About Joni Bouchard

I am a mother of three boys; two who run and one who soars. I lost my youngest son, Will (age 12), on the long weekend of May 2011 in a tragic accident near our home The world as I knew it was shattered in an instant. My purpose now is to help and support moms who have lost children; to let them know that they are not alone on this painful journey. But, it's bigger than that. I am hopeful that my story, my reality, can serve as a reminder to moms who are not living the "unimaginable" to remind them that motherhood is a precious gift. Helping others, in turn, helps me.

Can Boys Really Be Super Heroes?

Batman Will on the trampoline

August 22, 2017

Hey Will,

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.


Shhhh…. Will is here. 


Me and my boy at the top of the Timber Chair in Fernie, BC

July 19, 2017

Hey Will,

The long, lazy days of summer are upon us and I enjoy the simplicity of these days so very much. Waking up when it feels right is a gift. My morning begins with a big cuppa joe as I contemplate the makings of my day and sometimes another cup to kickstart those contemplations into action. Occasionally, even with good intentions nothing gets crossed off the list and that, perhaps, might just be the very thing that I love the most. Why? Because it’s ok. Because there’s always tomorrow or the next day or the next. I haven’t always felt comfortable with this relaxed way of looking at things…. I guess I’ve mellowed over the years. And, well that’s a good thing.  

One of the difficult things that comes with this slower, almost lackadaisical pace, has been slowing down my mind; finding comfort in that space that, since your accident, held so much fear for me. My busy mind kept the very intense, painful feelings of losing you to a constant simmer instead of the gut wrenching pain that would creep into my thoughts whenever my mind was quiet. The “chatter” so to speak became a way for me to cope without you in the physical world; it became quite literally a way to survive. Allowing my busy mind to be quiet has been one of my biggest challenges and it is why I found the practice of yoga so difficult. A sobbing mom was hardly relaxing for anyone. 

These days quieting my mind and allowing thoughts of you to reside there have become a beautiful thing. Its taken a long time to get here and as I look back time was indeed my friend. There were days early on when it was just too painful to let my mind wander, too many times where if I allowed myself to do so my tears would takeover. Too many days where once the flood gates opened I could not stop the painful feelings and the scary, guttural cries of a mom in mourning. The fear that I would never be able to make them go away was very real. It’s been a long process, an evolution really, where time became the conduit to what I can now call a beautiful place. I’ve come to realize that you are my breath, my being, my reason to carry on and that my life story is you. I AM a mom who has lost a child and all the pain that comes with that incredibly painful loss has made me who I am now.

For a long time I looked for you, Will. Everywhere I went I looked for signs. I uncovered rocks and searched for butterflies and rainbows and snowflakes that sparkle in a certain way. The beautiful thing is that I’ve come to trust that I needn’t look for you because you are here all the time. All the things that are you find their way to me seemingly without effort — heart-shaped rocks at my feet, little blue butterflies on my path, the chirpiest bird outside my window, the chipmunk that just won’t stop nattering, dew drops on the grass that seem to wink at me in the morning sunlight, the twinkle of a faraway star and in the winter, those Willy white perfect snowfalls. You are everywhere. All the time. 

I wake with thoughts of you and close my eyes at the end of each day knowing that you are near. The spirit world has become one where I live more often than not… and I like it there. It is in this realm that I see you, hear you and feel your presence. I have come to trust that the spirit world lives in my mind and when I’m quiet you are all abuzz. Your love, your giggle, your warmth, your silliness, your sensitivity, your crazy boyishness; all that I miss so very much is all there. Of course, there are times when I have to make myself busy, kickstart my mind, get my list-making brain chugging along because if I didn’t, Will, nothing would ever get finished. Or started for that matter.

But here’s the other cool thing. When I’m chugging along you’re there chuggin’ along right beside me. You are my little messenger, the one who guides me and who makes me live in the moment. You have taught me to open my eyes and to believe. You have shown me just how important it is to make memories and to cherish those that mean everything to me. You have taught me to give life the gusto it sometimes requires and to also just stop and let things be.

I miss you here more than anything and I’d be lying if I told you I don’t cry. There are still lots and lots of tears but that’s ok, too. Tears are a part of loss and with deep love there is deep loss and lots and lots of tears. There really are no words for what losing a child feels like here on earth. Only when I quiet my mind can my heart really feel the kind of love that lifts me up. It’s a “Willy kind of love”. A big love where you and I measure big love with big busses. 

