January 15, 2016
My Sweet Will,
2016. The first thing that comes to my mind is the number five. The passing of time seems always to be where my mind, without even thinking, drifts first. For fifteen days now we’re into a new year and I shake my head in disbelief knowing that it will be 5 years this May. I wonder over and over, also in disbelief, how it could even be possible that yesterday and forever can seem the same? Time is funny that way.
I read a post on Facebook this morning that spoke to me in a profound way. Instantly, I thought about the words I wrote in my tribute to you – the words that Mary read on my behalf at your Celebration of Life six days after our world changed forever. I wanted to reprint them here in your letter so you are reminded of what I miss the most about you, Will.
“Last Sunday I experienced every mother’s “unimaginable”. I lost my WillBilly. On that evening, a part of me was lost with Will as well; Partly, because I have this overwhelming need to be with him and also because at twelve years of age, quite frankly, he still needs his mom. Surrounding his passing are emotions beyond words.
I recently read (not once, but three times) Katrina Kenison’s book, “The Gift of an Ordinary Day” and many of the words I am sharing with you today were born from hers and some word for word as it seems Moms everywhere convey the same kind of love.
Katrina writes and it couldn’t be more true for me that “One of the hardest lessons I am learning is that the answers to the really big questions, the answers I most hunger for, don’t ever come to us from the outside; rather, they come from a quiet place within. A place we can reach only when we find within ourselves the courage to pause, to abide for a while in that place of not knowing, to be at peace even with our uncertainties, and then to listen and attend with the ear of our own hearts.”
I often find myself thinking back to when Will was really small. Days that began with cinnamon toast cut into finger size pieces and might end with made-up stories or shadow pictures on a bedroom wall. In between there were walks to the river, picnic lunches at the park, popsicles, hot wheels and miles and miles of orange track that would meander around our living room furniture. And then there was lego. Lots. And. Lots. Of. Lego. Crayola markers, playdough, puzzles, a plastic wading pool and a lawn sprinkler that could enchant a neighbourhood of kids for hours, a shallow red dish full of dish soap and glycerin, and magic wands that once waved hundreds of wobbly, irridescent bubbles into the air.
As he grew, so did his world. Sports became a part of Will and as long as he had friends (and he had many) to do them with he was having the time of his life. A trampoline, a bag of candy, a pair of park skis and powder skis, fancy goggles, snow, sleepovers, bacon, his iPod, bouncy balls, Kathleen, Kale, hoodies, hats, a flannel shirt, his constant singing, his laugh and most of all a family who loved him beyond words were all that mattered. Simple, ordinary pleasures.
It’s still hard for me to believe that all of this has vanished, that those times are truly gone for good. Thankfully, what I have now are countless, beautiful memories that scroll endlessly in my mind. Memories of his constant show of affection, as well as the countless peanut butter and banana sandwiches, bedtime stories, earaches and scraped knees, baking soda volcanoes, snowball fights, trips into Bragg Creek for icecream and how I hauled his baritone sax to and from school every week because it was too big to carry on the bus. How I harped at him to finish his homework and how I had to remind him to pick up his wet towel off the floor every morning. Yet I am grateful to have had all of those moments, for they are the ones that have turned out, in the end, to be the most precious recollections of all, even though they went unrecorded, unwritten, unremarked on at the time.
Our photo albums and computers are full of pictures of birthday cakes and holiday celebrations, vacation trips and family adventures. But the memories I find myself holding onto the tightest, the ones that I will cherish for the rest of my life are the ones that you couldn’t capture in a photograph. His giggle, his “I love you, moms”, his little boy arms around my neck and his final words every night, “Mom, can you tuck me in?” followed by, “I love you like a bus.” Quite simply, a family’s life as it is from one hour, or day, or season, to the next. The most wonderful gift we had and the gift I will cherish above all else, was the gift of all those perfectly ordinary days.
I will always carry Will with me. Everywhere I go. Forever.”
(from my Tribute to Will, May 28, 2011)
What I want you to always know, Willy, is that I couldn’t miss you more than I did back then or more than I do now. All of those perfectly ordinary moments have become what I cherish most in life. They are the movie that plays over and over and over in my heart.
And just like we ended each of our days all those days ago,
… I love you like a bus, Willy. A big, ole ordinary bus with perfectly ordinary wheels.