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.

May. Another Circle Around The Sun Begins.

May 13, 2018

Here we go again. The hardest month of the year is upon us and as your angel date approaches it is this month that is the biggest reminder of the passage of time. The 22nd day of May will mark seven years since our worst day ever and it still feels like yesterday and forever. How can time dance between these two extremes?

May brings with it a flood of memories; an abundant and beautiful playlist of memories that no one can ever take from me. The onset of May meant soccer at the park, riding your bike and wearing shorts again. After a long winter it was the month where we’d have to shop for new shorts and t-shirts and pull out Ben’s hand-me-downs because of how much you grew since we switched them out for warmer clothes and snow pants. With May also comes Mother’s Day and what used to be one of my favourite days of the year. Now, not so much. There is an emptiness that nothing can fill and the empty chair at the table is so blatantly noticeable on this day. I will always treasure the gifts you and your brothers made at school when you were all small. I have kept them all, along with every handmade card.

I will play all of my moments with you over and over and over a million times throughout my lifetime, Will. There is solace in recalling the many happy moments but on the other side of all that “happy” is the pining and longing I have for all that was lost and all that could have been and will never be… watching you navigate through your teen years (whilst pulling my hair out on occasion, I’m sure) and then transitioning from man cub to man. Missing out on celebrating the milestones you’d have enjoyed along the way and all the beautiful, ordinary moments and days in between is something that will haunt me for all my days. There is an aching sadness in thinking about that. A month that used to hold such promise and a change of seasons now feels so different. My patience is thinner, my heart is heavier and the onset of tears sits so close to the surface of my being that I can feel their sting.

And yet, I try. I try to be positive, to be hopeful and to be grateful for the little blessings that present themselves each day because I know, Will, that this is what you want for me. I spend more time these days practicing self care and wake each day with the intent to be kinder to myself… because I need to. Walking our chocolate lab down by the river is the best medicine on these May days. I try to be in less of a hurry and to be patient while Finn sniffs everything in sight. It’s quite a ritual he practices and with every sniff of every tree or rock or patch of grass, dog experts say that he can recall which one of his furry friends pee’d there and when. It’s crazy to think about, really, but for whatever reason he must just need to know this stuff. Silly dogs.

Today, I noticed many fat robins strutting around the ground with their proud, red breasts looking for bits and pieces to finish building their nests so they can lay their eggs soon. Last week I picked some pussy willows and put them in a little jar beside my kitchen sink. Such happy little fur balls and I thought to myself that if I was a plant I’d surely love a little fur coat to keep me warm on the not so sunny spring days. While I walked I noticed all the signs of renewal that Mother Nature so intentionally orchestrates. I thought about how hardy the trees and bushes are when after a long winter they spread their branches up to the sky in an effort to begin their growing cycle again. I love how after a few warm days buds appear and how soon after that those buds uncurl into new, tiny, green leaves. I don’t know where else you can even replicate that color of green. It really is quite beautiful.

The forest floor is still covered with a blanket of dead leaves from the fall but here and there there are tufts of new green grass trying to poke through. Though I’ve not yet seen any wildflowers I know they’ll be here soon. This cycle of renewal that is spring is a reminder to me that I can find beauty in little things and that if I set out with the intention to find it I can and will. Even when the sting of tears is so close and my heart aches I can find you, Will. You are every tiny miracle I see on my daily walk and as we circle the sun again I know I can count on you to lead the way. I feel your hand in mine and that helps.

I love you, sweet boy. More than a bus full of spring miracles and the color of brand new leaves. More than pussy willows and and a chocolate lab named Finn.


Hockey Sticks in Heaven

April 10, 2018

My sweet boy,

I think it must be very busy up there. Since the news of the fatal team bus tragedy in Saskatchewan that took the lives of so many my heart has gone back to that dark and scary place in May 2011 when we experienced our own personal tragedy having lost you. There are no words for the magnitude of this loss and I am all consumed with thoughts of all those moms and dads and brothers and sisters and friends and extended family that are having to deal with the horrific loss of these innocent young men, their coaches and their bus driver. Of course, this event has triggered all of the intense feelings of those moments and days after losing you and my broken heart is with all of those parents who have joined the club no one ever chooses to join. Sadly, this club is just way too big.

