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.

Momxo

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

 

 

So Long, May

image

My Little Blue

Sunday, May 29, 2016

So Long May

Dear Will,

As I turn the calendar to the last days of May I am relieved that 1) I made it and 2) the overwhelming sadness that I associate with May is behind me again for another year. I am often asked if losing you gets easier with time and the answer to that is no, 100% absolute no. It is not one bit easier. There is still a sting, an emptiness, and an ache deep inside that can make it hard to breathe. Still.

I still wonder every moment how this can happen and why parents sometimes outlive their children when it just should never, ever be. I struggle still with not being able to touch you, to physically see you in your body and believe me, I will miss that forever. Where I do find comfort, and where I seek it is in all of the things and places that I believe you are. I believe it’s you because I can feel you. Sometimes its that feeling of déjà vu and sometimes it’s the way you feel when you think somebody is looking at you from the other side of the room, only there is nobody there… except you.

I believe you are those little blue butterflies in the spring and the heart-shaped rocks that find their way to my pockets and to my home. I believe you are the magnificent rainbows and double rainbows that wow me, and that you are the very sparkliest snowflakes in every blanket of Willy that falls to the ground. I know that you are the effervescent dewdrops in the trees that a friend of mine says stretch up so high that they must hold up heaven. There have been moments when I’ve said your name out loud, asked if it was you, but knew in my heart that it was. Sometimes it’s the way Finn looks seemingly “through me” and not at me. I’ve seen you in the aura that surrounds the sun and in the middle star of Orion’s Belt as it twinkles so brightly in the night sky. I feel your winks and your pokes, your smiles and your gotcha’s and at the end of the day before I sleep I feel your “I love yous”.

I promise you, Will, for as long as I am on this side of heaven I will continue to look for all the signs you send to let me know that you are here. I promise that I will never lose hope, or my faith in the magical power that is you and that we refer to as WillPower.

I love you, little blue. More than ever and anything and a bus.

Momxo

Celebrating Every Tiny Moment

TinyHeartRock

Tiny Heart

Sunday, March 13, 2016

 

Hey Little Blue,

 

It has been a week of much reflection. A week of questions with no answers, of traumatic flashbacks and a week of friends having to find their way amidst their own losses. The circle of life is not always an easy one but I know firsthand that when there is deep sadness it means there is deep love. I was reminded over and over of how small we really are and of how little control we have in this big picture we call life.

 

There are two special women who have woven threads into my own life story and who have taught me heaps about life and loss, grief and sadness. They shared their voices with me and spun yet another perspective on life and loss. They invited me to see their loss through their eyes and painted a beautiful picture of not what could have been or should have been, but what is. Their stories are incredibly beautiful and inspiring and I feel so blessed to know them.

 

Come Thursday, I found myself “needing” our weekly drive to the mountains and when Dad and I headed to Fernie that afternoon I felt that I could once again fill my lungs with a big breath and see the beauty that surrounded me with quiet, thoughtful eyes. I had a plan, Will, and for my Type A personality that felt pretty darn good. (Remember how some of my plans would drive you boys crazy? Well, that’s Type A for you and good or bad I must tell you that I still have that). Rather than stay in sadness I was going to search for and celebrate all the tiny beautiful moments I could find. The crazy part though was that, much to my surprise, the tiny moments found me. At first I was dumbfounded? And then I knew. It was you, Will. It had to be you. It was you.

 

Snowflakes that fell while the sun shone? That could only be you. Tiny, new shoots of green poking up through patches of ice and snow? Pretty sure that was you. A lone ladybug crawling across the windowsill in our bedroom? Yup, you again. The tiny glimpse I had of your star in the night sky when everyone claimed that it was cloudy and overcast? Had to be you. And the teeny tiny heart shaped rock that I found while walking Finn on Saturday? Hands down, that was you.

 

With each of those tiny moments comes a smile that begins in my heart and radiates outward. These seemingly little things are what matter most and the impact they carry is huge. They are the necessary reminders that keep me keepin’ on because they are you. You’re a funny one, Will, always the boy who loved to poke and to have the last word (even when it got you into trouble). I will never tire of these tiny, magical moments you sprinkle about my world. Each one a tiny moment worthy of a celebration.

 

Love you, Little Blue. Like a bus… full to the brim with tiny celebrations.

 

 

Momxo

 

Peek-a-Boo, I See You

WillForever

Monday, February 15, 2016

 

Dear Will,

 

There’s this photo I have. And it might be the most powerful photo I own…

 

I walked into a store on main street in Fernie on a summer day in 2011…. only weeks after losing you and to this day I’m not sure if I laid eyes on it first or if it laid eyes on me. It was another of those profound moments that are crystal clear in my mind and the feelings it brought forth were and still are eerily beautiful. I remember being drawn to it the moment I walked through the doors because this boy looked like you. Just. Like. You. I picked it up and in the quiet stillness that surrounded me I heard these words — “peek-a-boo, Mom”. I knew that I could not leave the store without it.

 

Those few weeks after losing you were numbing, confusing, foggy, terribly painful and raw with emotion. I spent all of my waking moments searching for answers, for meaning, for ways to survive, for something to believe in, for a God that would promise to take me to you at the end of my days here and that for eternity nothing could tear us apart. On that day, seeing that photo, it felt like I had the answer I wanted so desperately.  You see it, too, don’t you, Will?

