’s 12th Birthday

October 14, 2013

Dear Will,

Today is your birthday and another one we will celebrate without you.  You’d be 15 years old today and I can’t help but wonder what you would look like?  Handsome as ever I already know, but it’s not enough.  Yup, your eyes would still be blue as ever, but would your hair be short or long?  Long, I am guessing, like your brothers and whatever Ben had you’d want to have too.  How tall would you be?  Well, taller than me for sure for you were almost as tall as me 2 ½ years ago.  You were on your way to being tall like Justin.  Loud and proud?  Oh yeah.  Would you still be super athletic and active?  I think so.  Big feet?  Oh yes. Your feet were already big.  I wonder what your voice would sound like now?  I still remember clearly what it sounded like at 12 ½ but you missed the phase of squeaks and intermittent highs and lows that come with being a teenage boy and a man cub.  There are many things I don’t know now; things I can only imagine to be true about you.  I imagine that you’d still love bacon, and ribs, and candy.  But, would Skittles still be your favourite?  I’m not sure, but I doubt very much that you would ever say no to a handful of candy in any form!  I imagine winter would still be your favourite season and snow still your favourite “toy” because freestyle skiing was so much a part of you.

Will's 6th Birthday. With his big brothers, Justin and Ben

Will’s 6th Birthday.
With his big brothers, Justin and Ben

Today I will set the table and tie four helium balloons to your chair — two green (your favourite color) and two blue (the color of your eyes).  We will light a white candle and place it in the middle of the table and we will honor you with what we imagine you would still love.  As we have done and will continue to do for everyone in our family on their birthday, we will have your favourite meal.  I will make ribs and remember how I’d have to remind you that dinner was more than just a plate FULL of ribs.  I’ll smile remembering how you’d negotiate taking the smallest amount of vegetables and rice or potato to keep me quiet.  We will have an angel food cake with whipped topping and strawberries and remember and laugh at how you’d only want the cake part, no topping, and perhaps maybe a few strawberries.  I shake my head and smile now remembering how, away from the dinner table, you’d flatten and squish a piece of that cake into a bite-sized morsel and how you’d say you just loved it that way.  How coincidental it seems now that your favourite cake was angel food?  Hmmm.  We will light fifteen candles and blow them out making our own wish — our wish that you were here so that we could sing happy birthday to you and wish you many more.  All the stuff that we took for granted back then and no longer do.  We’d shower you with gifts and handmade cards and watch you open the others from your grandparents and extended family.  Now there are no gifts and cards. Instead, Dad and I and Ben and Justin will write you a personal message and each of us will tie it to one of the helium balloons on your chair. After your cake we will go outside and on our own time and in our own little space in the backyard we’ll let them go, sending our love and our wishes up to you. Watch for them Will and please make the stars appear a little brighter and give them a special sparkle tonight so we know that you got them.

Miss you little blue.  My heart aches more than usual today…if that is even possible.


October Days and Little Boy Arms

Little Boy Arms

Little Boy Arms

October 6, 2013

Dear Willy,

Well, here it is again.  October; your birth month and one of the most difficult for me. No month is easy by any means, but October conjures up so many memories of you.  For most of your much-too-short life as soon as I turned the calendar to October the conversations would begin… “Mom, my birthday is in 14 days!”  And in the next breath, “can we plan my birthday party?  How many friends can I invite?  Can they all sleepover?  Ok. Well, can some sleepover?”  Today, remembering these conversations that would begin at the beginning of October every year now make me cry.

I think back to that very special day in October 1998; to the 14th day of the month when you made your debut into this world.  You, my youngest son, were pure joy from the moment Dad and I found out that we were blessed with another son.  An easy pregnancy, an easy delivery (easy to say now!?), and such a happy and beautiful baby boy with your blonde curly hair and blue eyes. It was one of the happiest days in my life, for sure.  Having you felt like everyone in my world was now here and that my kitchen table was supposed to have five people occupy the chairs that were tucked in around it.  For the first time, I could honestly say that it felt like my family was complete. I took much pride, and still do, in being a mother to three boys. Little Nan, (papa’s mom and my grandmother) was also a mother of three boys and I always thought it was so special.  And now I, too, was a proud mama bear to three cubs.  One of the things I loved the most about all three of you, was the feel of your little boy arms around my neck and even at 12 ½ your arms, the smallest of the three of you, gave me such comfort. Right up until your angel date, I loved the tuck-me-in goodnight hugs we still shared regularly.  I don’t ever want to forget those hugs, Will, for there is just nothing quite like them.

Remembering the joy you brought to all of us on the day you were born and the happiness that you brought to our lives as you grew now feels so empty and when October comes around it is especially heartbreaking. It is like you were stolen from me and I am left now with only memories of you as a boy on the cusp of becoming a teenager and a time you were looking forward to so very much.  Watching your two older brothers navigate through the teenage years gave you insight into the freedoms and privileges that were coming your way; learning to drive, girls, girls, girls, summer jobs and spending money of your own, later curfews and later bedtimes.  You certainly didn’t choose to see the “not so fun” parts like more homework, negotiations with Dad and I that wouldn’t always go as you’d hoped, losing privileges, being grounded, etc.  It was just like you to find the fun parts wherever you were.

So, as I watch each of these October days come and go and as your birthday approaches I must continue to find the strength to carry on somehow. I know there will be days when grace will be lost; days where it will take all I have to just get out of bed. And then to my amazement there will be days, too, that I will somehow find a smile, feel you with me, and that I will celebrate having had you for as long as I did, even though it was much, much too short. There is not a day, Will, that I wish the outcome would have been different and that you were here with us saying, “Mom, my birthday is in 14 days!  Can we plan…”

I believe it is you giving us these warm and sunny fall days and I am grateful.  I imagine it is your way of giving me those little boy hugs I miss so very much.  Beautiful October days… and little boy arms.  Thank you, Will.

I miss you to the moon and love you like a bus.