Sometimes one person can be missing and the whole world feels empty

~ anonymous ~

JoniBouchard.jpgWelcome to my Love Letters to Will. I am the mother of three boys; two who run and one who soars. Tragically, on the long weekend in May 2011, I lost my youngest son, Will, at the age of 12 1/2. Losing Will has changed me and life as I knew it forever. To imagine is one thing, but to have to live it is another.

In the first year, I wrote Will a daily love letter. I talked to him everyday for 12½ years and I wasn’t about to stop. I couldn’t stop. This daily ritual helped me to, quite literally, survive. I looked forward to some time each day to be with him, to talk to him, to write to him, to imagine that he was sitting with me talking like we used to.

I still write to Will, though not every day. Sometimes I sit in my comfy chair, sometimes I lay in his bed propped up against his pillows like when we used to read together before his bedtime. I’ve taken my laptop down to the river and sat on the banks, written to him while I waited in a waiting room or an office; I’ve written to him as I sat in the passenger seat on our way to Fernie, woken in the early morning before the busyness of the day to write to him, and sometimes made it the last thing I did before I climbed into my own bed. It doesn’t matter where I am or what time it is… I look forward to my quiet time with Will and to writing him a letter.

I’ll need to explain a couple of things that won’t make any sense if you have no background of my relationship with Will. First, Will had many nicknames and I often refer to him in my letters as Willy (obvious), and the WillBilly (I’m not even sure how and when that started, but we called him that often), and “Little Mr. Blue Sky” (after his favourite song, Mr. Blue Sky by ELO). Secondly, for as long as I can remember, Will and I ended each day with a tuck in and the words “love you like a bus”. I know it doesn’t make sense, but when he was little, buses were huge in his world and he believed that you could never love anyone or anything bigger than a bus. And so, this phrase evolved and we used it always. So when I end a letter with that phrase which Will and I sometimes shortened to “lulab” (love u like a bus) you’ll get what I mean.

If you, too,  are a mom who is living the unimaginable loss of a child I hope that through sharing my Love Letters to Will you will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone.  You  might find parallels in your own journey and are looking for a way to continue a relationship with your child, even though it is not the physical one that we on earth only know.  Thank you for allowing me to share my Will with you in this way.

To those of you who have your children I hope that my Love Letters to Will will remind you that Motherhood is a labour of love and that your children are gifts.  There are days when mothering is difficult, when we sometimes wish away the hard parts, but here is what I know for sure. Nothing will ever be as difficult as losing them.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Dear Will,

It’s been a while since I’ve put pen to paper (or as one would say nowadays, fingers to QWERTY keyboard). It is not for lack of thinking of you or talking to you, in fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear you say, “you sure do talk a lot, Mom.” Duh, no surprise there. I’ve tried all summer to find the right time to just sit with you instead of nattering to you endlessly while I purged and packed, sold and donated, dumped and repurposed, unpacked and nested, arranged and rearranged…. and I’m still doing it. Summer has been full of all of that and lots of road trips back and forth from Redwood to Fernie. And now, the next chapter has officially begun.

This chapter begins with downsizing from our five bedroom home to two (and a bunkie). How novel for the Bouchard’s to own one home instead of maintaining two for so many years. We said goodbye to our home in Redwood on August 6th and though we knew our farewell to 22 years in Redwood Meadows would be difficult, let me just tell you that I created my own little river of tears as I said goodbye to every room in our home. The only thing that kept me sane was knowing that we were relocating to the mountain town where we have played as a family for 28 years. You always said you wanted to move here and well, here we are, Willy!

What makes this easier is knowing that you are very much here with us. Not surprising, part of you and us will live in the trees and on the paths beside the river in Redwood Meadows. The indelible memories of having lived the very best of life raising you and your brothers in such a safe and magical place is inseparable. It’s a kind of “you can take the mom out of Redwood but you can’t take Redwood out of the mom” kind of feeling. I do wholeheartedly believe that one cannot ever really leave Redwood. Kind of like the Eagles’ Hotel California in some ways.


Raising our boys in Redwood Meadows… the very best of life

It is important to note that living in our mountain play place full time is a transition and will take some time as Dad is still very much working in Calgary. Retirement is not in the short term picture yet but owning one home sure has its advantages. Dad and Ben are renting a condo in Calgary… two peas in a pod living very much in a pod. My frequent trips to Calgary will include visits to the condo, visits with Justin and Amy at their home and visits with my forever friends in Redwood and Bragg Creek. I look forward to all of this as it would have been impossibly difficult to move “cold turkey”.

Having you with me, Will, is the constant in this life that makes everything possible. There is peace knowing that it matters not where we are, but who we take with us in our hearts that is most important. This time, my sweet boy, it was I who took your hand and lead you down hwy 22 and then a right onto hwy 3 instead of you taking mine while we danced in the clouds. And now that I’m here my hand is back in yours ready to dance once again in the heavenly skies.

I love you, Willy. More than all the happy times in Redwood packed into a bus beside the Elbow River where the little blue butterflies flutter and the most magical of snowflakes fall (sometimes too frequently… like in the late spring… grrrr). That is big love, my sweet boy. Big. Bus. Love.



Will’s Mountain Bike Trail at Fernie Alpine Resort


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