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

 

 

C’mon Mom

All the Inner Strength and WillPower I will ever need...

All the Inner Strength and WillPower I will ever need…

Dear Will,

 

Hey sweet one, wanted you to know how necessary you have been to the introduction of my new knees to my old body and the healing that must take place in order for us to get along in the active life I long for and miss so much. Getting these two new knees has not been an easy road and although I knew it would be challenging there have been some days that I had to lean on you more than I thought I’d need to.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret having the surgery and am happy everyday to report that the chronic, achy, “migraine in my knees” kind of pain is gone!  I have no more osteoarthritis and my legs are straight. I’m taller, Will!  Not quite the Jana Hart kind of tall, but for the record — I. Am. Taller.  And, the cowboy boots I wore to Dina’s special dinner looked awesome, not that you’d really care about that.

 

This month has been one that I’ve had to lean on you so much more than usual. I have felt you near me, have heard you whisper, “C’mon Mom. Climb on my back. I bet I can give you a piggy back?”  Then my reply to you and I’ve even said it out loud, “Uh. No. Climbing on your back is not gonna happen.”  “Why?” you say. “Because that would just be weird and strong and mighty as you are, Will, you don’t need me on your back.”  So instead and just the way I like it, I have your hands in mine — sometimes just one, but at times both of them.  Your hands are warm and a bit wiggly, but I kinda always liked that.  Being still was not really one of your strong attributes. (Nor was being quiet, however, I think that’s one of the things that made you so likeable amongst your peers.)

 

One of the most difficult parts of this and one that I am a bit surprised has hit me as hard as it has is the depression that is common to the post-surgical healing process. Before surgery the medical team did talk about it and they stressed that there would be resources available to support me through it should I need it. I consider myself “quite” aware of depression and how it can rear itself in my body and in my mind but it goes to show that knowing about and being aware of depression doesn’t mean you don’t experience it. The reality of the weeks and months of healing and the patience and work that it requires isn’t surprising – that wouldn’t be the right word – maybe restrictive is the better way to explain it. And with restriction comes feelings of isolation that in turn affect my self-esteem… then along comes some feelings of worthlessness… and round and round it goes. The days can be too long, Will.

 

After my surgery, while still in hospital a social worker stopped by my room and we had a chat about how I was feeling post surgery and what kinds of thoughts and feelings could present once I went home. We talked about depression and PTSD and I shared my story of losing you and how I knew first hand what depression and PTSD was. She listened while I shared my belief that as a mother who’d lost a child there would never be anything worse in my life or nothing that I could not handle going forward. My certainty in those words is as strong as it will ever be and that is what gets me through the sometimes dark moments of depression when I wonder just for a moment where I will find the strength to overcome the feelings of “I don’t know if I can”. It felt a little like the table had been turned when it was she who shed a few tears and we even laughed for a moment about it; how it was she who’d been given a takeaway moment instead of she delivering one to me. You see, Will, she was a Mom too. “Your healing road will have bumps and hurdles,” she said, “but you’ll be just fine.” And, I’ve no double that I will be.

 

You, little blue, are my inner strength. It is you that pulls me up, that gives me the extra uuumph that I need to heal these knees and get on with it. Your whispers, “C’mon Mom” and your hands in mine are the ever-present reminders that my new knees and I will get to know each other and we’ll be just fine.

 

Love you, Will. Like a bus, of course. With brand, new wheels!

 

 

 

Momxo

 

 

 

 

 

WillPower Graduation 2016

WillPower Graduation 2016

WillPower Graduation 2016

July 6, 2016

 

Dear Will,

 

When I think about all the times I thought about you in June, all the times I called your name, prayed to you, the times I cried thinking about you and the times too, that you made me laugh I am dumbfounded that I didn’t write a hundred love letters to you last month. It was by no means a month where there was no communication ~ Gosh, Will, that would just be impossible. Instead it was a month where I hung onto every bit of you so that I could make it through.

