My Heaven on Earth

Will and Murray on Cannon Beach, Oregon.  Summer 2010

Will and Murray on Cannon Beach, Oregon. Summer 2010

August 24, 2014



Dear Will,


It has been a full summer for me. A summer of short trips to Montana to spend time with friends and in between those, our two week holiday to Oregon to retrace our last summer holiday with you. It was a summer of fun times and, of course, some hard moments, too. Life after losing you has been full of figuring out our “new normal” and it sure hasn’t come without its share of intense sadness. How could it?


When Dad and I and Finn headed to Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast we knew there would be countless bittersweets and as we’d expected, of course, there was. The memories I have of our last vacation with you are etched inside me like stone for it was on that very trip to the Oregon Coast that you saw the ocean for the first and only time. The abundant beauty in that part of the world is breathtaking and the memories I have of you in that special place are even more breathtaking.


Will and the Ocean

Will and the Ocean

We walked on the same beach and saw the same sights as we did with you in the summer of 2010. I remember the look of awe on your face when you saw the ocean for the first time and how you ran barefoot in the sand to the edge of a world new to you, anxious to feel the ocean on your toes. It was a special time, and one I am so grateful to have had. One never knows while visiting a place that it might be the last and though I was present in that moment, a part of me was already wondering where we’d vacation next and where and when you’d see the ocean again. That summer vacation was supposed to be another of the many we’d enjoy together. New adventures and new places awaited, life was good… and then the unimaginable happened and all of our dreams were shattered and broken. Wondering how we’d survive without you became our focus and thoughts of future summer vacations disappeared entirely.


Cannon Beach was everything I remembered and the clarity with which I saw it again was a beautiful déjà vu. How Haystack Rock stood so prominently just offshore, the miles and miles of sandy beach that stretched for as far as the eye could see in both directions, all the sea birds busy doing that swooping dance that they do, the numerous early morning walkers and runners, all the happy dogs in the most dog-friendly place I’ve ever been chasing birds and balls and catching frisbees, the sand castles and shovels and pails and the children of all ages that dug holes and filled pails with sand, colorful kites connected by string to dads, the shells and remnants thereof, the icy feel of the cold salt water as it enveloped my ankles…. It looked the same this visit as it did when we saw it together for the first time and a hundred years from now I imagine it will look no different. The timelessness of all that surrounds this beautiful place and the memories I have of you there will keep me wanting to visit again and again. While on the beach I would close my eyes and imagine you there – a vision I will cherish and hold onto for the rest of my days. It is quite literally my “heaven on earth” and what I imagine heaven for real will be like.


Dad and I talked endlessly of you on our travels this summer. That never changes. As the days turn into weeks, then months, and now years, it still seems like yesterday and forever that you were physically here with us. Our days continue to be full of thoughts of you in happier times; the innocent way you saw the world, the sound of your giggle, how you idolized your brothers and pushed their buttons, your genuine sensitivity and zest for fun, how you developed a style that became your own, and how you loved to be in the middle of everything we did. We spend our days honoring you in any way that we can and we do it passionately and with purpose because you are worth every minute.


IMG_1522I believe with all my heart that I will see you again and it is that belief that keeps me keeping on. When my days here come to an end I hope that the heaven you know will look just like my “heaven on earth”. I just know that you will be the first one I will see there. Until then, Will, you are my sun and my moon, the stars and a bus, and I love you as big as all that and more. I miss you bigger than big and long for that day when I will see you again.













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.




Baby Steps and Back Home

Will, Murray, and Ben at Cannon Beach, Oregon (July 2010)

Will, Murray, and Ben at Cannon Beach, Oregon
(end of July 2010)

August 16, 2013 (818 days)


Dear Willy,

Dad and I and Finn didn’t make it to Cannon Beach, Oregon as we’d planned because your brother became quite ill and ended up in the hospital with viral myocarditis.  The last day of our vacation in Hood River was full of telephone calls and texts from Ben and Justin keeping us abreast of what was taking place back home.  When Ben ended up being admitted to hospital, Dad and I knew we needed to come home.  I know you get this and I’m even thinking that you already know the whole story… as I am quite certain that in some special Willy Angel way you were watching over Ben whilst keeping us safe on our long drive home.

Once home and when we learned that Ben was going to be fine, I was trying to make sense of all that had happened and I think maybe I wasn’t yet ready to visit Cannon Beach again.  All summer, I was guardedly looking forward to that part of our holiday but as the day crept closer I found myself welling up with tears at the thought of being there without you.  It is a beautiful and special place as it was where you saw the ocean for the first time and seeing the ocean was something that you always wanted to see.  Just thinking about it made my stomach feel shaky and my heart feel heavier than usual.

Knowing that we needed to go North back to Canada instead of West felt right as I knew that home was where I needed and wanted to be.  Next summer we will try again to get back to that special place on the ocean; and maybe in another year it’ll be easier.  We still take baby steps, Will, trying so hard to move forward when all we want is to go back to when you were with us here.  If only we could… you know we would.

Miss you little one.  More than a bus.