Hood River and Bittersweets

 

Me and Dad, and Jim and Angie

Me and Dad, and Jim and Angie

Sunday, July 13, 2014

 

Dear Willy,

 

Last night Dad and I and Uncle Jim and Angie arrived in Hood River, Oregon to begin the part of our vacation that is so full of reminders of your last one with us. The sun was setting as we meandered along the I-84 following the flow of vehicles on the twisting and turning freeway that hugs the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. The evening sky was an incredible mix of orange and pink and the steep gorge landscape provided a dark silhouette that enhanced the beauty tenfold. I was lost in the beauty of the magnificent sky knowing that our long drive would soon be done when Mt. Hood majestically appeared in front of us. Earlier in our drive along the Washington interstate the peaks of Mt Rainier and Mt Adams were faintly visible in the distance and because they were distant they reminded me of an Ansel Adams photo where the peaks become less and less visible as they are further and further away. It seems nothing can prepare me for the in-your-face beauty and immediate flood of memories of what you described as the “funnest” place on earth each time I see Mt Hood stretch up to the sky. I remember vividly that same feeling when we drove to Hood River last summer though the sting didn’t stay as long.  While planning our summer vacation I wondered if seeing Mt Hood again would conjure up tears and the same feelings…. and what I can say now is that it still did indeed take my breath away all the while stacking up another bittersweet in the string of memories that are so precious to me now; memories that I will hold onto until my final moments in this life.

 

Dad doing what he loves so very much in Hood River

Dad doing what he loves so very much in Hood River

We will spend a week here enjoying what this play place has to offer – windsurfing for Dad, some biking for the two of us, “ball” time with Finn, nice dinners in and out and relaxing in the heart of this funky, “feel good” town. In a week we will head west to Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast — a place that also holds special memories for us. Last summer we’d planned to also visit there but abruptly had to head home when we learned that Ben was ill and in the hospital. In hindsight adding a trip to the first and only place you saw the ocean may have been too much to endure. Coming back this year seems a bit easier and though I remember looking forward to seeing Cannon Beach last summer, it seems my heart will be able to better tolerate the first déjà vu feelings of being in that special place we visited in what unbeknownst to us at the time would be your last.

But for now, Will, I will savor my time here in Hood River with Dad and your Uncle Jim and Angie. The four of us (and Finn) will make new stories and share old ones. Dad and I will tell them of the summer fun you had skiing on the glacier and of the look of awe on your face when you first saw the vastness of the Pacific Ocean at Cannon Beach. And, of course, we will miss everything about you.

 

I love you, little blue. Bigger than a bus and more than how much you loved skiing on Mt Hood. Watch over us and laugh with us, Willy. And please comfort me in my quiet times when I am missing you too much to hold back my tears.

 

Momxo

 

Our Empty Nest

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September 2, 2013 (836 days)

Dear Will,

Today is another first day of school. Your first day in what would have been your grade 10 year of high school. All around me are moms who are saying the same words, “where has the time gone?” Though for me, it is different. I miss you more and more every day and in my world it never feels like time flies. It is a repeat of another day without you. Like last year at this time I have purposely stayed away from the stores; watching moms shopping with their kids for back to school is still too painful. Oh, what I’d give to be complaining and negotiating and frustrated with the whole list… Trying to talk you out of your perceived need for another backpack when the one you have is perfectly fine, trying to convince you that while the new shoes you want so badly are terribly over-priced (because of where they rank on the “cool factor scale”) I agree to meet you in the middle by paying for half of them….all the while feeling that maybe I was too hard on you because I do understand how important it is to want and need to fit in and that I remember as a school aged girl the excitement over a new pair of shoes at the beginning of each school year. New t-shirts and a couple of pairs of jeans, brand new whiter-than-white socks, the necessary new hoodie and last on the list, of course, the binders and notebooks that were a back to school requirement but not near as much fun to shop for as the other stuff. And then the haircut negotiations would begin… You wanting to keep it long while I was on the other end of the spectrum wishing I could talk you into a shorter style… In the end, you’d have won that battle because I did learn (finally) by having gone through it year after year with your older brothers that really, it’s only hair and not worth a battle. Once home you’d empty the bags onto your bed and want to wear it all right now — not wanting to wait until school started…and yet another round of negotiations would begin. Oh, how I miss all of it. Instead, I stay away knowing that hearing the banter and negotiating between moms and their kids would send me into another tailspin of tears.