 

June 2016 was a month I expected would be one of the most difficult in our five years without you. Months after your accident when I began to come out of the scary fog called shock I began to think about all the milestones that you’d miss out on and that, as your parents, Dad and I would miss out on too. All these milestone moments that would transport me right back to my own growing up years; things like my 16th birthday, getting my driver’s license, the scary, first day of high school to name a few. For a long, long time I couldn’t talk about the day in June 2016 that would have been your high school graduation. The one day that packs a big punch not only for what you’d have achieved and accomplished in high school, but also the jumping board from man cub to young man.

 

I’ve had a long time to think about this day, to plan how I might soften the blow, to wonder how I could keep it together when I’d see your friends and if maybe I could run away and hide so that I didn’t have to. And then the most beautiful thing happened, Will.

 

Forever Friends

Forever Friends

The week of your amazing Ride For Will I received a phone call that I will never forget. One of your classmates (thank you, MT) planted a seed and asked a question of the High School Graduation Committee. Could there be a chair for you amongst them at the Convocation Ceremony where you could be with your classmates? The pride and love that filled every part of me was a feeling I can’t find the words to describe. Maybe its because there isn’t a word to describe that kind of love? These kids that were once your kindergarten pals, and then your grade school classmates thought about you on their day five years later. They had wristbands made that said “WillPower Graduation 2016” and had a Class of 2016 photo in their graduation gowns with their wrists held high in the air. Jordan presented it to us on behalf of your classmates the day before they would celebrate their own milestone day.

 

So Little Mr. Blue Sky, if you can imagine a machine that makes tears that can fill a tub faster than a faucet then you can imagine what my eyeballs looked like. Your little light is so darn bright and where there is light, there will always be you.

 

Love you like a bus, Will. A lit up bus as bright as the sun.

 

 

Momxo

Some friends just never ever forget.  Sure do love these man cubs...

Some friends just never ever forget. Sure do love these man cubs…

 

 

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

 

Perfectly Ordinary

snowman copy 2

January 15, 2016

 

My Sweet Will,

 

2016.  The first thing that comes to my mind is the number five.  The passing of time seems always to be where my mind, without even thinking, drifts first.  For fifteen days now we’re into a new year and I shake my head in disbelief knowing that it will be 5 years this May.  I wonder over and over, also in disbelief, how it could even be possible that yesterday and forever can seem the same?  Time is funny that way.

 

I read a post on Facebook this morning that spoke to me in a profound way.  Instantly, I thought about the words I wrote in my tribute to you – the words that Mary read on my behalf at your Celebration of Life six days after our world changed forever.  I wanted to reprint them here in your letter so you are reminded of what I miss the most about you, Will.

 

Here goes…

 

Last Sunday I experienced every mother’s “unimaginable”.  I lost my WillBilly.  On that evening, a part of me was lost with Will as well; Partly, because I have this overwhelming need to be with him and also because at twelve years of age, quite frankly, he still needs his mom.   Surrounding his passing are emotions beyond words.

 

I recently read (not once, but three times) Katrina Kenison’s book, “The Gift of an Ordinary Day” and many of the words I am sharing with you today were born from hers and some word for word as it seems Moms everywhere convey the same kind of love. 

 

Katrina writes and it couldn’t be more true for me that “One of the hardest lessons I am learning is that the answers to the really big questions, the answers I most hunger for, don’t ever come to us from the outside; rather, they come from a quiet place within.  A place we can reach only when we find within ourselves the courage to pause, to abide for a while in that place of not knowing, to be at peace even with our uncertainties, and then to listen and attend with the ear of our own hearts.”

 

I often find myself thinking back to when Will was really small.  Days that began with cinnamon toast cut into finger size pieces and might end with made-up stories or shadow pictures on a bedroom wall.  In between there were walks to the river, picnic lunches at the park, popsicles, hot wheels and miles and miles of orange track that would meander around our living room furniture.   And then there was lego.  Lots. And. Lots. Of. Lego.  Crayola markers, playdough, puzzles, a plastic wading pool and a lawn sprinkler that could enchant a neighbourhood of kids for hours, a shallow red dish full of dish soap and glycerin, and magic wands that once waved hundreds of wobbly, irridescent bubbles into the air.

