Those Little Gingerbread Boys

December 23, 2020

My dearest Will,

It seems rather fitting that yesterday, on the 22nd day of the month I decorated the gingerbread boys I somewhat reluctantly baked last week.  Each year since your passing the little gingerbread boys have become a tradition that I set aside time for and that I have always looked forward to. This year with COVID and how it has changed our world I stumbled, wondering at times if it would be worth it, wondering who would eat them all (other than us!), wondering if anyone would really even notice that the “boys” didn’t make it into their little holiday bags ready to be handed out to friends and family as in years past because we’re isolating and not gathering socially due to the pandemic.  And then it hit me – ultimately, it would matter to me and it would matter because of you. It would matter because it has become a tradition born from your passing and not even a world pandemic would stand in the way of those little gingerbread boys and what they mean to me.

I realized yesterday how much I enjoy the ritual and learned that it really wasn’t any trouble at all, but rather a little labour of holiday love in honor of you. I buried myself at the kitchen table with Christmas carols and warm tea, with little gingerbread boys and piped frosting and little white candy hearts. I thought about our Christmases together and though my mind got stuck on how 12 Christmases just weren’t enough I managed to flip the bitter to sweet and remembered how much fun we packed into the Christmases we did have together.

It is easy to complain about the busy-ness of the season but for me the days leading up to Christmas were always the best and the busier we were, it seemed the happier we were. The magic would build day by day, even when the magic of Santa became the magic of giving for all of us. After your angel date we adopted some new Christmas traditions because we knew Christmas would never be the same. To keep on as we did would magnify the empty chair, the empty stocking and the achingly absent “To Will, From Us” gifts under the tree.

Instead we chose to make you the star, the angel, the toque on top of our tree. We made you our morning Santa with socks and pajamas from you to all of us Christmas morning. We still hang your stocking on the mantle amidst all of ours but on Christmas morning it becomes the anchor upon which our Christmas dinner centerpiece sits. We carefully place it in the middle of our dining room table where we light the sparkliest of candles. The last present under the tree is a jigsaw puzzle or a game from you to us – a promised activity that we enjoy doing together. And then there are the coveted gingerbread boys. The boys I am glad I did not leave out this year. Now that they are decorated the world feels a bit right again, even in this crazy and strange world of unknowns and uncomfortable concerns about the coronavirus. Admittedly, I didn’t bake as many this year knowing that I’d eat far too many if they were hanging around the kitchen. There is nothing right about one small family having to eat 10 or so dozen of those little boys… they are small, but…

I enjoyed our afternoon, Will. Needless to say, I miss you more than ever — more than I did yesterday and the day before and the day before that. I am overjoyed that the little gingerbread boys prevailed and that we have them to enjoy over the holidays. Yesterday I discovered that without them it just wouldn’t feel like Christmas. The tags I included with the little boys in every holiday cookie bag over the years are printed and in the tin — an undeniable reminder that…

“Before they can be men, they must be boys.”

And so this is Christmas. And on this side your little light still shines as bright as ever.  I’m told some stars are like that, Willy. In my heart of hearts I know your spirit is with us today and yesterday and tomorrow and on Christmas and everyday. We carry you with us in all that we do.  Your little light is in each of those little gingerbread boys, a reminder that the little boy / the child is alive and well in all of us, if we just believe. 

I love you, my sweet boy. More than a bus and more than all the little gingerbread boys and men and sugar cookies and milk in Santa’s big belly on Christmas eve.

Love Momxo xo xo xo

The handsewn gingerbread boy that Will made with his tiny hands in grade 1
remains a Christmas treasure.

Shorts For You, A Cozy Sweater For Me, and a Pocket Full of Rocks for Us

September 30, 2020

My sweet boy,

Fall has arrived. It surprises me every year how the first, tiny hints of yellow leaves in late August turn into a splendor of yellow in just a few short weeks. How the mornings go from warm, doors-wide-open and coffee outside on the deck to cool, brisk mornings, cozy sweaters and coffee in front of the fireplace. Aahhh… but I do love this transition. And so, this week I traded my shorts and sleeveless tops for cozy sweaters and warm socks all the while knowing that you’re still wearing shorts up there.

