Rolling Down the Highway

April 28, 2019

Dear Will,

Gosh, sweet boy, it’s been a bit since I’ve put my words to you in a letter… but it sure doesn’t mean that I haven’t been talking to you. Not a day goes by where I don’t find myself having some sort of conversation with you. When I think about it, it must look awkward, even weird, to those who see and hear what looks like a one sided conversation… ahhh, but what they don’t know is that they aren’t one sided at all. I see you and I hear you in all kinds of ways.

I have spent the last few months travelling between what is our new home in Fernie and the place that will always feel like home back in Redwood and area. Both places so very special because they are the two places on this earth that you loved. One you called home and the other you dreamed of calling home. Each time I drive the three hours between those two places I settle into a trip down memory lane and the nostalgia gets me every time. When the sun is shining and the roads are bare I enjoy these road trips with you very much. As I pass the countryside and the landmarks along the way I imagine you are sitting on my left shoulder where my wise friend told me the boys angels sit. I hear you whisper in my ear, “Mom, can we stop and climb on the rocks at the Frank Slide?” “Can we stop for icecream?” “Mom, I have to pee… can you pull over? I can’t wait til we get to a gas station… I gotta go!”

I fondly remember the car games we played; the Geography Game, 20 Questions, and the “When I go to Fernie I’m gonna take my – something that begins with A, then B and C and so on. When you were little we’d play “I spy with my little eye” and no one could ever see what you where spying because, one, you were the random master of detail and, two, I know you would change your mind during play when one of us guessed correctly leading us on a goose chase of confusion until one of us would say “Will, I give up!”. On one of my trips not long ago I found myself playing the Sign Game all by myself. You loved that game, too.

All these family trips back and forth are vividly etched in my heart and as I sit with them now I am grateful that it was a time when phones and iPads and digital devices weren’t as popular as they are now. It gifted us hours and hours of looking out of the window instead of down at a screen. I remember how we’d moo at cows in the fields as we passed and how we sang Christmas carols at the top of our lungs for two months before Christmas. You knew them all.

I love how you’d pack your dark blue drawstring bag with all the possessions you couldn’t live without before we headed to and from Fernie. When you were small, there were little cars and a lego man or two, sometimes a yo-yo or Pokémon cards and always, always a bag of fishy crackers and a juice box. As you got older, that same blue bag held your iPod and your earbuds, your sticker collection, a couple of ski magazines, usually some candy and, always, always fishy crackers and a juice box.

I am smiling to myself now as I reminisce over how you couldn’t stop singing. You. Never. Stopped. Singing. Outside of the car, Will, it was how I knew where you were. Like for real. When you were small it was children’s songs and jingles and lots of Dad’s and your brothers’ music choices – songs that you grew up listening to. And then when you were 10 or 11 you got an iPod and discovered your own world of music. This was a happy time for you as your little world of music and singing exploded. And so did the quiet times in the car. You’d plug in your earbuds and sing and hum and sing and hum and sing and hum… with many reminders to please stop singing out loud. You just couldn’t do it. Not surprising, Dad and I just got back from visiting Uncle Jim in Kelowna and as we meandered along highways we’d never driven we listened to one of your playlists. Years ago, I downloaded it to my iTunes so that I could have it with me always. I’m pretty sure you were with us in the truck that day singing out loud with us as we drove through the mountains. Each song took us back to you and all the countless road trips we made as a family… so many bittersweets attached to that playlist.

These frequent trips I have been making between Fernie and “the hood” are full of memories that at the time seemed uneventful and at times frustrating. After all, a backseat filled with three boys wasn’t always harmonious. But as I look back now, the family time we spent rolling down the highways was a large part of how our family lived and played. What mattered is that we were together on all those drives and my heart swells as I let my mind wander back to those days when our world was perfect.

I miss you, sweet Will. And I will always love you. More than anything and like a bus full of fishy crackers and your favourite tunes rolling down the highway with the sun shining down on us and the windows wide open as we sing at the top of our lungs.