I wonder a lot these past few days what you’d look like now; how handsome you’d be? Its not a surprise that part of what I miss most is the physicality of you. I miss seeing you, I miss your smell, your voice, your laugh. I miss being able to hug you and to touch you. I miss what it feels like to hold your hand, to pat you on the back. Gosh, Will, I even miss making your school lunches and arguing with you. What I imagine to be true is that you’d have been a stunningly handsome, almost 15 year old boy, with the most beautiful blue eyes and that because of that you’d have been a distraction amongst the girls! Then here we’d go again with another round of negotiations about the importance of your school work with less attention on the girls… Oh boy, Will, I know there’d have been some trying times between us at this stage but they’d never be as hard as not having them at all.

I am writing you this letter in the wee hours of the morning. It is still dark outside and the only sound I hear is the steady, rhythmic shrill of crickets outside the open window. Dad and I are leaving for home mid morning, having spent the long weekend here in Kelowna helping Ben move into residence and his first year of university. I am grateful that he has chosen to go to university here, close to Uncle Jim. Kelowna is a beautiful place as you know. Spending some of our time in past summers at Uncle Jim’s was full of fun times and for that reason there are good memories here for sure.

The difficult part of today will be our arrival back home and the bittersweet of walking into “clean and quiet”. Our nest is empty now and that makes me sad. These next few years were supposed to be ours with just you at home. No sharing you with your brothers. While Justin begins his last year at U of C and Ben is just beginning his university life here, Dad and I feel like we’ve been robbed of this special time with you. All of us have reached another milestone in our lives… Only dad and I aren’t ready. It’s not supposed to be our empty nest time but sadly we weren’t part of that decision. Having Finn, our big, brown dog, will help and I am grateful that we have him as he helps fill up the house a little, but, oh what I’d give to have you at home. The nest would be perfect then.

Though I believe in my heart that you are near me, I continue to search for signs of you daily. That’s what makes me smile these days. Stay close to the nest, little blue. We need you there.

Love you like a bus… parked in the nest.

Momxo

A Bike Ride For You

More than 200 rode for you!

More than 200 rode for you!

Sunday, June 3, 2012 (one year, 12 days)

Dear Will,

Yesterday we celebrated an amazing event in honour of your Foundation and it was a huge success.  Much bigger than we thought it would be and I am still in awe and overwhelmed at the

Even Nana!

Even Nana!

generousity of our community and our friends.  This place we call home is so very special and I believe that there may not be another place like it on this earth.  I am exhausted on all fronts; physically, emotionally, mentally, etc. and yet my heart, though so broken, is swelling with pride.  Pride for you and the impact that you had on so many and pride for our Village; the Village that helped raise you.  You are missed by so many, Willy, but remembered too, which is all I can ask of anyone and is all I can hope for.

During the Silent Auction, I bid on a purse full of goodies and ended up being the winning bidder.  In it was a book titled How Many People Does it Take to Make a Difference? I thought it quite a statement that I would be the recipient of that book because it was another reminder that you made such a difference in your short life.  And it made me think that everyone that participated in the Bike Ride and the Silent Auction last night made a difference too.   The preliminary calculations are looking like $40,000+ will go to your Foundation!  I can’t find words to explain what that feels like; such a bittersweet thing.  If only you were here with us at home where you should be, enjoying the gifts of the ordinary days I long for.  Oh, what I’d give for that to be true…  But, sadly that will never happen.  Instead, I will remind myself of the good that came out of this weekend; the many friends and family that supported us through your Foundation and I will remember how we all came together to remember you and to help our community heal.  You’d have loved it, Will.  But I think maybe you were there; looking down on us with a big Willy smile and giving us a big thumbs up with both hands.  You definitely are the little big man.

Love you like a bus and more than your bike,

Momxo