January 11, 2014
This is my first letter to you in 2014, and though you may be wondering why it took eleven days to finally put my words here… well, Willy, it was just really hard for me. I know what you’re thinking. “Geez, Mom. You were never at a loss for words. Gosh, there were days when I wished it were so, but c’mon, Mom, this never happens to you!” Truth is, I have thought about you every minute of every day; I have talked to you out loud, whispered your name, looked for you in the sky, in the snow, and in every nook and cranny of life. Most times, Will, thankfully I found you staring right back at me. I have taken you with me to Fernie and Montana and back, tucked you safely in my heart where you occupy an indelible space; a space every mother creates for her children when they go to heaven without their moms, no matter how old they are. These past 11 days and the days over Christmas have been especially difficult. I woke each day wondering if this might be the day that I could find the strength to put some happy words here… but day after day (even though I tried and tried) it just never worked. As soon as I would open my laptop and type your name, my tears would fall and I would find myself paralyzed, staring at an empty screen.
This holiday season was our third without you and though I know that grief never follows a straight line from unbearably sad to sad, to a little bit sad, to a little less sad… I somehow wanted to believe, to hope, that maybe this year it would be a little easier. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. For me, Christmas without you was again unbearably sad. Was it because I expected/hoped it would be a bit easier? Maybe. But then, how could it be? I know in my heart of hearts that it will never be easier, never be less painful, or less empty. What we’ve been told is that it will always be sad, but that we will get better at learning to live with the pain, the loss, the emptiness of not having you here. Oh, like that makes it better? Of course it doesn’t.
What I will focus on and remember is the wonderful things that we do in honor of you around the holidays. How our tree is adorned with memories of you and of us spending our winters skiing in Fernie. How your Christmas stocking, instead of being filled with gifts and goodies, sits underneath the most beautiful spray that is the centre of our Christmas dinner table. The florist at the Farmers Market incorporated some of the blue and silver balls from the last two Christmas centrepieces into some cedar and evergreen boughs that hugged the same frosted hurricane vase with the white candle that is your light in the middle of all of us at Christmas. Will, it was really beautiful. (Thank you, Sandy). How under the tree is a gift for each of us from you, our Santa now. And how the last gift we open is a special family gift from you — always a jigsaw puzzle for us to work on together. I’ve yet to open the box, but think I might just do that today. Somehow seeing 1000 puzzle pieces spread out all over the dining room table and knowing that it’ll take us a month or two to complete finds me smiling.
There were some extra-special gifts under our tree this year and all were in honor of you, Will. I’d chosen two of your t-shirts, one each that held special memories for your brothers. For Ben, your black and gold LINE t-shirt, the one you’d won the summer you both went to Windell’s. I remember Ben always saying that you’d win everything and that he was never that lucky. For Justin, I chose your purple Fernie Freestyle Ski Club t-shirt. You know the one… you had a few because you’d worn out the first one. There are many pictures of you wearing this t-shirt under your flannel shirts. It was part of the classic “Will uniform”. Annette kindly sewed them into pillow covers (Thanks, Annette) and now your brothers have them on their beds.
The other was a gift for each of us from Justin. He insisted that his gift be the first one we opened on Christmas morning. Inside his beautiful wrapping (he might need a little work on this?) each of us received a mug that Amy had made and the two of them had designed. On each mug was the wolf that you’d drawn in kindergarten. I was unaware that transposing a real image was even possible on a handmade piece of pottery and am still in awe that he would know how precious this gift would be to all of us. They are priceless and I know I will treasure them forever.
The careful thought and love that we put into our Christmases without you is a beautiful testament to you and how much we miss you and love you. As your mom, I am so proud. You and Dad and your brothers are my everything and I couldn’t love any of you more than I already do. Nana and Pa shared Christmas with us this year and that was really special, too. It was quiet and had its share of laughter and tears like every Christmas going forward undoubtedly will.
New Years was again sad all over again. Though I tried to be more social this year, I found myself alone in my bed before the stroke of midnight wishing more than anything that the pillow I was holding was you. As midnight approached I could see the fireworks light up the darkness, hear them explode with loud bangs. I could hear the music and the laughter and the words “happy new year” being shared from one to another outside the window. Where I found comfort was snuggling with Dad and my pillow under the covers with my eyes closed remembering how much you loved staying up till all hours on this magical night to ring in a new year. I’ll try again next year and maybe it will be different. Or maybe it won’t. It will only be what it will be. But for now, the holiday has passed and I’ve settled once again into my routine. I am back at school, back in my community, back amongst friends and family where I can be me; where it feels safe to shed a tear or two, even when asked one of the questions I dread most this time of year, “How was your Christmas?”
So now, here I am 11 days in to 2014 and I am here. I know you are here with me, too, Will. There are gobs and gobs of snow outside; the biggest blanket of Willy we’ve had in a long time! Is it a coincidence that Mr. Blue Sky has just played on the radio? Maybe. But I know it’s you. And earlier this morning, I found a loonie and two quarters in the couch cushions while looking for my knitting needle. Another coincidence? Maybe. But again, I know it’s you. I think I will open that jigsaw puzzle today. Help me, Will, I think this one’s gonna be a doozy.
Love you, little blue. Like a bus and the beauty of every single, magical snowflake.