I am sitting this early, fall morning in front of the fireplace with a big cup of coffee, our big brown dog at my feet reminiscing over memories of you and your brothers and how you guys would hold onto summer for as long as you could. Succumbing to fall didn’t happen until it snowed, it seemed. I smile remembering how as September waned and the mornings turned cool you and your brothers would defy wearing pants – always deferring to shorts. Some of those mornings were darn cold. Most days the grass would be white with frost as you’d bolt out the front door to catch the school bus. Hoodies were the thing, of course, and at least you guys would put those on. I remember watching from the front window as you waited for the bus; your skinny, spindly legs shaking, your hands tucked in the front pocket of your hoodie, shoulders up to your ears, looking like a turtle with your overstuffed backpack slung on your back. I remember suggesting many a morning that wearing pants might be a good option, but not until water puddles turned to ice and stayed frozen would you and your brothers succumb to that mom tip (and for what its worth, a natural consequence was always a better convincing tool in the ‘ole parenting handbook ). Packing away those summer shorts was a sad day in our house. Stretching out summer for as long as possible was the norm and looking back on my own childhood it was the very same.

When you’d return home from school your backpack was even more stuffed because the hoodie that kept you from freezing in the morning was now sort of, somewhat, portions of it anyway, tucked into your backpack. I recall the thunk of your backpack hitting the floor at the front door because of the weight of all it held… a textbook or two, your agenda, your lunchbox, a gym strip (if you hadn’t forgot it), your pencil box and homework (if you hadn’t forgot it), your iPod and some miscellaneous odds and ends… remember the yo-yo stage and the coveted binder of Pokémon cards and hockey cards? I smile recalling how you’d barely set foot inside the door to shed your pack and yell, “Mom, I’m home!” only to turn around and run back out the door because playing outside was the best part of your day. Gosh, I loved that so much.

And, then there were all the pockets full of rocks. I remember, (most times with an eye roll) how I’d routinely check all your pockets before I put a load of laundry into the washing machine. There is something unnerving about hearing rocks roll around in the washer… and there were many that went undetected… which is why I had to check your pockets. A pocket full of rocks seemed to be a regular occurrence in our family… your brothers, too, loved rocks and it is no secret that I love them too. I frequently return with a rock or two and sometimes a pocket full (I take back all the eye roll). I guess the apples didn’t fall far from the proverbial tree.

You and your pals, Brent and Jordan

I think loving the fall season in all it’s splendor might be something one acquires a love for as one gets older. It is certainly true for me. Saying goodbye to summer seems a bit easier now as the furnace kicks in. So, hello fall, I’m ready for you. Cozy sweater and all. In a bit, I’ll head out for a walk with Finn and undoubtedly I’ll return with a rock or two or a pocket full. I’m pretty sure, Willy, that you’ll help me find the best ones.

I love you, sweet one. More than a bus and more than a cozy sweater for me, shorts for you and a pocket full of rocks for us.


You and me finding rocks in Fernie.

When Missing You is Forever

May 10, 2020


My dear, sweet boy,

I miss you.

But it’s so much more than that.

I’m not sure there are words to even describe what missing you forever feels like. There is a quote that I frequently refer to that I think sums it up best…

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


… Yup, “empty” feels like the right word. But again, it’s so much more than that.


And, it’s May. The hardest month of the year. Every day a sad reminder of the day our world changed forever. I wonder every May if your angel date won’t sting so much, but almost nine years later, the sting still stings.


And, today is Mother’s Day. You and Justin and Ben are the best part of me and I am missing all of you.

The social distancing restrictions due to COVID-19 have not allowed me to see your brothers but, thankfully, that is a “just for now” thing. I will see them soon, but you, Will, are the one I will miss forever. Today I think of my own Mom, your Nana, and how much she means to me — how in this world she is the one person I’ve known the longest (ahem, like my whole life!) and whom I have always been able to count on in good times and in bad. I hope you know that every minute of your 12 ½ years I loved you more than the minute before and that all these days later my big love for you just gets bigger.



My heart smiles recalling all the beautiful, and sometimes funny, gifts and kind gestures that you and your brothers and Dad did to make Mother’s Day extra special for me. I am lucky to have had all of what you boys could muster when what mattered the most was that we were together. Believe me, Will, I have tucked every special memory and every cold piece of toast into my heart. I have kept every homemade card and gift you boys ever made at school and that big box of love is one of my most treasured possessions. Today I will spend my day touching and reading every one of them remembering the tiny and not-so-tiny hands that created them.