These long, lazy days of summer are full of you and in the quiet of this morning and in my mind at this moment there is abundant beauty. It will be a good day, Will, because I’m spending it with a million thoughts of you. 

Love you like a bus, sweet boy.  


For You. And For Dad.

Murray and Will

Will and Murray

June 17, 2017

Dear Will,

Today I write to you with beautiful memories of you and Dad. Tomorrow is Father’s Day and I am remembering all of the Dad’s Days that you celebrated with us down here. I also write to you in honour of Dad as tomorrow is one of those extra difficult days. Dad hurts; his heart still so broken and in every breath he will feel you and be thinking about you. As tomorrow dawns he will miss you more than usual — if that’s even possible.

All the precious, handmade cards and gifts you made with your hands and your heart are in the memory boxes that are bursting with treasures of you and your brothers. When we bring those boxes out and go through all the cards from happy days past we are brought to tears and smiles. The sad tears are mixed with gratitude as we often pause and comment on the magnitude of the gifts these boxes behold. Every piece of paper, every printed letter and written word, every stick man and simple illustration and every “I love you” are priceless gifts from you and your brothers. If there’s one thing I know for certain in this world it is that those bittersweet memory boxes are ones Dad and I will hold onto until the end of our days. Wherever we call home they will be with us… reminders of the most cherished parts of us. I still save every handmade card that we make for each other and wish more than anything that there were more from you. The “if onlys” that echo when we lift the lids of those boxes make us painfully aware of what could have been and what should have been. Sigh… if only…

This Father’s Day we will also be missing Ben as he is up north in a remote area of the Yukon at a summer job he has taken in his field of study. Watching and sharing in his graduation from UBC Okanagan last week brought Dad and I much joy and as we celebrated Ben’s convocation on the campus we talked about you constantly. We knew you were there too (you’d have not missed this!) and we were convinced that had we not lost you you’d be at that same university. We imagined you’d have finished your first year there as Ben finished his final year and we laughed thinking about the times you’d have been a thorn in his side wanting so much to be a part of his world there. Your Willy shenanigans aside, we know that if things were different, as your big brother, he’d have looked out for you there. Again… if only.

I am thankful Justin and Amy are here to join us for dinner tomorrow as we celebrate Dad. In a week from now Justin and Amy will take possession of and move into their first home. There is much excitement around this milestone as Dad and I remember our first home and sharing in their excitement will help make the day brighter for us. Even though there will be less chairs around the dinner table and through the underlying devastating sadness of losing you that is always present I know that Dad will enjoy our handmade cards and dinner in his honour. As we always do, we will reminisce and remember the happiest of all the very best Father’s Days when you were with us. When our world was perfect.

Please shine your little light especially on Dad tomorrow and on our Amy, too, as she endures her first Father’s Day without her wonderful Dad. Find her dad up there amongst the clouds, Will, and let him know that she’ll always have us to comfort her and carry her in her loss.

I know the day will be full of little blue butterflies and that in the silent parts of the day we’ll hear your giggle and your words, “Hey, Dad, watch this!” Of course, there will be tears because we miss you so very much but we also know that our hearts will be full of you — Bursting like all those precious memory boxes.

Love you, Little Blue. More than words and more than anything. Like a bus in a “bigger than the world” box of cherished memories and handmade cards.


My Heavy Heart

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My Heavy Heart

Dear Will,

Not surprisingly, the month of May is weighing heavily on my heart. Seventeen days in and having made it through another Mother’s Day I thought maybe, just maybe, I might get through it without falling down. Well, I was wrong. As I digitally put pen to paper to write you this letter you have to know that I’ve verbally penned a thousand letters to you already this month. For a long while I’ve been able to spin a positive message on my pain… but this month, it’s just too much.

The lead up to your “Angel date” and more specifically the throwback to what was your last full week of life is one that has repeatedly been the most painful. The struggle to find balance is a challenge and the recipe that mixes the ingredients of work and home changes from day to day and moment to moment. I tried to be at work today, Will. I thought that being with the kids at school would be the distraction that I needed but it didn’t play out that way. I know that being in the school you loved can be a double-edged sword and though I’ve experienced both sides, for a long time I have found incredible comfort within those walls. Your happy place was my happy place, too, however, finding myself in your hallway and in your classroom and ultimately staring at your locker today sent me into a tailspin that I couldn’t recover from. All of those triggers together today were just too much for me.

