Tuesday, October 7, 2014
For seven days now memories of the beautiful day in October when you were born are all I think about. Each year since your tragic passing it has been the same — as soon as September turns to October your birthday consumes me. On the first day of every October you would start by announcing, “14 days till my birthday!” and in the next breath, “What are we gonna do!?” Then the countdown would begin. A week from today you would have reached a milestone birthday – you’d be 16 years old. It is difficult for me to wrap my head around this because 16 seemed so far away when we celebrated your 12th birthday and what would be your last with us here. Like your brothers and most everybody turning 16, I suppose that getting your drivers license would be the first and most important thing on your list and right about now I imagine that you’d be scouring the Alberta Drivers License booklet refreshing yourself of all the facts you’d need to know so you could pass your drivers test. “Mom, can you quiz me?” “Can you ask me some questions after dinner?” “Mom, I think I’ve got it! But please can you ask me some more questions?” “Please, pretty please…?” As October 14th approaches I wish more than anything that you were here driving me crazy with your persistent excitement at turning 16 years old. Gosh, Will, if only it were different…
Instead, the memories of the twelve birthdays we celebrated together hit me like ocean waves rolling up on the beach. One memory after another conjures up endless pictures in my mind, numerous conversations and laughs we shared, and all the angel food cakes, icecream, and pizzas that were part of your special day. I remember all the places we went (bowling, gymnastics, swimming, and movies) and the times, too, when we had your birthday party at home. I think of how our kitchen table was surrounded by your friends, all with orange-dyed lips from the orange pop that you loved so much. Each time I write the word October or hear it in conversation or see it on a calendar or a piece of paper I feel sad; sad for what should be, for what you missed, and for what we missed too. It’ll never be right that you didn’t see sixteen Octobers.
With you ever present in my mind and while walking Finn down by the river this afternoon, a little yellow butterfly appeared. In an instant I knew it was you and as I walked and Finn chased his ball I talked to you. It felt nice to say your name and so I said it over and over. When I’d stop to pick up the ball with the chucker the little yellow butterfly would stop too. And then start. And then stop. This went on for quite some time and while tears rolled down my cheeks I noticed I was smiling too. You have this way, Will, of showing up when I need you, of validating my belief that you really are here and that you are never far away. As I struggle with what would have been your sixteenth October I applaud that little yellow butterfly that so profoundly visited Finn and me this afternoon. Thank you for finding me.
I love you, Willy. More than a bus and sixteen million Octobers.