Robins and Brown Bunnies…


Will's Memorial Rock - Fernie, BC

Will’s Memorial Rock – Fernie, BC

Sunday, April 17, 2016


Hey Willy,


Spring has sprung and with it comes all kinds of new “hellos” from you. The season of robins and brown bunnies, budding trees and tulips, open windows and shoes without socks, raking the grass of remnants of last fall after a winter season of snow and the excitement of putting out the patio furniture… its just gotta be Spring. But, wait… It can’t be spring until I have my picnic lunch with you and Dad up at your memorial rock in Fernie. Then it will be spring.


Last weekend your favourite mountain closed for the ski season and on the Friday, Dad and I had our picnic with you under a cloudless sky on the bluest of bluebird days. It was my first visit to the rock since last summer and a day I’d been longing for for some time. Because I’m not able to ski with my hurting knees, Dad made arrangements for one of the ski patrollers to give me a lift up to your magical place on a snowmobile. I believe there’s nothing that the Resort wouldn’t do for you and us; time and time again they’ve gone above and beyond any expectation we could have ever had and we are ever grateful. A “thank you” never seems enough.


Each time I meet someone affiliated with the Resort they seem to already know you and, well, it happened again. The patroller who gave me the lift told me that when he was training as a groomer three years ago he was taken to your rock late one night while in the snow cat. It was there that he learned your story and about your passion for skiing and for Fernie. He expressed how sorry he was to hear about your tragic passing and told me that you’re like a legend, Will; a little, blue-eyed legend. It’s not every day that someone gets to be remembered like that!


Dad and I sat with you at the base of your rock and had our lunch. We shared some quiet conversation and some “remember whens” and some silence too. During our silence I ran my fingers over the face of your rock feeling the etching of every letter of every word that we so carefully chose to have engraved on it. In my silence came flashbacks of happy times with you and then sadness for what will never be. And then a reminder of why we chose a memorial rock – a rock is forever, Will, and so are you.

Our family message engraved on the back

Our family message engraved on the back

Now it is spring and now I can focus on all the little hellos that you are sending my way; the robins and the brown bunnies, the budding trees and the tulips, open windows and shoes without socks…


I miss you, Willy, and I love you. Like a bus full of robins and brown bunnies and a big, beautiful forever rock.





A Room With a View


The view of Polar Peak from your Memorial Rock

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dear Sweet Will,

I am writing you this letter today from a very special place. I am sitting on the concrete skirting that surrounds your memorial rock in a natural alcove that Mother Nature carved out in the forest, a short walk from the top of the Elk Chair on the mountain that you so lovingly referred to as your ski home. It is incredibly lush here; so beautiful, peaceful, and quiet. At this moment the only sound would be me crying. I am here by myself for a bit and I couldn’t contain my silent tears so the mountain you loved is hearing me cry out loud. The pain of missing you so terribly sometimes comes out this way, Will. My tears started when I woke this morning. My head was still on the pillow as I reached over to the bedside table for my Will heart necklace. I held it in my hands for a few moments staring at it as if I was looking into your blue eyes. Your ashes sealed inside the silver heart pendant that I cupped in my hands before I secured the necklace around my neck is the most treasured piece of jewelry I own. It is the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I take off before I crawl into bed. I have cleaned and shined it with my tears on many occasions and this morning was no different.

Elsy, Kathleen, Sarah, and Tess at your Memorial Rock

Elsy, Kathleen, Sarah, and Tess at your Memorial Rock

I am in Fernie this weekend for our second annual moms, daughters, and dogs hike to your rock. Claire, Sue, and Lisa and their “oh so pretty” daughters who I know you remember (Elsy, Sarah, and Tess) and, of course, the dogs (Sophie, Oakley, Bella, and our Finn) are sharing this special weekend with me. This year, however, your most special friend, Kathleen, and the closest girl I have to a daughter, is also here. I asked her if she’d come along as my “guest daughter” and in a while they will join me here to honour and remember you. But right now is my time with just you and as I sit here with my iPad ready to begin my letter to you I can’t help but notice the beauty that surrounds your memorial rock.

Your rock in itself is incredible but where it rests is a little piece of heaven on earth. The ground is dark brown, rich and fertile, and still moist from the morning dew. The foliage and trees in all shapes and sizes and textures form a canopy protecting your rock somewhat from the elements that are part of a mountain climate. Some of the branches are tinged with yellow now as Mother Nature begins her transition from summer to fall. The ones directly overhead remind me of eyelashes as they flutter to and fro in the sunlight keeping me cool in the shade that they provide. There are still some glittery snowflake decorations hanging in the trees; remnants of the winter day the week before Christmas when Dad and I came here to specifically hang them. As I look down at my feet I notice bits of silver glitter that has mixed with the soil around your rock and my heart, even though my tears, somehow finds a reason to smile. I smile because I remember so clearly each day I visited your rock during this past winter while skiing. Inside my ski jacket pocket was a container that I filled with glitter and sparkles and each time I visited I would sprinkle them around your rock and the snow around it. Angel dust is what I called it. But what I notice most, Will, is the breathtaking view. This room with a view, your room here, is majestic and beautiful and a reminder that we are all so small amongst these huge mountains. However, your spirit and your presence here is much larger than all of us combined. I feel the warmth of your smile and I can hear your giggle (a giggle like no other and one of my favourite sounds ever), but what I long for more than anything else is to have you standing here with me, holding my hand. If only that was possible.

What I will take with me down the mountain today are the countless memories of you at this place you loved and this view from your rock. Mother Nature was kind to bestow upon us this breathtaking view of Polar Peak. Your room with a view is beautiful, peaceful, and tranquil…. just like you.

I love you little Blue. Like a bus. And I miss you bigger than the blue sky above your favourite mountain today. Know that the words we had engraved on the back side of your rock will be there for all time and will always ring true…

You are forever a part
of us and never alone.
We love you, Will,
and we miss you.

Love Mom Dad Justin Ben XO