Heaven has quite a hockey team and the 10 Humboldt Broncos that were called up this weekend is 10 more too many. I think that instead of your skis you might be wearing your hockey skates and have your hockey stick in hand. I imagine you’ve put fresh tape on your stick and created the best tape knob ever on the end. Tape… you always did like the tape… the usual black hockey stick tape (and the occasional coloured one) and the clear tape that would hold up your hockey socks (oh, and take paint off the walls when you used it to put up posters and tape mini sticks to your wall. Ya, that tape). There were rolls everywhere… on your dresser, the coffee table, in the car, in your hockey bag, at the back door, in the wagon on the front porch and occasionally in my purse. The growing tape ball in your hockey bag was pretty special. You know… the one that you would add to after every practice and game by peeling off the tape that held up your socks and adding it layer by layer to the ball of used tape. The last time I saw it, it was about the size of a small soccer ball… that was a lot of tape.

Ten cool boys have just arrived in heaven and I know you’ll find them, Will. Maybe you already have. They’ll be the boys in gold and green jerseys with Humboldt Broncos crests on the front and they’ll all be together. A team of boys who love hockey as much as you love skiing. Take them, Will, to the biggest and the best and the most beautiful hockey rink heaven could have. Show them around up there, and have some fun with them. Listen to their stories and show them where the boy angels sit on the left shoulders of their mom’s down here. Tell them how much their moms will like that. Show them how to let their loved ones know that they’re looking out for them and tell them how much they’ll be missed. Show them how to send signs to those down here who desperately need them and tell them to visit often. Laugh and play cards with them, Will, and break out the mini sticks too. When you’re tired and need a rest share high fives and fist bumps and tell them that they don’t need to do homework in heaven or ever have to go to the dentist.

Those beautiful boys known as The Humboldt Broncos…. the boys in the gold and green jerseys… will be missed so very much and loved forever and ever. Just like you.

Love you, Willy. Like a bus full of millions of hockey sticks. And tape. Oh, and don’t forget to leave your hockey stick out on your heavenly porch tonight. Your new hockey friends will love that.


The Lovers, The Dreamers, and Me

March 10, 2018

Hey Willy,

The other day as I was driving home a song that I hadn’t heard in quite some time played on the radio and in those three or so minutes it was ALL about you. It always amazes me how you can hear a song from a long time ago, even your childhood, and somehow, seemingly out of nowhere, you remember all the words. The song was Rainbow Connection (the Kenny Loggins version) and I can say with certainty that I am a lover and a dreamer for sure. As soon as I heard the banjo in the intro I was surprised at how many of the lyrics I could recall from memory. The power of music is really quite something.

Click on link below to have a listen…

Rainbow Connection

What was perhaps most beautiful was that I was transformed to a place where it was you and me and nothing else and every word of that song was so clear and believable; it moved me like it never had before. This version was not the original Kermit the Frog version but I sure do remember his skinny, little, green self sitting in the swamp singing out his little lungs in the Muppet Movie. Crazy little green frog with a larger than life personality…. hmmm… sounds a bit like you…

I’ve always believed in the magic of rainbows and as a little girl I would make secret wishes and dream of finding the pot of gold at the end every time I saw one. Though I’ve outgrown the pot of gold idea what makes me love them still is the possibility that you are there. And I believe you are. The rainbow connection is alive and well in my little corner of Kermit’s swamp and I wonder, Will, if it’s as clear for you looking at us through those colourful prisms of light. I love the rainbow coloured glasses that Mother Nature gives us so we can catch a glimpse of what awaits on the other side.

So, why days later am I writing to you about rainbows? Well, because I’m still humming that song. It’s stuck in my head and speaking to my heart. I think I won’t forget it ever.

Sweet boy, I miss you more than any dreamer could dream. And I love you more than a bus parked at the end of a million double rainbows. The lovers, the dreamers, and me could only ever get how much that really is.


January Blues and Flaring Little Nostrils

January 26, 2018

Dear Will,

January can be a downer for many people. It’s been proven. And I get it. But somedays can be bluer than blue… like today. I feel like there’s a dark blue cloud over my head and though I know you’re still sitting on my left shoulder I think this dark cloud might silence even you today. Try as I might I just can’t seem to shake it off. So what do I do when I have a day like this? What can I do? Well…. maybe I just need to sit with the blues. Maybe I’ll give myself permission to sit out today. Surely the world will be just fine with me watching from the sidelines.