I will pause and remember the sound of your infectious giggle and call to mind how you’d sit at the kitchen table with that big tub of Crayola markers and crayons and construction paper and pipe cleaners and stickers and tape. Oh, how you loved tape. With a juice box and a bowl of fishy crackers at your side.

My sweet Will, I miss you so very much. I miss all the yesterdays, I miss you today and I will miss you for all the tomorrows.

And I love you. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, forever… Like a bus from here to forever and then a whole bunch more.




One Love

March 28, 2020



Dear Willy,


It’s crazy down here. And, as you look down on our world I wonder what you must be thinking? It’s hard to even believe that we are where we are. But, my sweet boy, we are. I cannot help but appreciate what heaven must be like right now… where eternal love and beauty are uninterrupted and where there is no wrong, no hurt and no pain. A place where there are no coronaviruses… and perhaps the only place right now where there is no COVID-19!


Down here we are praying for the safety of ALL who are on the front line of this crisis – all the healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, grocers, pharmacists, truck drivers… all who are providing essential needs to where we can access them… Our world needs big love right now and the best way to love this world is to heed the advice of the scientists and medical professionals and stay home. And so, we are hunkering down at home. Dad and I are committed to keeping our small bubble safe, as are your brothers in their own little bubbles. And Finn, well, I think he’s never been happier. He’s never left at home alone!


Many times throughout the day I find myself looking up to the sky for answers and for hope. I look up there because that is where you are and, well, that other big guy, too… the guy I refer to as God. I trust that he’s got this and that you are helping him share the light and the hope and the love. Send an extra big helping to those on the front line and those fighting for their lives because right now they need it most.


I believe that at some point the world will be able to return to some semblance of what we once called normal but, too, I hope that we are all better people for it. I hope that our world can be kinder and more grateful and that we can celebrate every day for the blessed ordinariness of the little things that too many take for granted. Our time here is finite and we can all make a difference. The world needs to unite in this crisis. We are not an “us and them” but one big ole world who needs lots of big ole one love.


I’ve unpacked the “ONE LOVE” canvas that you painted when you were 11 years old and I think I will never pack it away again. It needs to be hung in our home where we can love it everyday, not only because your little hands created it, but also because it is a message that we need to practice everyday.


I miss you, little blue. And I love you. More than a bus and bigger than our big ole hurting world right now.


Keep on shining your little light, Willy. Our world needs it so much.







How Love Works

January 31, 2020


Dear Will,

Boy, oh boy.  Turning the calendar to not only a new month, and to not only a new year but to a new decade sure magnifies how long it’s been since my worst day ever and how much I miss you still.  I know I will miss you forever, sweet boy… that is just how love works.  The minute to minute, moment to moment, day to day; the ebb and flow of every sunrise and every sunset from days to weeks to months and years just seems like too much to process at times. It still surprises me that a minute can feel like forever and forever can feel like a minute. I guess that, too, is how love works.

I remember years ago (it doesn’t feel good to even say that) I used to count the days since your passing and when those days went from the hundreds into the thousands I stopped.  I had to stop.  Instead, I focused on all the precious moments and memories. It feels better to recount all the lovely treasured moments and memories instead of counting the days without you.  Perspective.  Whoa.  It can sure change things. Again, staying in the beautiful moments is how love works.

Perspective is an interesting thing.  It can be profound to say the least. One of my biggest enlightenments and something that has been perhaps the most helpful since your passing was when the boys offered their perspective on grief.  They said, “Mom, Dad, instead of trying to figure out how to live without Will, how about figuring out how to live for him.”  Two words… “FOR Will” instead of “WITHOUT Will”.   What a profound difference it makes.  Those words and that message changed things in such a profound and healthy way. Love is a complicated thing but living in the positive feels so much better than living in the negative. It doesn’t change that you’re still not here, but it sure changes how I choose to live and honour you every minute, moment, day, week, month and year. That, my sweet boy, is also how love works.

I read recently a post that a grieving mom made after losing her young son – a boy just a little older than you – and her message resonated so deeply within me. She talked about perspective… how the little things in life outweigh the big things.  She said:

“You arrive one day at a place and look back on your life and realize that the little things in your life, weren’t so little after all.  They were big things. Those random moments spent talking while you make supper or swinging on the back porch in the late afternoon, talking while you went down to pick up the mail, those “little” conversations after school, those “little” messes, those “little” texts, those “little” goodnights shouted across the hall…. those are not so little to someone who is missing the person whose time on this earth was…. too little.

