The Five or So People You Meet in Heaven

Will – Grade 7 Basketball

March 16, 2017

 

Dear Will,

 

As I’m sure you already know, your Grade 7 teacher (Mrs. Harford) has joined you on the other side and I wonder if you may have been one of the five or so people that met her in heaven? She was so lovely in so many ways and was a teacher that had begun to make a real difference in your learning of important life skills.

 

She had some real “mom like” qualities and was determined to teach you that amongst the obvious academics, you needed to know the importance of good organizational and strong time management skills. Stuff that I, as your mom, tried to teach you and your brothers over and over and over… A few things that Mrs. Harford had over me were 1) she wasn’t your mom, 2) she didn’t see how well you could dig in your heels, and 3) she was so lovely all of the time.

 

One thing you did super well was to present what you thought most important to a 12 year old boy and as I look back, YOUR grade 7 real world perspective was important. Well, most of it…

 

Friends and sleepovers and the importance of a bike and a pair of skis… A voice that always mattered and a warm bed… Help with homework and a ride to all those early morning practices… Age appropriate freedom like biking to school and ripping down to the park on your skateboard…Eating cookie dough and choosing your own new shoes, icecream and marshmallow science (when I wasn’t home), sitting ON Dad and a before bed tuck-in.

 

All these things were so important to you and though I didn’t buy in to candy before dinner and chocolate before bed you didn’t seem hungry when an apple or banana was the option, nor were you receptive to the word “no” even when “yes” was out of the question. (This is where Mrs. Harford didn’t see how well you could dig in your heels.) Grade 7 — a time when you were really coming into your own.

 

On Wednesday afternoon Mrs. Fisher sat beside me on the couch in front of our big living room window and as we shared tears and talked about Mrs. Harford’s battle with cancer she exclaimed mid-sentence, “look, it’s snowing? It’s Will!” The uncanny thing about this scenario is that it was +8 C and it should have been impossible for it to snow, but it did. You have taught me that nothing is impossible in heaven and so it was at that moment we agreed that you and Mrs. Harford had just met each other on the other side. Crazy? I think not. Why? Because you have taught me so much about the other side and what it’s like there. How else can one even try to explain snowflakes on a warm, sunny, spring day?

 

I hope that you were on your best behavior on Wednesday and that weren’t talking out of turn. Were you tidy and organized and on time? I know you may not have had matching socks or combed your hair (really, I can’t even remember a time when that actually happened down here, but you had that kind of hair!). All this aside, I do imagine that you had the biggest smile and that your bright, blue eyes and zest for fun showed her that you’d make it feel like some of the best parts of her life up there — in heaven where the skies are always blue and there is no such thing as cancer.

 

Love you sweet Will. Like a bus carrying the five or so people that met Mrs. Harford in heaven. Stay close to her, Will. She still had so much to teach you.

 

 

Momxo

 

 

As November Wanes

Our Will.  When our world was perfect.

Our Will.
When our world was perfect.

November 30, 2016

Dear Willy,

As November wanes I find myself between reflecting on the happy moments of this fall and then trying to wrap myself around how I will find the gumption to face another December and the painful feelings that come with the holiday season.

This October 22 was one of our happiest days as we witnessed your big brother marry the love of his life and the girl we, too, love to bits. I can’t help but wonder, Will, if maybe you had something to do with them marrying on a 2-2 day thinking that a sprinkle of happy was what we needed going forward and that perhaps having a happy measure of time would make it a little easier for us on the 22nd day of every month? It wouldn’t surprise me since all of your short life you were all about spreading smiles and cultivating happiness. I must also tell you, Will, that being the only female in a family of five, for me it was a wish come true that our family has grown to include a daughter-in-law. The only sad part for me was that in a perfect world you’d have been there too and that your Willy shenanigans would have been part of their day. I wish you and Amy would have had the chance to know each other. I do know you’d love her as we do.

Tomorrow will be the first day of December and the heaviness I feel not only typing the word “December”, but also hearing and saying that word conjures up an emptiness that just never goes away. We’ve done this December thing now for five years and one might expect that it should be easier for us but it just isn’t. I do try to find love and light in each of December’s days but there are times when I have to dig real deep and sometimes to no avail. Amongst them, however, we find a jewel here and there – like Justin’s birthday, for one. December 17th always makes us smile but there is no denying that when you were here to celebrate with us the day was just better.

As November wanes and I wake to the first sunrise of December I will take a big, deep breath and before I open my eyes tomorrow morning I will take a moment longer and feel you in the deepest parts of my heart. I couldn’t love you more or miss you more than I already do and you will always be the first person I see before I open my eyes. I will think about all the sparkles that you are waiting to sprinkle upon us and the love and light that you want us to feel so deeply. We will find some smiles in our December days but you must know, Willy, that our smiles were the biggest and the brightest when you were living December with us.

I love you, sweet Will. Bigger than a bus and, as November wanes, brighter than a super moon.

Momxo

September and Socks

Will, Brent and Jordan.  Friends Then, Friends Still

Will, Brent and Jordan.
Friends Then, Friends Still

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hey Will,

Well, fall is definitely in the air these days and the crisp mornings, yellow leaves and fall smells have enveloped me in what I can only describe as my favourite season. Soon the snow will fly and your favourite season will be upon us. For now, though, I will savour everything that is fall and will remember all of what September was to our family when our world was perfect.