In hindsight what I needed today was to be at home inside the memory-laden walls of our home with Dad and our big, brown chocolate lab. As I write Finn is beside me (one could argue he is half on top of me) his head on my lap. I quickly take notice of his chest as it rises up and down rhythmically with each breath. I stop typing concentrating on matching my own breath with his, the steady in and out, inhale and exhale… I close my eyes and caress his warm, velvety ears and my heart begins to feel lighter, the sting of my tears not quite as sting-y. The heaviness of the morning dissipates a little in this moment and I feel grateful to be right where I am. I believe the lesson in these waves of overwhelming grief is to let them happen, to ride them out so to speak. Eventually the tears have to spill; after all a heart can only hold so much pain at one time.

In the rain/snow mix that is also today (how fitting?) I have found my spot on the couch with a blanket and the warmth of a fire burning in the fireplace. It is here now that I will sink into sleep while I think of you and happier times. I will reminisce about when our world was perfect and my heart didn’t know the heaviness of living without you.

I love you, Willy. Like a bus. A big, beautiful bus with a heart full of light and brown velvety chocolate lab ears.


Enough of the Snow Now!


Kathleen and I and YOU (the snowman!)

April 15, 2017


Hey Will,


It’s April.

It’s Spring.

And it’s snowing.



Even though living in Alberta all of my life I know that I shouldn’t be surprised to see snow this late please, please, enough of the snow now. I know that the snow you are bestowing upon us is you letting us know that you are here with us. I get that you’re messing with us and that you’re up there laughing yourself silly. You’ve made all that abundantly clear but I’m begging you to please put that snowmaking machine away and give us some blue sky and some green grass!  Sigh…. oh how happy I would be. The first few times I saw snowflakes after a big melt I did laugh and think it was funny (kind of?) but it is becoming less funny now.  I get how much you loved having the last word and how much you love snow but how about you get out your soccer ball now!?  Or your baseball mitt?  Or your bike!?

Baseball in the Spring. Note the green grass!

Soccer. Note the green grass!










This weekend is closing weekend for the ski resort in Fernie and though the base is still big and healthy thanks to you it IS time to put away your skis. I’m pretty sure I’m speaking for the masses (other than maybe your brother, Ben, who also loves winter).  Last week was brutal. Waking up to 8 inches of the white stuff when just the week before Dad thought it safe to take my winter tires off while I was happily getting used to wearing my shoes without socks. I couldn’t help but think how that was pretty darn nice.  The birds were singing in the early mornings – a joyous cacophony of the sounds of spring waking up the world after a long season of winter.


Please, little Mr. Blue Sky, hang up your skis now. Put the snow machine and all your magic snow potion in the back of your big heavenly closet up there and work on making the grass green.  You’re a funny one, Will. Always were and still are but it is time for you to send those wee blue butterflies down for a visit.





As you know I love you more than anything and I miss you every minute of every day. Each new season brings me a season closer to being with you and once my days down here on earth are done and I’ve joined you up in heaven I promise we can go crazy with that snow making machine and I won’t complain…. but until then sweet Will, please put that sucker away.


Love you like a bus, Willy. Parked on a patch of really green grass.







The Five or So People You Meet in Heaven

Will – Grade 7 Basketball

March 16, 2017


Dear Will,


As I’m sure you already know, your Grade 7 teacher (Mrs. Harford) has joined you on the other side and I wonder if you may have been one of the five or so people that met her in heaven? She was so lovely in so many ways and was a teacher that had begun to make a real difference in your learning of important life skills.


She had some real “mom like” qualities and was determined to teach you that amongst the obvious academics, you needed to know the importance of good organizational and strong time management skills. Stuff that I, as your mom, tried to teach you and your brothers over and over and over… A few things that Mrs. Harford had over me were 1) she wasn’t your mom, 2) she didn’t see how well you could dig in your heels, and 3) she was so lovely all of the time.


One thing you did super well was to present what you thought most important to a 12 year old boy and as I look back, YOUR grade 7 real world perspective was important. Well, most of it…


Friends and sleepovers and the importance of a bike and a pair of skis… A voice that always mattered and a warm bed… Help with homework and a ride to all those early morning practices… Age appropriate freedom like biking to school and ripping down to the park on your skateboard…Eating cookie dough and choosing your own new shoes, icecream and marshmallow science (when I wasn’t home), sitting ON Dad and a before bed tuck-in.


All these things were so important to you and though I didn’t buy in to candy before dinner and chocolate before bed you didn’t seem hungry when an apple or banana was the option, nor were you receptive to the word “no” even when “yes” was out of the question. (This is where Mrs. Harford didn’t see how well you could dig in your heels.) Grade 7 — a time when you were really coming into your own.