 

 As he grew, so did his world.  Sports became a part of Will and as long as he had friends (and he had many) to do them with he was having the time of his life.  A trampoline, a bag of candy, a pair of park skis and powder skis, fancy goggles, snow, sleepovers, bacon, his iPod, bouncy balls, Kathleen, Kale, hoodies, hats, a flannel shirt, his constant singing, his laugh and most of all a family who loved him beyond words were all that mattered.  Simple, ordinary pleasures.  

 

It’s still hard for me to believe that all of this has vanished, that those times are truly gone for good.  Thankfully, what I have now are countless, beautiful memories that scroll endlessly in my mind.  Memories of his constant show of affection, as well as the countless peanut butter and banana sandwiches, bedtime stories, earaches and scraped knees, baking soda volcanoes, snowball fights, trips into Bragg Creek for icecream and how I hauled his baritone sax to and from school every week because it was too big to carry on the bus.  How I harped at him to finish his homework and how I had to remind him to pick up his wet towel off the floor every morning. Yet I am grateful to have had all of those moments, for they are the ones that have turned out, in the end, to be the most precious recollections of all, even though they went unrecorded, unwritten, unremarked on at the time.

 

Our photo albums and computers are full of pictures of birthday cakes and holiday celebrations, vacation trips and family adventures.  But the memories I find myself holding onto the tightest, the ones that I will cherish for the rest of my life are the ones that you couldn’t capture in a photograph.  His giggle, his “I love you, moms”, his little boy arms around my neck and his final words every night, “Mom, can you tuck me in?” followed by, “I love you like a bus.”  Quite simply, a family’s life as it is from one hour, or day, or season, to the next.  The most wonderful gift we had and the gift I will cherish above all else, was the gift of all those perfectly ordinary days.

 

I will always carry Will with me.  Everywhere I go.  Forever.”

(from my Tribute to Will, May 28, 2011)

 

What I want you to always know, Willy, is that I couldn’t miss you more than I did back then or more than I do now.  All of those perfectly ordinary moments have become what I cherish most in life.  They are the movie that plays over and over and over in my heart. 

 

And just like we ended each of our days all those days ago,

 

… I love you like a bus, Willy.  A big, ole ordinary bus with perfectly ordinary wheels.

 

 

Momxo

 

Thank God For Pockets


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dear Will,
This summer has been full of thoughts and memories of you. Your little “signs” are abundant and when I think about them I can’t help but smile. It’s crazy how many heart shaped rocks I have found and collected this summer; my pockets bursting each time I arrive back home after a doggie walk with Finn or a bike ride to the river. On our vacation in Maui the heart shaped pieces of coral would, of course, find their way to the pockets of my beach tote and at the end of each day I’d add the coral hearts to the growing line down the middle of the table where we’d eat dinner by candlelight. Me and Dad and you. Wherever I was, it seemed I only had to look down and there were heart shaped signs of you at my feet.

Holy cow, Will, I’ve quite a collection and when I empty my bursting pockets I am reminded of the things I’d find in your pockets while sorting laundry. Oh boy, there were Little Lego people and magnets, quarters and loonies that you’d find between the couch cushions where dad would often snooze (“searching” the couch was your cash cow!). I’d find fuzz balls and bits of rolled plasticine, erasers and lint covered candy and the occasional bottle cap or a torn piece of scrap paper with a friend’s phone number written on it so you could call them for a play date. All the random little treasures that were important for you to keep at the time found a safe place in your pockets. Just like my rocks.

You, Kathleen and Kale on the beach in Montana

While in Montana I was reminded of the many trips you and Kathleen would make in the golf cart to the store for Laffy Taffy and the iced tea cans you and Kale were collecting one summer. All the sand hill adventures are etched in my mind too — when you and your friends would scurry up the sand hills, rest for a minute or 5 seconds and then run full tilt or barefoot ski back down the hill and into the lake.