 

It’s as if this photo was taken from inside of me; from deep within my soul. This is what I see when I open my eyes. I see you as if you are super imposed into/onto everything that is real. It is yet another reminder that the veil is thin. And I like it that way. Peek-a-boo back at you, Willy. I see you.

 

Love you like a bus, Will… with peek-a-boo windows from my soul.

 

 

Momxo

 

Little Super Heroes

My Little Superhero - Batman Will

My Little Superhero – Batman Will

October 3, 2015

Hey Willy,

On Thursday when I turned the calendar to October my heart felt heavy. What was once one of the happiest months of the year now feels empty and hard as I try to prepare myself nothing seems to be able to take that feeling away. I’ve certainly gotten better at recognizing that my cup is half full instead of half empty but the turning of the calendar is yet another blatant sign of the passage of time; not just because it marks another month but because it’s your birthday month.   On the fourteenth (in eleven days) you’d have been 17 years old and instead of celebrating with you at our family table we will honor you in what has become our new birthday tradition for you. Like always, I will still prepare your favourite meal (ribs) and bake a birthday cake and like we’ve done on your last four birthdays after dinner we’ll gather in the backyard with our handwritten messages tied to a helium balloon and in our own time we’ll let go, sending our messages up to you in heaven. It’s not easy, Will, but it is beautiful.

Instead of ruminating on the heaviness of what could have been I will live in the memories of birthdays past and remember the sometimes crazy birthday party adventures that you so loved. Your laugh, Will, and the sound of you and your friends running around like little super heroes outside will always be one of my favourite sounds.

Super heroes? … Well, here’s a super hero story that I want to tell you about. This week one of the little boys that I work with at school shot a ray of sunshine through my heart like a little super hero when he asked, “Mrs. Bouchard, can you tell me about your Will?” Of course, I said yes as I love when your name comes up. You are always on my mind and when someone asks about you my hearts swells.   Though sometimes it’s through tears I can pour my heart out with stories about you. This little guy didn’t know you, Will; he’d never met you as he’d have only been 3 years old when you passed but somehow he’d heard of you and he wanted to know more about you. You were definitely on super hero status that day and after I answered his questions and shared the beautiful parts of having a boy like you he thanked me. You’d like this little guy, Will. And by the way, when he asked me if he’d meet you when he went to heaven I told him that for sure he would (because I told him you have his dog. His dog died a couple of weeks ago and you have him because you always wanted a dog).

My sweet Will, you are indeed a super hero. You’ll always be a super hero to me. The missing part of you is so big and I know that if you had the special powers it took to come home for your birthday you would. Instead, I believe you have the special skiing super powers that enable you to ski from cloud to cloud and star to star.

Love you like a bus with a big super hero cape.

Momxo

No Dental Visits in Heaven

Happy Times... Will and his friend, Natasha

Happy Times… Will and his friend, Natasha

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hey Will,

I just got home from the dentist and I was there for a long time this afternoon (yuk)! It is no surprise that most people do not like dental work. This was certainly true when it came to you having to visit the dentist. Even regular cleanings and check-ups would throw you into a tailspin. The novelty of the dentist’s treasure chest full of bouncy balls, rings, green slimy sticky hands, and army men in parachutes that got all tangled up in the string wore off quicker for you than others and I remember once having to make good on a promise that I’d buy you a new Beanie Baby after a check-up.

A dental visit for you was rarely a positive experience. More than your brothers you were the one that seemed to have the most uncomfortable dental appointments in our family. When your friends were excited about wiggly teeth you were the opposite because for you it was quite possible that it meant a trip to the dentist. Your baby teeth, Will, just never wanted to come out on their own. Those little buggers might still be in there if Dr. Mike didn’t have to pull them out. Imagine your mouth full of teeth – baby ones and big ones, rows upon rows… It was difficult for me to have to take you when I knew how nervous and upset it made you but it was out of necessity that you needed to go. No mom I know would choose to put her child through that much discomfort if it wasn’t necessary. Necessary was the part that was hard for you to understand.

As I lay in the dental chair today thoughts of you and your teeth were all I could think about. I had taken my iPhone with me thinking that I’d pass the time listening to music but not once did I put in my ear buds. I couldn’t think about music when all I could think about was you. I was remembering all the times when you were small that I sat and held your little hand while you were in the chair and the couple of times when the dental assistant had to ask me to leave because occasionally it was worse when I was there. Sometimes I think it hurt me as much as it hurt you when I had to take you to the dentist. Watching you try so hard to be brave when a tear or two would fall out of your eye and down your cheek all the while knowing that the floodgates were holding back many more was heartbreaking. And most times we hadn’t even arrived at the dental office yet… sometimes we hadn’t even left home.

What I thought about the most though was how happy you must be to not have to worry about seeing the dentist anymore. Heaven knows no pain, Will, so that can only mean there are no dental visits for you up there. When I close my eyes I can see you giving me a big thumbs up for that. And I can also hear you telling me that those big slimy green hands that stuck not only to windows and mirrors, but to carpets, upholstery, and my hair were the best toys in the treasure chest.

Sure do miss you, Willy. Way, way more than you miss the dentist.

Love you like a bus,

Momxo

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.

 

Lulab,

 

Momxo