December 31, 2016
Well, sweet One, December has been quite a month. For me (your Type A Mom!) it was a month that will go down in the books as one that reminded me that even with all of the best intentions sometimes plans can go sideways and coming up with a Plan B can be good, too. I will also remember this December as one that beckoned even more strength than usual. With the holiday season our broken hearts seem more broken than ever and I realize that the jagged edges of losing you have not smoothed over time. Some things are just not possible and not having you in our earthly world will always be the most painful thing to endure. No matter the day, the month or the year.
In mid December your biggest brother became ill and we learned that his appendix had unfortunately burst. With that came an emergency surgery followed by 11 days in hospital. Not only did he spend his 28th birthday in hospital but as Christmas Day approached there was the probability that he would have to remain in hospital due to the serious abdominal infection he was fighting. It was an easy decision to accept that we’d forego Christmas in Fernie as Christmas without Justin was never an option.
So Plan B ensued and Dad dug out the tiny artificial tree from the basement and brought up the box of Christmas decorations that I opened only once since losing you. That box held all of the special handmade ornaments that you boys made in kindergarten and elementary school – those special Christmases when magic pumped through your veins and through our house right down to bells on boots and zipper pulls, special Santa pillowcases and advent calendars and boxes and cups of hot chocolate stuffed with marshmallows while reading Christmas books in our jammies. The first Christmas without you I’d pulled out only a few to take with us to Fernie where, out of mere survival and the need to have certain special things in our midst, we began a new tradition. Our new Willy Christmases are all about you. Your Santa hat or toque has replaced the angel figure that used to grace the top of our tree and we adorn the tree branches with all of our family ski passes over the years. Each year I have added sparkly snowflakes of all colors and sizes, fuzzy snowballs and the glitteriest things I could find. All the while I’d not forgotten that at home was that very special box of Christmas treasures and one that I knew one day when I was ready I’d open again and cherish more than I had ever before. Well, that day did come and though I might not have been ready it seemed the right thing to put on our little tree. And so I did. And it was beautiful, Will.
As each day brought us closer to Christmas we continued to pray that Justin would be well enough to come home and each day we’d hear again the “not today” news. We decided that if Justin couldn’t come to us, we’d take Christmas to him. With a heavy heart on Christmas morning I went upstairs to bathe and dress so we could go to the hospital and when I came down the stairs what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Justin and Amy sitting on the couch in our living room in front of our little tree. There were only two things I could do, Will. One was to cry and the other was to hold on to the stair railing so I wouldn’t fall. For the rest of my life I will always remember that moment of surprise and how my heart burst. Oh, how I love a love burst! We had a wonderful day complete with Christmas dinner and though Justin needed to return to hospital that evening we knew that if they’d allowed him a day pass that a hospital discharge was not far away. Our wish came true the next day.
As I look back now this last day of 2016 I think about the love bursts of the year and am refilling my heart with the happy moments that will help sustain me as I flip the calendar to a new year and another painful reminder of the passage of time. I think about all of the signs you continue to send our way — the magical rainbows, the sunspots and the beautiful sparkly snowflakes that can only be you. I think about another successful Ride For Will and how your legacy just keeps on keepin’ on. I think about Justin marrying his Amy and the girl that we are delighted to have as part of our family. I think about Ben and the love for the outdoors that is his passion and the exhilaration and anticipation that comes with completing his last year of university. I think of Dad and how we continue to hold each other in happy times and how we find comfort in each other’s arms when the world is too much to bear. I think of Finn and how much joy he brings to our home and I swear that lurking behind his knowing eyes are your eyes and a place I often look to for love bursts. For all of these moments I am grateful and when I wake tomorrow to 2017 I will continue to fill my heart with all of these moments while I search for and cultivate more.
I love you, Sweet Will. Like a bus full of love bursts and sparkles and glittery things and all the things that I cherish most in my life… you, your brothers, your Dad and our big, brown dog.