On Wednesday afternoon Mrs. Fisher sat beside me on the couch in front of our big living room window and as we shared tears and talked about Mrs. Harford’s battle with cancer she exclaimed mid-sentence, “look, it’s snowing? It’s Will!” The uncanny thing about this scenario is that it was +8 C and it should have been impossible for it to snow, but it did. You have taught me that nothing is impossible in heaven and so it was at that moment we agreed that you and Mrs. Harford had just met each other on the other side. Crazy? I think not. Why? Because you have taught me so much about the other side and what it’s like there. How else can one even try to explain snowflakes on a warm, sunny, spring day?


I hope that you were on your best behavior on Wednesday and that weren’t talking out of turn. Were you tidy and organized and on time? I know you may not have had matching socks or combed your hair (really, I can’t even remember a time when that actually happened down here, but you had that kind of hair!). All this aside, I do imagine that you had the biggest smile and that your bright, blue eyes and zest for fun showed her that you’d make it feel like some of the best parts of her life up there — in heaven where the skies are always blue and there is no such thing as cancer.


Love you sweet Will. Like a bus carrying the five or so people that met Mrs. Harford in heaven. Stay close to her, Will. She still had so much to teach you.






Windows to the Soul


Little Mr. Blue Eyes

Little Mr. Blue Eyes

February 23, 2017


Dear Will,


Your eyes. Those beautiful blue eyes. Yes indeed, they were the windows to your soul.


On the day you were born I will always remember how perfect you were. I counted your 10 fingers and 10 toes but I recall clear as day being drawn to what would become your signature — your eyes. Those beautiful, blue, little windows to the soul as evident then as they were every day of your too short, full to the brim life.


When you entered the world and the doctor placed you in my arms it was your eyes that got me — your little blue eyes, squinting as you took in the newness of the world — a tad brighter on the outside then it was inside the cramped quarters of my belly. Through tears of joy and the intense love I felt at that moment when I would finally meet my little prince, it was through those little, blue wondering eyes that I saw your soul. It seemed that as you grew, the bluer your eyes became and then those eyelashes arrived! It seemed so unfair that a boy would be so blessed with the eyelashes every girl dreamed of having.


Your eyes told great stories, Will. Stories of wonderment and adventure, of lessons learned and of the sometimes trouble you’d find yourself in, of the mischief you’d pitch and of the love that you believed could conquer everything (and it did). Your eyes could smile and laugh too and, of course, they could also spill big alligator tears when you were sad or hurt. I will always cherish how telling they were — how with one look at your eyes I knew how you were feeling (and, I might add, if you were telling the truth).


One thing that always got me was how you’d draw me in with your eyes and when you had my attention how you’d flare your nostrils in and out, in and out until I couldn’t help but laugh or lose it. This was a Willy tactic for sure and you’d use it frequently…. Most times when I was angry with you or when I needed your attention. I also recall that it became a Ben “button pusher” and was as annoying to him as the tried and tested “copy everything you say” strategy to have him want to pound you. Funny thing, Finn our big brown dog does it too. I swear it’s you, Will. He draws me in through his eyes just like you did and once he’s got me, BAM, the nostril-flaring thing begins. It gets me every time.


When I look at photos of you I am still drawn to your blue eyes. In some of the photos like the one Mary shared with me recently (the one above) I feel like you are staring at me and I feel your big love.


Your beautiful blue eyes are unforgettable, Will. Those beautiful blue eyes. No question, they were the windows to your soul.


I love you, Little Blue.. More than everything and a bus and a blue sky the colour of your eyes.





A Marshmallow World

Living in Marshmallow World in Redwood Meadows

Living in Marshmallow World in Redwood Meadows

January 29, 2017


Dear Will,


Well, true to Alberta (and Fernie form) its now chinooking outside and a melt is underway. When I walked Finn yesterday afternoon careful to avoid the puddles and the ice lurking beneath them I was remembering the marshmallow world that blanketed us just weeks ago. Large tufts of snow on branches and trees, on mailboxes and fence posts and anywhere that allowed a flat space for snow to accumulate I was filled with thoughts of you. The freezing temperatures brought “Christmas card snow” – you know, the kind that falls straight down with no wind to swirl it around or blow it off all the places that marked how deep and substantial that Willy blanket really was. Though cold enough to freeze my fingers and toes I couldn’t help but take in the beauty of the snowfall and how it formed marshmallow sculptures wherever it was possible. All of that snow and the beauty it created is so you.