I’ll drink tea and reminisce about happier days. I’ll close my eyes and time travel back to the days when our world was perfect and remember all the perfectly ordinary days when you kept me on my toes, kept me running, kept me busy and, on occasion, kept me “unkept”. Ah yes, those days. Those days when I was angry at something you did and I became unhinged. And you could tell because of the deep furrow in my forehead and how my eyebrows would knit together into that horrible, chunky line. This, of course was the precursor to me raising my voice and stomping my feet. AND THEN the way you’d cock your head ever so slightly and not say a word while staring at my eyebrows and then you’d do that thing with your nostrils…. that flaring in and out thing that would make me laugh. You just couldn’t stand to see me angry so you’d turn on your Willy nostrils and watch my frowns turn into smiles and my smiles turn into laughter. That was a brilliant strategy when I look back at it. (Not so sure it would have worked as smoothly as it did in your teen years…).

While I sit out today I’ll think about how wrapped up I could get in things that weren’t important or that I couldn’t control. I’ll think about how much time and energy I expended on stuff that really didn’t matter. And then I’ll remind myself that I did the best that I could on those given days and that all of it came from a place of love. I’ll look at today and remind myself of that very same message. I’ll tell myself that these blue days all come back to love. Because they just do. I’m sad today because I miss you and I’m down and out because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I’ll never be ready to say goodbye. And so I won’t. I can’t. I think I never will.

Then I’ll tell myself that no matter how blue my mood you are still the brightest light in my world, my North Star. Grief is a bigger monster than usual today and no matter how dark the blue cloud I will hold on tight to the good things and the good people that care about me. And I’ll hold on to everything that is you.

While I sit on the sidelines today I know and I trust that your little light (and the thoughts of your little flaring nostrils) will pull me out of this blue cloud and that it will dissipate. All I ask, Will, is that you sit with me today. In love. In trust. In hope. Flaring nostrils and all.

I miss you, sweet boy. And I love you so very much. Like a bus, only bigger.


Today, Tomorrow and Thank You

December 31, 2017

Dear Will,

Today as I let 2017 out the back door and welcome 2018 in the front door I want to thank you. I thank you for following me around this past year and for sitting on my left shoulder where the boy angels sit, constantly whispering in my ear, “Mom, I love you and you can do this.” You have never waned in your ability to assure me that indeed you are near and that the veil to the other side is thin. Through closed eyes and an open heart I have seen your boyish smile and heard your mischievous giggle when I have called your name. You have taken me by the hand and pulled me through my hardest days of this year and sat with me and offered me comfort when, no matter what, I just had to cry. I have come to know that there will always be moments when it is unbearable to live my days with you on the other side. But I have also learned that you’re right, somehow I can do this.

Your light is bright, Will, and I trust with my whole heart that you will continue to guide Dad and me and your brothers as we live here on this side. Tonight I will search for your star — the middle one on Orion’s Belt in the Orion constellation that shines the brightest in these winter months — and I will pause and say thank you and tell you that I love you more. I know you’ll be with me tonight as I say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018. And I know you’ll be with me tomorrow and the next day and the next and the next… on my left shoulder and in my heart where you’ll always be. When I lay my head on my pillow at the end of this night I will dream of the day when we meet again face to face and how beautiful that embrace will be. The very best part about that day will be that instead of being on my left shoulder you’ll be in my arms.

Love you, sweet boy. Bigger than a bus and all the way to your star on Orion’s Belt and back.


A Little School FULL of WillPower

Will playing basketball. Grade 7December 16, 2017

Dear Willy,

Yesterday morning Dad and I attended an assembly at Banded Peak School. They wanted to recognize us and your Foundation for funding the school with new basketball uniforms. I have to tell you, Will, that WillPower and the Power of Will are alive and well there and we just couldn’t have been more proud! The video of all the kids explaining what WillPower means to them and seeing all the basketball kids donning the new jerseys with WillPower printed on the back was emotionally moving. I will always remember it and suffice it to say it was hard to hold it together; to keep our tears from spilling wasn’t easy. Last week, one of your teachers, Mr C., asked if I would talk at the assembly about you and what you stood for…. how could the proudest Mom in the land say, “no” to that?

