August 22, 2017
I cannot stop thinking about a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago with an 8 year old boy in Fernie. This boy, the youngest child of friends of ours, and whose older siblings you would remember, is an unforgettable kid. Like you, his eyes were full of wonder and at his young age he is already quite an athlete. Also like you, he has two older siblings whom he idolizes and it feels like he might be on that same mission you were on to out-do, out-wit, and out-shine them whenever you thought you had a chance. You must remember, Willy, that this didn’t always work in your favour… sometimes the pecking order did rule. Me saying, “be patient, little man” over and over seemed to feed your little fire!
It was a beautiful, warm evening and we were at a fundraiser for Avalanche Canada up at the Resort. While chit-chatting with this boy’s mom I think he must have overheard us talking about you. He came over – a wee bit shy at first – and whilst climbing all over the chair and the railing and whatever else he could grasp onto while balancing on one leg he was at the same time hanging onto our words. His mom asked him to tell me what the name of his favourite ski run is and without hesitation he said, “Wills Run”. I looked into his full-of-life eyes and told him that you were my son; that I was the mom of the boy who Will’s Run was named after. He looked at me like you were some kind of super hero. He already knew much about you, Will, and he lit up when I told him that he reminded me of you. We talked about freestyle skiing and how the naming of your run came about. He listened with such intent, never interrupting, like he was hungry to hear more. So, of course, I told him a story or two or ten. Then he asked, “Would Will like me?” I felt my heart skip a couple of beats — his question full of so much feeling and a question that caught me off guard. I took his little hands into my own and told him that you’d have loved everything about him. He was so happy to know this. His Mom told me that he’d asked her the same question earlier in the day. It goes to show that acceptance is a huge thing no matter how old we are. And it also goes to show that no matter how old we are we seek out those who make us feel good in this world. This 8 year old boy made my day special because of what you mean to him. It was such a cool conversation we shared and I am so grateful to have had it.
That night was yet another time where I wondered to myself then and over and over these last couple of weeks if you really get how big you are, Will. For a 12 year old boy with a slight build and big feet you seem to have this super hero aura. And I think to myself that if you can be that kind of example to another boy then I am the proudest mom in the land. I am over the moon proud of who you were and what you stood for. I am proud of how you brought out the best in people, young and old alike. The goodness you held in your heart and the kindness you showed to others was beautiful. And guess what? Perhaps the most astonishing thing of all is that you continue to do so still…even from the other side.
My heart grew that day because that boy reminded me of you. I am glad that he knows your legacy and that he asked the questions that many are afraid to ask. And I hope that because he knows that you’d have liked him he’ll enjoy his turns down your run more than he did before. You’re quite something, Will. Something bigger than life in this little mountain town.
I love you, little big man. Bigger than a little big bus in a little ski town in the big mountains.