Losing someone you love instills great perspective when you allow it to.  Appreciate the “little” moments with your loved ones, because one day, you may find those moments were not so little after all.”

Perspective IS everything. Love works in such magical ways if your heart is open. Good things will come if you let love in. The reason I miss you so much, Will, is because I loved you so deeply. Grief is love upside down and yet still it all comes back to love.

You continue to be my compass, Will.  My barometer for all things good and pure. You are the light in my darkest days, the hand I hold when I’m scared.  To smile and cry in the same breath is love. It’s you. It’s “for” instead of “without”, it’s a whole lot of little things instead of a handful of big things, it’s being better instead of bitter.

I love you, sweet Will. I always did and I always will.  More than and bigger than a million little buses.  You and I both know that’s how love works.



My Blue Crayon

December 5, 2019

My Sweet Will,


My favourite color for as long as I can remember.

The color of your eyes and yes, the color of the sky on a beautiful sun-kissed day.

You are undeniably our little Mr Blue Sky but sometimes blue is used to describe feelings of sadness and these December days are quite blue for me, Willy. It’s not surprising at this time of year to harbour these feelings — we know this well, for every book on grief, every counsellor we spoke to and every parent walking with us on this journey will attest that that is true. Of course, it is. Missing a loved one over the holidays can certainly conjure up a dark blue cloud of sad that can sometimes, for some, make December unbearable.

For me, December feels like a magnifying glass pointed at the empty chair. Your absence is palpable, Will … sometimes it screams at me and try as I do to search for the silver lining sometimes there are days when I just have to succumb to these blue feelings and I retreat to a place within. I go quietly to that sacred place in my heart where the very best memories live, where you live and where I feel closest to you. I pray to God to help me through the darkness and ask him to watch over me as I sit there for a bit. Long enough to get lost in all those perfectly ordinary days that we shared but not too long that I would forget how to pull myself up. You know this place well, Willy… it’s where we learned to dance between what was and what is. My heart reminds me that grief and sadness are the price of love and that I am feeling blue because I love you and I miss you.

Sure, the hustle and bustle of December is here and…

I’ve yet to pull out the Christmas boxes, but I will.

I’ve yet to put up the tree, but I will.

I’ll bake little gingerbread boys, like I always do.

I’ll play Christmas music and sing out loud, like I always do.

I’ve yet to make my shopping list and venture out to the shops, but I will.

I’ll wrap gifts and plan our Christmas dinner, like I always do.

And, all the while I will miss you every second of every minute. Like I always do.

But, for today and maybe even tomorrow I will dance with you and not worry about the list. When it feels right I’ll be ready to return to the hustle and bustle of December feeling recharged and ready to go. You will urge me to go, reminding me that it is what you’d want me to do. With your gentle nudge I will get busy and “bring on” Christmas like we always do. I will trust that everything will get done to the best of my ability and that what will be this December, will be exactly what it should be. I will be present for those that are my world — Dad and Ben and Justin and Amy and Finn — knowing that together is the best place to be and knowing also that you’ll be smack dab in the middle of all of it. My beautiful family and my friends that feel like family will be close in my thoughts and I will let them all know how grateful I am for their love, their continued support and for their friendship. They really are the best gifts.

You are my blue crayon, Will, and I love you more than a blue sky day and a bus full of blue crayons.


A Gold Dipped Yellow Leaf

September 16, 2019

Dear sweet Will,

Today I watched the first yellow leaf fall from your tree. It reminded me of a tear as it fell to the ground and in those few seconds I did wipe a tear as it rolled down my cheek. Sometimes the unexpected can just get me like that. It was also a stark reminder of the passage of time… another season, another fall since you passed to the other side. I ponder how that can be possible when it feels both so long ago and like yesterday at the same time. That golden yellow leaf is also a reminder of the many signs of you that seem to be everywhere – all of them beautiful in their abundance and all of them I am ever grateful to be witness of. They are a daily reminder that you are indeed near and that you continue to watch over us. It really is possible in the moments of each passing day, week, month, season and year to see little signs of you in all kinds of places and in so many different ways. Little blue butterflies, heart shaped rocks, a snowflake, a brand new leaf, rainbows, tiny-fluffy- speckled feathers, a chattering squirrel or cawing crow and sometimes the magical, indescribable way Finn seems to look through me instead of at me. I know all of these are somehow you. I often reply to these abundant signs saying out loud, “Hey Willy, I see you, I hear you, I feel you.” I have had many conversations with these signs of you believing and hoping that you can see me, hear me and feel me, too.