I wanted to share my words with you (even though I know you were there in the gym yesterday) but also wanted to record them somewhere where they could be read and remembered again by you and me and all who know and miss you. It is a beautiful thing to be reminded of just how big your little light is.

I love you, Willy. Like a bus full of new basketball uniforms and WillPower and big, proud mama love.


Here’s what I had to say about you…

Hello and thank you.

I am Will’s Mom and this is Will’s Dad, Murray. Most of you know me as Mrs. Bouchard, but this morning I am here wearing my proudest hat… and that is as Will’s Mom. Will’s Dad and I are honoured to be here this morning on behalf of Will, but also on behalf of the Will Bouchard Memorial Foundation.

This community and this school are important to us for many reasons. We have lived and raised our 3 boys in this little piece of paradise over the last 22 years. Our boys — Justin, Ben and Will grew up in this community and in this school and each of their faces can be seen in the school photos that line the hallways here.

We are here because of our youngest son, Will. Mr. Churchill was one of Will’s teachers and he asked me to share a little bit about who Will was and what he was about.

Will was in grade 7 when our “worst day ever” happened. We lost him in a tragic accident in May 2011 and from that day forward this community and this school rallied together to help us survive.

We are lucky to live where we do and to have had a village to help us cope with our loss. Honestly, it is unlike any community we have ever known. Will loved this community and this school. It was more than a place to learn… it was his play place too. Just like it is for all of you.

Will was an active boy — a boy who loved to run, to jump, to play and to hang upside down. His two favourite places here were in the gym and on the playground. It’s important to note that he also liked to hang out in the band room with Mrs Fisher and the bari sax. Will loved sports. He played every school sport, played hockey in both Bragg Creek and Springbank, and was a member of the freestyle ski team in Fernie.

Will couldn’t sit still and he was also pretty chatty. Sometimes his chattiness coupled with his inability to sit still got him into a bit of trouble in the classroom as you can imagine. …Perhaps some of you are like this too. All this aside, it is here in the gym where he was happiest and where his light shone the brightest. Not only because he loved phys ed and sports but also because he was a boy who loved his friends and his peers… and the gym was and is a place to gather… just like now.

After losing Will the school asked us if they could hang his sports jersey here in the gym as a remembrance but also as a reminder of what Will stood for. Of course, we were honoured beyond words and to this day I cannot even tell you what it means to me to look up at that #8 jersey. It was his favourite number and any time he could choose which number to wear it always had an 8 in it.

So, when you look at that jersey up thereand you see the word WillPower… what does it mean? Well… it means two things and Will encompassed both. WillPower means to persevere, to always keep trying and to not give up. That’s what the dictionary would say and when it came to school and, in particular, sports, Will demonstrated WillPower always.

But it also has another meaning. If you switch the words around you get The Power of Will. You see, Will had this special power, this intuition, for knowing when people were sad or unhappy and he made it his mission to undo that and to make people happy. He was like the sad police. He couldn’t stand it when we or his friends or his peers were sad.

The cool thing is that we all have this power. We all, each of you, have the power to make someone’s day better. We, you, all of us, can have the Power of Will. And each time you’re in this gym and you see that jersey, that #8, and that word, WillPower let that be a reminder to never give up, to try harder, to persevere, but also to make someone’s day better, to make a sad person happy, to turn a frown upside down, and to be kind. In every facet of your life, kindness is really all that matters.

To those of you who will wear these new basketball uniforms now and in the coming years please know how honoured we are on behalf of ours son and the Will Bouchard Memorial Foundation to have provided them to this school — to this place he loved, to his village.

On the back of each jersey is the word WillPower”. The word is not large or overbearing, but small and intentional. Your vice principal last year, Mrs. Magee, was instrumental in getting these new uniforms and she collaborated with us in their design. When she suggested that the word WillPower be included on them we were very touched.

When you have the opportunityto represent Banded Peak through a school sport we hope that WillPower will guide your actions and the way you play and treat others. And here at school when you’re in the gym with your class and you see Wills jersey up there know he’s watching and cheering you on and in so doing is reminding you that you too have the power to make everyone around you a better person. Will was all about that. And that makes us very proud.