Parker, You and Kale – Mud Monsters

All the fun you had with Kale and Parker covering yourselves from eyeball to toe with mud and clay, swimming, building driftwood forts and how during your last summer you’d fallen in love with playing volleyball on the beach with the big kids and adults. Some of those memories still bring me to tears.  

I’m back in Fernie now where there are memories of you all over the place. The ski hill, the ski shops that become bicycle shops in the summer, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory where you had a preferred customer card from all the candy apples you bought (thanks to all the money you’d find in the couch?). Watching ski movies with Josh and how you loved to spend time with him and Andrea on and off your skis. I love it here, Will, because you loved this place.

Come next week I’ll return home to our Redwood home where summer memories of you will live forever . I am reluctant to look beyond next week as September 2nd would have been the beginning of your last year of high school. My heart cannot go there yet. For now I will summon and enjoy the many summer memories of you and reminisce in what was. I look forward to each and every little sign you send my way and will continue to fill my pockets with as much as I can. Thank God for pockets.

Love you, Willy. Like a bus full of pockets.

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

Mother’s Day and Handmade Love

Handmade Love from my Will

Handmade Love from my Will

Sunday, May 11, 2014

 

 

Dear Will,

 

Today is Mother’s Day and my heart is heavier than usual. This is my third Mom’s Day without you and I miss you as much as the first one — it certainly doesn’t get easier. I am sitting on my bed in my own little world staring out of the window at the blue sky I’ve waited days to see, and my head is swirling with thoughts of you. Mother’s Day holds such special meaning; a day where moms are universally celebrated and appreciated for all they do for their children and families. When I think of Mothers Days past my heart smiles at the extra love that would find its way to me via breakfast in bed, crafty gifts made at school and handmade cards that oozed love in their heartfelt and sometimes misspelled words; the drawings, the “coupons” that promised jobs sometimes too big to be true, but with intent so large – all a sign of how big that love was. Those cards will always be treasures for I have kept them all and the gift of all those uneven folds of paper are so incredibly priceless now. I feel sad knowing that today, again there will be one card missing.

 

Mother’s Day will never be the same without you here. I am so thankful for the big box of handmade cards, the table you made for me in grade 7, and the countless memories of cold toast, cereal, watered down coffee and smoothies in bed; of clay creations, glittery picture frames, yarn weavings, tissue paper flowers…

 

One thing will never change, Willy — I will always be your mom and you will always be my son/sun.

 

Lulab and missing you so very much,

 

 

 

Momxo

A New Year. And, I Am Here.

My boys.  My everything.

My boys. My everything. December 2004

January 11, 2014

Dear Will,

This is my first letter to you in 2014, and though you may be wondering why it took eleven days to finally put my words here…  well, Willy, it was just really hard for me.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Geez, Mom.  You were never at a loss for words.  Gosh, there were days when I wished it were so, but c’mon, Mom, this never happens to you!”  Truth is, I have thought about you every minute of every day; I have talked to you out loud, whispered your name, looked for you in the sky, in the snow, and in every nook and cranny of life.  Most times, Will, thankfully I found you staring right back at me.  I have taken you with me to Fernie and Montana and back, tucked you safely in my heart where you occupy an indelible space; a space every mother creates for her children when they go to heaven without their moms, no matter how old they are.  These past 11 days and the days over Christmas have been especially difficult.  I woke each day wondering if this might be the day that I could find the strength to put some happy words here… but day after day (even though I tried and tried) it just never worked.  As soon as I would open my laptop and type your name, my tears would fall and I would find myself paralyzed, staring at an empty screen.

This holiday season was our third without you and though I know that grief never follows a straight line from unbearably sad to sad, to a little bit sad, to a little less sad… I somehow wanted to believe, to hope, that maybe this year it would be a little easier.  Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  For me, Christmas without you was again unbearably sad.  Was it because I expected/hoped it would be a bit easier?  Maybe.  But then, how could it be?  I know in my heart of hearts that it will never be easier, never be less painful, or less empty.  What we’ve been told is that it will always be sad, but that we will get better at learning to live with the pain, the loss, the emptiness of not having you here.  Oh, like that makes it better?  Of course it doesn’t.

