October 14, 2016
For weeks this day has loomed large and with it I have struggled wishing so very much that it would be what it should be. Today we remember the day eighteen years ago that we held you for the first time. Welcoming you into our world and into our arms on that sunny, fall day 18 years ago is a memory that is etched in my heart – such a joyous day it was. For 12 ½ years you were everything to us, you completed our family. You, our third and last son and the one perhaps we savoured the most because we knew you were our last. Five chairs at the kitchen table felt right, five of us in the vehicle – you three boys fighting in the backseat – felt right.
On this day for 12 years I added a candle to your birthday cake watching you grow year to year and loving you fiercely for all that you were. The baby with the soft, blonde curls, the toddler who believed that he WAS Batman and wore rubber boots everywhere for seven months. You were the little boy who celebrated every loose tooth because it was one day closer to having big boy teeth like Ben, the boy with the bluest of eyes and the longest of lashes who could seemingly pull his peers into ridiculous fun at school even when it was frowned upon by your teachers.
You were the boy who effortlessly seemed to shine in every sport you participated in, the boy with a soft heart who always rooted for the underdog and the boy on the brink of adolescence who was coming into his own in such a big way. You celebrated each milestone with such vigor and made sure that none of them went unnoticed. Today, I fast forward 18 years and realize that 18 candles on a birthday cake may not have been how you’d have wanted to mark this day. I’m pretty sure that, even with a cake and balloons, today would have been about the celebratory beer.
I’m not even sure how to navigate through today. Getting out of bed this morning was terribly difficult. Another of those days where I wish I was with you in heaven whipping up a big, birthday cake – angel food, of course. And then I’d open up heaven’s big, white fridge and find you a cold, frosty beer – ahhh your first legal beer. What will we do today down here without you? Well, in heaven or down here this day will always be your day, Will. From sun up to sun down you will be all I think about. I won’t be wrapping a birthday gift but instead will remember the gift that you were and are. I’ll think about when we’re together again and how we’ll be able to celebrate all of our missed days and moments and birthdays. Dad and I and your brothers chatted about your upcoming birthday last weekend at our Thanksgiving dinner knowing that your birthday would fall on a day that we wouldn’t be together. We’ll be thinking about you and each of us will honor you in our own way. Then, at 7:00 pm we’ll raise a beer in honor of your 18th birthday. I’m going to invite your friends to do the same… cause I know full well that if you were here you’d be in the middle of a beer raising like no other.
There are no words to describe how much I miss you, Will. Forever the 14th day of October will be the day we joyously welcomed you into our world. A day once filled with balloons and cake and cards and presents now comes with only memories of the birthdays we were lucky to celebrate with you and tears for the ones we were robbed of. You are the gift of October 14. It is still your special day and we will honor and remember you always.
Love you, Willy. Like a bus, of course. Full of your buddies and your brothers and big ass beers.