We miss Will beyond words. We always will.

All we ask, all anyone could ever ask is that you carry your own WillPower and the Power of Will that you all possess in your hearts and that you strive every day to make others happy. Be kind. Have fun. Be your best self.

He would love that more than anything.

Thank you.

Bounce Bounce Bounce

My Sweet Will

November 12, 2017



Dear Will,


In the still of this Sunday morning I wake to the beauty of this day – it is quiet as I lie here in my bed… the sun is shining, Finn is sleeping at the foot of the bed and my mind is busy making a list of all the stuff that I have intentions of tackling today. And yet, all this aside, my heart yearns for the little voice that is you saying “Mom, please get up. I’ve got people to see and places to go. And bacon would be so awesome this morning!”


I wish I could reply, “Hold on, sweet guy. Relax. It’s 7:20 am and we’ve plenty of time.” I remind myself that whatever I do (or don’t do) today that you are with me every step of the way, every minute of every day. Instead of rushing to get up and get going with my list I succumb to days gone by and I get lost in memories of Sunday mornings when you were at my bedside bugging me to get up. When the tears become too much and I feel like I’m on the slippery slope to not getting out of bed at all, I decide to get up and make myself a big cup of tea. Minutes later, I’m at the kitchen table writing you this letter.


There is a bird in the tree outside my big kitchen window and he seems intent on garnering my attention. A little guy, probably a chickadee, who is bouncing from branch to branch… and I just know it’s you. I stare at him for a few moments until he flitters away. A few minutes later he returns. More bounce bounce bounce.   He stops and looks at me. I imagine he is saying, “I saw you crying in your bed, Mom. Think about the good days and all the happy times. Remember me when I made you smile and we laughed together. If you believe that I am truly with you in this moment, I know I can make you smile.” What happens next? I’m smiling at that bouncing little bird.


He flies away again… and a few minutes later he returns. Bounce bounce bounce. It seems he has more to say. “Just look at me out here on this tree. I’m free as a bird and never far away. I will always be here and when you need me just call my name. I promise I will hear you because I miss you too, Mom.” Ok, I’m still smiling, but I can feel the tears coming again. He continues, “Our journey together will never end, Mom, because we’re a forever thing. I visit you often because I miss you, too, but this jumping from branch to branch thing is a whole lot of fun and you’d have never allowed me to climb this high.” He’s right. The only way he’d have climbed that high is if I wasn’t home.


Gosh, I needed that little bird today. More than all the tea in China. Thanks, sweet Will, for your visit and for your message. It means the world to me.


Love you, sweet boy. More than a bus, little bouncing chickadees and all the tea in China.



A Four Humped Camel Called October 

                      Will’s Happy Heavenly Birthday Balloons (October 14, 2017)

October 17, 2017

Dear Willy,

October.  Sigh.

Though fall is my favourite time of the year, this year the month of October is like a camel with too many humps — four to be exact. First was our bike ride into Bragg Creek for icecream (our little Ride For Will), then came Thanksgiving, followed by your birthday, and in a couple of weeks, Halloween.

The two biggest humps were the ones in the middle – Thanksgiving weekend and then your birthday. These two always feel a bit like climbing a mountain (clarification… what I think it would feel like). There is a looming feeling in the days leading up to them and I feel a little more anxious as each of them draws closer. The most difficult part of those days is getting out of bed. I lay still and remember what it was like when you were here and wish with all of my being that you still were. I think about all the things we’ve missed out on, the stuff we didn’t get to do. I wonder what you’d look like and what your voice would sound like. I sit with these thoughts for a while and inevitably succumb to my tears whilst giving myself permission to feel sad and then with my head down and a tear-stained face I get up and I get going. It’s not always pretty and its not easy but I forge on finding ways to honour you throughout these days . Then, at the end of each of these difficult days, I sigh, still surprised that I make it through year after year after year. Somehow I do. And somehow in these days I find a smile, I find joy and I find gratitude. On October 14th, 1998 (this year your nineteenth journey around the sun) we were blessed to bring you into this world and call you our son. This day will forever be one of my life’s best and though now one of the saddest it will always be a bittersweet celebration. .