The painful part is that I miss you as you were. So many things I miss… I miss watching you grow, seeing you run and jump. I miss hearing your giggle and the sound of your voice. I miss watching you make cinnamon toast in the morning and how you’d pour milk into your bowl of honey nut Cheerios. Frequently there’d be more milk on the counter than in your bowl but you insisted that you could do it and if I made a fuss about how that was wasteful you’d look at me and without saying a word you’d lick it right off the counter just to prove a point. I know I didn’t miss that back then but I’d give anything for a bowl of spilled milk now. I miss watching you swing your backpack over your shoulder and how sometimes it was so jam packed that you looked like a turtle carrying its shell. I long for the morning chaos that was part of every school day… how you’d rush to eat breakfast and brush your teeth before you’d stuff your backpack with all you needed for the day and then how you’d saunter out the door (and sometimes run like mad) to catch the bus to school. I miss our conversations about what mattered most to you on each given day. I miss watching how you loved being with your buddies and how much you loved pushing your brothers’ buttons and wrestling and cuddling with Dad. I miss your “Hi Mom” when I’d see you in the hallways at school and your public hugs when you just knew it meant more to me than to you. I miss watching you work so hard to get through your homework after school because every extra minute was golden when you were playing with your friends and / or jumping on the trampoline before dinner. I miss the way you would stall every bedtime routine and then how you’d look forward to our time to read together before bed. I miss hearing you say, “goodnight mom” and how you’d tell me you loved me like a bus. I miss our bedtime hugs and watching you as you slept when I’d enter your room one more time before it was my turn to crawl into my bed down the hall. I know these times were fleeting in the big picture but like every parent I always believed that these little nuances – these routines of everyday life – would morph into different age appropriate routines as you grew older. Never did I ever believe that it would end so tragically and so quickly. When I look back I am reminded of how fleeting it really was and how precious those moments really were. What a gift an ordinary day was back then and how lucky I am to be able to recall so many. I am especially grateful to have had that perspective. I will hold onto each and every one of them for all of my days on earth.

And Will, when the next golden leaf flutters from your tree to the ground I will choose to look at it as you waving to me instead of feeling it as my tears. I will watch closely so I don’t miss it and as fall inevitably makes its grand entrance I will see you wave many, many times as the leaves from your thriving little tree cover the ground. Watch me, Will, as I will be waving back at you.

I miss all of you, sweet boy, and I love you beyond words. Like a bus. A big, yellow bus full of beautiful gold dipped, yellow leaves.


Rolling Down the Highway

April 28, 2019

Dear Will,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Christmas. Sigh…

December 22, 2018

Dear sweet boy,

In these final, few days before Christmas I am stopping to pause; to give myself permission to escape this busy bubble of hustle and bustle so I can spend a day uninterrupted with you. As the busy season unfolds I struggle more with losing you than I normally do. Every December feels like this. Perhaps it is because there is such a strong focus on family and for us, well, it is out of order and interrupted. We carry on as best as we can because we know you’d want us to spend Christmas doing and being and loving as we always did. And so we do. For you. And because of you.

Last night was a restless one for me. I tossed and turned, waking frequently with thoughts of you and Christmases past. Memories that would shake me awake followed by a sense of urgency to want to close my eyes and try to lull myself back to those very precious times. It was a bittersweet dance and after hours of going back and forth I decided that writing a letter to you while I sat in the early morning darkness amidst the lights on our Christmas tree would be time well spent. I always do feel better after a conversation with you.