For a few years now, September is the month Ben returns to university and Dad and I are confronted again with living alone in the house that for a long time was filled with all you boys and all the smelly stuff that is part of you guys. The best Septembers were when you were all here at home — three new school backpacks hanging in the closet, three new pairs of outdoor shoes in the vicinity of the front door and oodles of brand new socks after all the old tattered and mismatched ones with holes were silently thrown away before school started again. New socks… such a September right of passage…

Sadly, this September should have been our first empty nest, Will, but life threw us that terrible tragedy 5 ½ years ago and we were robbed of precious time. A lifetime with you would never have been enough but oh, to have had more time… I’ve spent much of this month wondering where you’d be this first September after high school, and knowing of course that you’d be at UBC in the Okanangan – Just. Like. Ben. No one would be surprised as your idolization for Ben was no secret. You do know it drove your brother crazy but raining on his parade was what you loved to do and to do that at university would have been a proud feather in your cap.

I’ve frequently thought about Kathleen too and hoped that she would be on the good side of your conscience; a reminder to you to make good choices. I have also thought a lot about your friends, Jordan and Brent, who are also at UBC in Kelowna and I just know that the three of you would be thick as thieves on that campus and that I’d be worrying myself crazy… then in the next breath wishing more than anything that it was true and that I had the chance to worry about you. Sigh. I’d give anything to have all of that. I was corresponding with Jordan mid September, wondering how he was doing, and when your name came up he, too, agreed that in a perfect world you’d be there with them. I reminded him that as an angel you were there looking out for them, keeping them safe and sharing in the fun. He replied that he knew you were. My heart smiles, Will, when I hear that your friends still keep you close. I hope that they will for all of their lives.

Next weekend is Thanksgiving and Ben will be coming home. And Kathleen. And Brent. And Jordan. Ben who has adapted to being away from home and whom we are used to coming home and then going again, but for the others coming home having just spent their first September at university will be a bit more exciting. Not just for them, but for their parents and families, too. Dinner is always better when everyone is sitting around the table and we’re blessed that Justin is able to come for dinner frequently. Having Ben at home for Thanksgiving is something I look forward to very much. I count the days. I imagine in our perfect world that once in the driveway you’d pile out of the car on his coat tails leaving everything in the back seat and make a run for the front door thinking it was a race to get their first while he’d saunter in, leaving a trail of things he was bringing with him from the back seat. Of course, there’d be hugs and then to the refrigerator you’d both go only this time it would be a race to see who’d get there first. It’s difficult still to live with the reality that you won’t be returning home too, and the pining that my heart feels tugs heavily on my heartstrings sometimes still pulling me down to my knees.

Instead, I know that you’ll be with us in spirit. That you’ll be sitting in your spot at the table. We’ll talk about you like we always do and we’ll be grateful for the times we did have together. We’ll reminisce about all of the Septembers that we did have and we’ll laugh and cry and eat turkey and mashed potatoes til our tummies are ready to explode. And then I’ll pick up all the dirty, new socks that will have littered the house whilst Ben is home…

Love you, Willy. Like a bus full of brand new socks.

Momxo

Signs and Big, Big Love

Fernie Alpine Resort photo credit:  Fernie Alpine Resort

Fernie Alpine Resort
photo credit: Fernie Alpine Resort

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dear Willy,

It’s a beautiful, bluebird morning in Fernie and I am in my pajamas with a cup of tea watching the sunshine awaken the mountain that beckons you. You, Will, are all I am thinking of.   I feel drawn to this place, a gentle unwavering pull that is you. It seems to me that so many adults struggle with where they want to retire, where they see themselves wanting to spend the next chapter of their lives when their kids are grown and have finished university to embark on “the school of real life”. The decision to spend more time in Fernie and make this the place where we will retire became crystal clear when we sadly and tragically lost you in May 2011. Life and me so defined by that day – like a line in the sand. I subconsciously categorize all that happens in my world as before losing you and after losing you.

Will skiing in Fernie - the place he wanted to someday call home.

Will skiing in Fernie – the place he wanted to someday call home.

The before is full of so many wonderful memories; days full of laughs and giggles, of hugs and I love yous (oh, there were some “I’m mad at yous” too), of brothers pushing buttons to provoke deliberate annoyance, of driving here and there and everywhere, and of constant negotiations around, well, everything. Life was good then, it was full and the way it was supposed to be, the norm so to speak… all of them days that I would give anything to have back. Life after losing you has been a struggle to say the least. Days where there is no choice but to find a way to live, days where I must go on without the physicality of you. Even though I see signs of you everywhere and know in my heart that you are all around me spiritually, the physical part is what I miss so very much. The reality that I cannot see you grow, that I can’t tousle your hair and feel your hugs or hear what your teenage voice would sound like are still too hard to bear. What keeps me going, Will, is my belief that I will see you again and that when I do we will be together for eternity. Believing that you strategically send signs that confirm your presence continue to put the warm and fuzzy in my living days.

Our FinnWilly

Our FinnWilly

I will forever believe that you are every beautiful snowflake, every rainbow, every blue butterfly, and every heart shaped rock on my path. You are the sparkle in a dewdrop and the twinkle of a star and you are that warm wind that sometimes so suddenly will hit my face on a frigidly cold day. I believe that you are the knowing eyes in our dog and the playful spirit and knowing way that Finn just has to be in the middle of Dad and I wherever we are. I think all of this is YOU showing up, sending your love, and reminding us that you are here.

Please keep on showing up, Willy. Keep on sending those signs that sometimes stop me in my tracks and sometimes make me turn around and go back, the signs that make me whisper your name and make me stop and stay in the moment for awhile. You are the signs that make me feel warm and fuzzy, that sometimes make me smile and sometimes make me cry. Today, Little Blue, you are the blue sky that serves as the backdrop to the mountain you called your own. You are the sunshine that makes that blue sky possible today and you are the reason that I find myself smiling right now.

Big, big Love (photo credit unknown)

Big, big Love
(photo credit unknown)

Love you like a bus, Will. The bus that sits on the white sparkling snow somewhere over the rainbow. That’s big love, Will. Big, big love.

Momxo