The next hump is Halloween and for me I am happy to report that this hump is growing smaller. Oh boy, I think back to how much you loved Halloween (aka “I love candy” day) and how much you disliked visiting the dentist. You never really understood how bad those tootsie rolls were on your teeth… or maybe you did and they were just too good to give up? I have to come clean, Willy, I still love them, too. (Insert a wink).

                           Enjoying icecream after our little  Ride For Will (Oct 8/17)

For a long time I didn’t think I’d ever smile again; hearing myself laugh or feel joy seemed an impossibility. In the months after losing you, I couldn’t find the strength to leave our home. And now, here I am. I can do this. What got me here? Why can I do it now? Well, I do know the answer now. There are two actually. One is time. And the other is you. With time comes clarity and reflection and with clarity and reflection comes the question I ask more than any other, “What would Will want me to do?” Not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself that very question at least once. You, sweet one, are my reason and my strength for everything. Oh, and there’s these two other boys, too… the other two that call me Mom. And Dad. And our big, brown dog. I am surrounded with boy love! And I am grateful for all of you.

The boy love in my world is big, Will. And I love you more than all the boy love put together on a four humped camel with a big bus full of tootsie rolls on the side. You see, it’s not even possible to love someone more than that. But I do…. times a million.

Miss you, Little Blue.


Where the Rainforest Meets the Sea

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dear Will,

As a citizen of this beautiful country and the place I am proud and happy to call home I have this desire to plant my feet on the two outermost coasts of Canada — one the furthest point east on PEI and the other the furthest point west on Vancouver Island. And so, Will, here I am crossing the furthest place west off of my bucket list. Dad and I and Finn travelled by car and ferry to the west side of Vancouver Island, to a place “where the rainforest meets the sea” in Super Natural British Columbia. Those two slogans have captured the very essence of where we were perfectly.

We spent a couple of days on Mackenzie Beach near the bustling little town of Tofino, not surprisingly loving and appreciating all the fresh seafood and at the same time surprised at how abundant the surf culture is there. It’s such a remote area where there is a surf shop or two or three and a fish and chip shack on every corner. I’m not naive enough to have thought there would be no surfing… after all it is the big wave side of the island, but holy cow, Will… The. Water. Is. Freezing! All. The. Time! I crossed off my bucket list a walk on Long Beach where we dipped our toes in the cold Pacific Ocean. This beach known by storm watchers in the winter and surfers the rest of the year is the furthest one can go before the Pacific Ocean eats up land. As I stood there I was reminded of two things. One, the next landform is Japan, thousands of miles away, and two — that you are pretty darn small when you stand beside the ocean where the next piece of land is Japan.

Mother Nature is definitely the boss here and sometimes I think we all to need to be reminded of the respect she commands. It was cool (ok, cold) and it had rained (heavily at times) but we managed also to find a window here and there where she gave us a beautiful blue sky and some sunshine. That coast line is known for its raw beauty, for the storms that roll in off the Pacific and for the array of clothing one must own if you want to spend some time there. Rubber boots and a warm, rain jacket are a definite must in that part of Canada and if you’re a surfer… well, you’ll need a wet/dry suit made of thick black rubber to cover every part of your body other than your eyeballs and your nostrils.

We spent 9 days, much of it, rolling along the highways in our vehicle, listening to music and a few downloaded podcasts, stopping to pick up coffees (and timbits for Finn) at the no shortage of Tim Horton’s along the way. We stopped in Kelowna and spent some time with your Uncle Jim, and in the Shuswap, too, to see your Auntie Mindie rounding out the new sights with familiar ones where we made many memories with you over the years. So many happy times we had together, Will. Those memories still bring tears as they were just the very best of times.

Our adventure to the west coast is behind us now and as we head east along the TransCanada nearing our home in Redwood Meadows I’m also reminded that there is no place like home. The memories that abound there in our home and in our community will always make the little place we call our home so very special. It was an awesome week away and all along the way I felt you sitting happy and tall on my left shoulder (where I’m told the boy angels sit). I love that wherever I go you come along. In my heart and on my left shoulder.

I love you, sweet boy. Like a bus on a long beach on the furthest place west where the rainforest meets the sea in the country we proudly get to call our home. And then like that same bus parked in our driveway in Redwood Meadows where the basketball net meets the cul-de-sac.


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.