What I will focus on and remember is the wonderful things that we do in honor of you around the holidays.  How our tree is adorned with memories of you and of us spending our winters skiing in Fernie.  How your Christmas stocking, instead of being filled with gifts and goodies, sits underneath the most beautiful spray that is the centre of our Christmas dinner table.  The florist at the Farmers Market incorporated some of the blue and silver balls from the last two Christmas centrepieces into some cedar and evergreen boughs that hugged the same frosted hurricane vase with the white candle that is your light in the middle of all of us at Christmas.  Will, it was really beautiful.  (Thank you, Sandy).  How under the tree is a gift for each of us from you, our Santa now.  And how the last gift we open is a special family gift from you — always a jigsaw puzzle for us to work on together.  I’ve yet to open the box, but think I might just do that today.  Somehow seeing 1000 puzzle pieces spread out all over the dining room table and knowing that it’ll take us a month or two to complete finds me smiling.

There were some extra-special gifts under our tree this year and all were in honor of you, Will.  I’d chosen two of your t-shirts, one each that held special memories for your brothers.  For Ben, your black and gold LINE t-shirt, the one you’d won the summer you both went to Windell’s.  I remember Ben always saying that you’d win everything and that he was never that lucky.  For Justin, I chose your purple Fernie Freestyle Ski Club t-shirt.  You know the one… you had a few because you’d worn out the first one.  There are many pictures of you wearing this t-shirt under your flannel shirts.  It was part of the classic “Will uniform”.  Annette kindly sewed them into pillow covers (Thanks, Annette) and now your brothers have them on their beds.

Justin's gift to all of us.  Amazing!

Justin’s gift to all of us. Amazing!

The other was a gift for each of us from Justin.  He insisted that his gift be the first one we opened on Christmas morning.  Inside his beautiful wrapping (he might need a little work on this?) each of us received a mug that Amy had made and the two of them had designed.  On each mug was the wolf that you’d drawn in kindergarten.  I was unaware that transposing a real image was even possible on a handmade piece of pottery and am still in awe that he would know how precious this gift would be to all of us.  They are priceless and I know I will treasure them forever.

The careful thought and love that we put into our Christmases without you is a beautiful testament to you and how much we miss you and love you.  As your mom, I am so proud.  You and Dad and your brothers are my everything and I couldn’t love any of you more than I already do.  Nana and Pa shared Christmas with us this year and that was really special, too.  It was quiet and had its share of laughter and tears like every Christmas going forward undoubtedly will.

New Years was again sad all over again.  Though I tried to be more social this year, I found myself alone in my bed before the stroke of midnight wishing more than anything that the pillow I was holding was you.  As midnight approached I could see the fireworks light up the darkness, hear them explode with loud bangs.  I could hear the music and the laughter and the words “happy new year” being shared from one to another outside the window.  Where I found comfort was snuggling with Dad and my pillow under the covers with my eyes closed remembering how much you loved staying up till all hours on this magical night to ring in a new year.  I’ll try again next year and maybe it will be different.  Or maybe it won’t.  It will only be what it will be.  But for now, the holiday has passed and I’ve settled once again into my routine.  I am back at school, back in my community, back amongst friends and family where I can be me; where it feels safe to shed a tear or two, even when asked one of the questions I dread most this time of year, “How was your Christmas?”

So now, here I am 11 days in to 2014 and I am here.  I know you are here with me, too, Will.  There are gobs and gobs of snow outside; the biggest blanket of Willy we’ve had in a long time!  Is it a coincidence that Mr. Blue Sky has just played on the radio?  Maybe.  But I know it’s you.  And earlier this morning, I found a loonie and two quarters in the couch cushions while looking for my knitting needle.  Another coincidence?  Maybe.  But again, I know it’s you.  I think I will open that jigsaw puzzle today.  Help me, Will, I think this one’s gonna be a doozy.

Love you, little blue.  Like a bus and the beauty of every single, magical snowflake.

Momxo

Thanks, Willy

Thanks, Willy