Taking in that marshmallow world made me think of how much you loved marshmallows. Your love of those blobs of pure sugar started with the small ones in a cup of hot chocolate and in my weak moments of motherhood how I’d offer them to you in a little bowl with raisins and/or cheerios. When I’d catch you with your little hand in the marshmallow bag I knew it was time to move the bag to a higher shelf in the pantry… sometimes behind cereal boxes so you couldn’t find them. After a bit of a battle with the little ones you finally gave up or perhaps the right way to say it was that you outgrew the little ones and grew into the large ones. And so began the world of making S’mores and roasting marshmallows over a fire on a stick.


fullsizerenderLike your brothers and what seems is a right of passage for all kids you learned the art of roasting the perfect marshmallow after many were sacrificed to the fire and if they didn’t fall off the stick into the fire you’d offer the black crispy blobs that you’d have to blow flames off of to Dad or me thinking that adults liked to eat these black ashes that were clearly not marshmallows anymore.


OH, and then began the “Marshmallow Science” and where I had to draw a line in the sand and prohibit marshmallows going into the microwave. First Ben and then you. But as the little brother and true to your personality you had to have the last word and so the marshmallow science continued when I wasn’t home. However, I’d find the evidence… You guys seemed to get such pleasure putting a marshmallow on a plate and into the microwave watching the marshmallow puff up to at least 10x its original size. I remember watching your eyeballs grow wider and wider at the sheer joy of watching it grow. Then you guys would take it out of the microwave and put the plate out in the snow or into the freezer depending on the season. It would cool and then you’d try to eat it. Other than all the sugary goo (!) it seemed rather harmless … that is until it came time to wash the plate and that seemed to fall into my pile of things to do.

Marshmallow Science and the mess that ensued...

Marshmallow Science and the mess that ensued…

It was then that I remember clearly having to put a stop to the marshmallow science because it was near impossible to wash the residue off of the plates without a heavy duty scraping tool. To this day I’m not certain that this type of tool falls under the category of a kitchen utensil. It was at this point that I believe your love of marshmallows stopped.


Now when I see marshmallow snow I am reminded of your love affair with marshmallows and how much enjoyment they brought you. I smile now remembering what began as a little morsel of sugary goodness in a bowl when you were a toddler to the fiery blob of sugar on a stick that resulted in black, crispy blobs of ash to the perfect marshmallow in a s’more and to the ever popular (aka EVIL) marshmallow science that I had to put an end to. I’ll bet, just to have the last word, you’re up there making marshmallow science where no one can stop you and that when you bestow upon us down here on earth a beautiful marshmallow world of snow that you are laughing your head off up there. Of course, you are.


I miss you so much, Will, and love you beyond everything and anything. Bigger than a bus full of marshmallows in a snowy marshmallow world.








Love Bursts

A love burst memory

A love burst memory of a ski day in Fernie

December 31, 2016

Dear Will,

Well, sweet One, December has been quite a month. For me (your Type A Mom!) it was a month that will go down in the books as one that reminded me that even with all of the best intentions sometimes plans can go sideways and coming up with a Plan B can be good, too. I will also remember this December as one that beckoned even more strength than usual. With the holiday season our broken hearts seem more broken than ever and I realize that the jagged edges of losing you have not smoothed over time. Some things are just not possible and not having you in our earthly world will always be the most painful thing to endure. No matter the day, the month or the year.

In mid December your biggest brother became ill and we learned that his appendix had unfortunately burst. With that came an emergency surgery followed by 11 days in hospital. Not only did he spend his 28th birthday in hospital but as Christmas Day approached there was the probability that he would have to remain in hospital due to the serious abdominal infection he was fighting. It was an easy decision to accept that we’d forego Christmas in Fernie as Christmas without Justin was never an option.

My favourite gingerbread boy.  The one you made.

My favourite gingerbread boy. The one you made.

So Plan B ensued and Dad dug out the tiny artificial tree from the basement and brought up the box of Christmas decorations that I opened only once since losing you. That box held all of the special handmade ornaments that you boys made in kindergarten and elementary school – those special Christmases when magic pumped through your veins and through our house right down to bells on boots and zipper pulls, special Santa pillowcases and advent calendars and boxes and cups of hot chocolate stuffed with marshmallows while reading Christmas books in our jammies. The first Christmas without you I’d pulled out only a few to take with us to Fernie where, out of mere survival and the need to have certain special things in our midst, we began a new tradition. Our new Willy Christmases are all about you. Your Santa hat or toque has replaced the angel figure that used to grace the top of our tree and we adorn the tree branches with all of our family ski passes over the years. IMG_1783Each year I have added sparkly snowflakes of all colors and sizes, fuzzy snowballs and the glitteriest things I could find. All the while I’d not forgotten that at home was that very special box of Christmas treasures and one that I knew one day when I was ready I’d open again and cherish more than I had ever before. Well, that day did come and though I might not have been ready it seemed the right thing to put on our little tree. And so I did. And it was beautiful, Will.