As I sipped my hot tea I thought about the magic of Christmas and how you, being the youngest of the three boys, were the one who kept the Santa magic alive for all of us for many years. I laughed recalling some of the tactics Justin and Ben would use to keep you believing that without a doubt there really was a white bearded, chubby guy in a red suit that made and brought presents, but only if you were on the good kid list. They had explanations for every question and played along not wanting to ruin it for you (… probably because I threatened them and I’m quite sure the thought of no Santa gifts was a pretty strong deterrent). I did hear recently of a funny albeit brilliant story of a mom who told her two boys that the smoke alarms in the house were Santa cams and that when the green light was on (which, of course, is always on) it meant that Santa was watching. Everyday. All year long. I wonder how long that worked? Your brothers weren’t quite that menacing.

Mostly, Will, I remembered how much fun we had every Christmas and how important it was for all of us to be together. Never did I ever imagine that we’d have a Christmas without you and that “never” actually meant forever. The pain of losing a child is unimaginable and I believe wholeheartedly that the human spirit can only go to that kind of pain if it has no choice but to. Seven years into our grief journey I feel like we have come to a place now that we can find moments of joy again but it is because we have surrounded our Christmas with memories of you. You are our Santa and the angel atop of our tree. The last gift under the tree is always a jigsaw puzzle to us from you. You are the candle light on our Christmas table and as we toast the season and each other we toast you as well. I do feel your presence and know with my whole heart that you are with us and that you always will be.

This summer I photographed some of your journal writings from your grade 7 school year. Indubitably what we didn’t know then was that Christmas 2010 was your last Christmas with us on earth. I scrolled through my photos and found what you’d written about Christmas that year.

I’ve read and re-read your words not only for what you said but loving how your writing looked and how I remembered it to be. Your message reflects the true essence of Christmas. Simple and thoughtful. It really is not so much about the receiving part and so much more about the giving. Just like you wrote. That you felt like that at 12 years old makes me a proud mom.

Our tree this year is full of our ski passes as usual and new this year I filled it with fuzzy, soft snowballs. They remind me so much of you. And your brothers, too. I hope it makes you smile as you look down on it. Yup, your Santa hat is still at the top as our angel.

As the morning dawns I think about my list… all the things I need to do… the last minute shopping, the wrapping, the cleaning. And then I looked at your face on your last Fernie ski pass and decided to go make myself another cup of tea. I grabbed a blanket and returned to where I last sat in front of our tree. There is no rush. It will all get done. It always does. More important, today is about you and me.

I miss you so much, sweet Will. More than words can describe.

And, I love you. Like a bus. Full of Christmas love, snowballs, candlelight, childhood memories and everything that is you at Christmas. Sigh…


Happy Heavenly Twenty

Will B&W

Almost a teenager…

Sunday, October 14, 2018




Happy Birthday, my sweet boy,


This week began with a throwback to a sunny afternoon 20 years ago when I welcomed you into my arms and you officially became a member of our little family. It was and will always be one of the very best days of my life. It’s terribly sad for me to think that today you would be 20 years old and even more sad that I had only 12 birthdays to plan and celebrate with you here. You have to know, however, that we’ve never missed a year celebrating your birthday, Willy. Ribs, an angel food cake and cinnamon buns were your favourite and so we continue with the same birthday menu year after year after year.

I’ve been thinking all week about your birthday and how we were robbed of so much when you passed. A boy who never got to be 13. A boy who never got to be a teenager. A boy turned man who would now be 20. Eight birthdays where instead of lighting candles on your cake for you to make a wish and blow out we instead light a white pillar candle that sits in the middle of our dinner table. This candle lights our way so to speak and we don’t put it out until well after our dinner for you. Instead we make our own wish and I’m pretty sure that we all make the same one — a collective, “I wish you were here.”


Today I will put all my energy into celebrating one of my happiest of days. I will remember your welcome into the world and the 12 short, but full to the brim, years we shared.   I will remember your sticky fingers while eating your birthday ribs and I’ll smile at how you used to squish/press/roll your slice of angel food cake into a small ball of doughy goodness. I will remember how at age 10 you learned how to make the gooey-ist bread-maker cinnamon buns in our family. I will remember your smile and your laugh and how much you loved being with us. And I will remember how much we loved celebrating you and how much we miss you. We will never stop celebrating you, Will. You will always be a part of us and every October 14 will always be a special day.


Love you, sweet one. Bigger than a bus full of birthday ribs and angel food cake squished into a million tiny cake balls and more than a Willy batch of the best cinnamon buns in the land.






Will and his friend, Cole, who celebrated birthdays together because they were only 2 days apart.