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.

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.


Cake and Balloons to Balloons and Beer

Birthday balloons thanks to Lynnie. Always makes October 14th a little brighter for us.

Birthday balloons thanks to Lynnie. Always makes October 14th a little brighter for us.

October 14, 2016


Hey Willy,


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.


Will's 6th Birthday. With his big brothers, Justin and Ben

Will’s 6th Birthday.
With his big brothers, Justin and Ben

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.

Basketball, Grade 7

Basketball, Grade 7

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.




September and Socks

Will, Brent and Jordan.  Friends Then, Friends Still

Will, Brent and Jordan.
Friends Then, Friends Still

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hey Will,

Well, fall is definitely in the air these days and the crisp mornings, yellow leaves and fall smells have enveloped me in what I can only describe as my favourite season. Soon the snow will fly and your favourite season will be upon us. For now, though, I will savour everything that is fall and will remember all of what September was to our family when our world was perfect.

For a few years now, September is the month Ben returns to university and Dad and I are confronted again with living alone in the house that for a long time was filled with all you boys and all the smelly stuff that is part of you guys. The best Septembers were when you were all here at home — three new school backpacks hanging in the closet, three new pairs of outdoor shoes in the vicinity of the front door and oodles of brand new socks after all the old tattered and mismatched ones with holes were silently thrown away before school started again. New socks… such a September right of passage…

Sadly, this September should have been our first empty nest, Will, but life threw us that terrible tragedy 5 ½ years ago and we were robbed of precious time. A lifetime with you would never have been enough but oh, to have had more time… I’ve spent much of this month wondering where you’d be this first September after high school, and knowing of course that you’d be at UBC in the Okanangan – Just. Like. Ben. No one would be surprised as your idolization for Ben was no secret. You do know it drove your brother crazy but raining on his parade was what you loved to do and to do that at university would have been a proud feather in your cap.

I’ve frequently thought about Kathleen too and hoped that she would be on the good side of your conscience; a reminder to you to make good choices. I have also thought a lot about your friends, Jordan and Brent, who are also at UBC in Kelowna and I just know that the three of you would be thick as thieves on that campus and that I’d be worrying myself crazy… then in the next breath wishing more than anything that it was true and that I had the chance to worry about you. Sigh. I’d give anything to have all of that. I was corresponding with Jordan mid September, wondering how he was doing, and when your name came up he, too, agreed that in a perfect world you’d be there with them. I reminded him that as an angel you were there looking out for them, keeping them safe and sharing in the fun. He replied that he knew you were. My heart smiles, Will, when I hear that your friends still keep you close. I hope that they will for all of their lives.

Next weekend is Thanksgiving and Ben will be coming home. And Kathleen. And Brent. And Jordan. Ben who has adapted to being away from home and whom we are used to coming home and then going again, but for the others coming home having just spent their first September at university will be a bit more exciting. Not just for them, but for their parents and families, too. Dinner is always better when everyone is sitting around the table and we’re blessed that Justin is able to come for dinner frequently. Having Ben at home for Thanksgiving is something I look forward to very much. I count the days. I imagine in our perfect world that once in the driveway you’d pile out of the car on his coat tails leaving everything in the back seat and make a run for the front door thinking it was a race to get their first while he’d saunter in, leaving a trail of things he was bringing with him from the back seat. Of course, there’d be hugs and then to the refrigerator you’d both go only this time it would be a race to see who’d get there first. It’s difficult still to live with the reality that you won’t be returning home too, and the pining that my heart feels tugs heavily on my heartstrings sometimes still pulling me down to my knees.

Instead, I know that you’ll be with us in spirit. That you’ll be sitting in your spot at the table. We’ll talk about you like we always do and we’ll be grateful for the times we did have together. We’ll reminisce about all of the Septembers that we did have and we’ll laugh and cry and eat turkey and mashed potatoes til our tummies are ready to explode. And then I’ll pick up all the dirty, new socks that will have littered the house whilst Ben is home…

Love you, Willy. Like a bus full of brand new socks.