As each day brought us closer to Christmas we continued to pray that Justin would be well enough to come home and each day we’d hear again the “not today” news. We decided that if Justin couldn’t come to us, we’d take Christmas to him. With a heavy heart on Christmas morning I went upstairs to bathe and dress so we could go to the hospital and when I came down the stairs what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Justin and Amy sitting on the couch in our living room in front of our little tree. There were only two things I could do, Will. One was to cry and the other was to hold on to the stair railing so I wouldn’t fall. For the rest of my life I will always remember that moment of surprise and how my heart burst. Oh, how I love a love burst! We had a wonderful day complete with Christmas dinner and though Justin needed to return to hospital that evening we knew that if they’d allowed him a day pass that a hospital discharge was not far away. Our wish came true the next day.

As I look back now this last day of 2016 I think about the love bursts of the year and am refilling my heart with the happy moments that will help sustain me as I flip the calendar to a new year and another painful reminder of the passage of time. I think about all of the signs you continue to send our way — the magical rainbows, the sunspots and the beautiful sparkly snowflakes that can only be you. I think about another successful Ride For Will and how your legacy just keeps on keepin’ on. I think about Justin marrying his Amy and the girl that we are delighted to have as part of our family. I think about Ben and the love for the outdoors that is his passion and the exhilaration and anticipation that comes with completing his last year of university. I think of Dad and how we continue to hold each other in happy times and how we find comfort in each other’s arms when the world is too much to bear. I think of Finn and how much joy he brings to our home and I swear that lurking behind his knowing eyes are your eyes and a place I often look to for love bursts. For all of these moments I am grateful and when I wake tomorrow to 2017 I will continue to fill my heart with all of these moments while I search for and cultivate more.

I love you, Sweet Will. Like a bus full of love bursts and sparkles and glittery things and all the things that I cherish most in my life… you, your brothers, your Dad and our big, brown dog.


As November Wanes

Our Will.  When our world was perfect.

Our Will.
When our world was perfect.

November 30, 2016

Dear Willy,

As November wanes I find myself between reflecting on the happy moments of this fall and then trying to wrap myself around how I will find the gumption to face another December and the painful feelings that come with the holiday season.

This October 22 was one of our happiest days as we witnessed your big brother marry the love of his life and the girl we, too, love to bits. I can’t help but wonder, Will, if maybe you had something to do with them marrying on a 2-2 day thinking that a sprinkle of happy was what we needed going forward and that perhaps having a happy measure of time would make it a little easier for us on the 22nd day of every month? It wouldn’t surprise me since all of your short life you were all about spreading smiles and cultivating happiness. I must also tell you, Will, that being the only female in a family of five, for me it was a wish come true that our family has grown to include a daughter-in-law. The only sad part for me was that in a perfect world you’d have been there too and that your Willy shenanigans would have been part of their day. I wish you and Amy would have had the chance to know each other. I do know you’d love her as we do.

Tomorrow will be the first day of December and the heaviness I feel not only typing the word “December”, but also hearing and saying that word conjures up an emptiness that just never goes away. We’ve done this December thing now for five years and one might expect that it should be easier for us but it just isn’t. I do try to find love and light in each of December’s days but there are times when I have to dig real deep and sometimes to no avail. Amongst them, however, we find a jewel here and there – like Justin’s birthday, for one. December 17th always makes us smile but there is no denying that when you were here to celebrate with us the day was just better.

As November wanes and I wake to the first sunrise of December I will take a big, deep breath and before I open my eyes tomorrow morning I will take a moment longer and feel you in the deepest parts of my heart. I couldn’t love you more or miss you more than I already do and you will always be the first person I see before I open my eyes. I will think about all the sparkles that you are waiting to sprinkle upon us and the love and light that you want us to feel so deeply. We will find some smiles in our December days but you must know, Willy, that our smiles were the biggest and the brightest when you were living December with us.

I love you, sweet Will. Bigger than a bus and, as November wanes, brighter than a super moon.