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.

And a New Chapter Begins…


Our wagon of rocks has a new home

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Dear Will,

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



Will’s Mountain Bike Trail at Fernie Alpine Resort


Butterfly Love

June 13, 2018



Dear Sweet Will,


If there was ever a day that I needed to see one of those little blue butterflies it was today. And I have to tell you that the little yellow one dancing in it’s path was the icing on the proverbial cake. You see, my sweet boy, it meant to me that maybe you have seen my friend Dina up there where the sky is always blue and no one gets cancer. She passed a week and a bit ago after a lengthy battle with cancer – so unfair at only 53 years of age.


On one of my last visits with her we talked about you. Actually, your name would frequently come up. For as long as I knew Dina she’d ask about you and your brothers; so genuinely interested in all of you. She was at peace with dying and was always more concerned about those she’d leave behind down here. We would talk about how she would see you and how she would make sure you were brushing your teeth and wearing clean socks. She told me she was going to look out for you.



img_0742-1I’m sure you’d remember her when you saw her and when you did you’d notice that her heart was larger than most everyone’s. She was a beautiful woman who made the world down here a better, kinder place. She was a super cool lady and I know you’ll love spending time with her. She’ll make you laugh, Will. And she’ll buy you ice cream and new shoes. She’ll want to take you to the rainbow bridge to show you her beloved dogs – Max and Sammy. She loved those doggies and I think she’ll be spending a lot of time throwing balls and sticks. Perhaps, you could help her with that.   Sticks and balls… boys and dogs… yup, it’s not rocket science. ..


Thank you for fluttering along beside me on my doggie walk today, Will. I love when you do that. And thanks for inviting Dina along with you. Through fresh tears for my friend and my never ending tears for you my heart did smile and dance a little.


Come back soon, sweet boy. You know where to find me and I’m always looking for you.


Love you, Willy. Like a bus full of little blue butterflies x a million. And the yellow ones are pretty adorable, too.




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.