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

Windows to the Soul

Grade 4

Grade 4

Five Years Old

Five Years Old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grade 7

Grade 7

September 18, 2014

 

Dear Little Blue,

 

I was looking at photos of you yesterday. Something I do frequently. Before your passing, I’d look at the photos that grace the walls in our home daily, but it’s a different kind of “looking at” now. Back then it was a “walk by” look and now it’s a “stop and stare”. With my eyes closed I can recall every detail of every photo of you in our home as I’ve looked at them, studied them, held them to my chest and hugged them in many of my quiet moments. Something as ordinary as a photo is now so much more – each one a priceless treasure, a sweet memory of a time when you graced our home and our lives with your physical presence.

 

What I am drawn to first in every photo of you is your Willy blue eyes. My grandmother used to tell me that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Of course, there are obvious things that you can tell by looking into someone’s eyes… whether someone is sad or happy, scared or angry, excited or sleepy, and sometimes whether or not someone might be fibbing you. She was wise, my grandmother, and as a mother to three boys herself I’m almost certain that she got pretty good at deciphering all kinds of fibbing by looking into the eyes of her boys (one of them, your Pa) while they were growing up. It’s what moms do.

 

When I looked into your eyes there was more than the obvious emotions. It was like I was being drawn into your soul, into your very being and the deep emotions and beliefs that made you, YOU. There was a curious and sweet transparency to you, Will, and your eyes were the windows to all of it.

 

My favorite part of your blue eyes was the way they smiled at life. I didn’t need to see the corners of your mouth turn up to know that you were smiling as your eyes had their own special smile. There was a deep and magical pull to your blue eyes and the pull was the strongest when you were happy. Happiness spilled from them (and sometimes spit and vinegar when you knew you had someone’s goat… which also made you pretty happy).

 

I miss you, Will, and your incredible blue eyes… the windows to your beautiful soul. When I look at pictures of you now I wish that you could wink back at me, that you could give me a smile, and then in an instant I know that that isn’t possible. If you could, you would. Instead I look for your winks and your smile in the stars when they twinkle, in the snow when it sparkles, in the falling leaves as they flutter to the ground. I see your soul on the wings of butterflies and in the fresh morning dew as it clings to the green grass. Your soul is the summer breeze, the spring rain, the smell of fall, and the beauty of fluffy white snow in the winter (Did you get that, Will? IN THE WINTER!). Your soul surrounds me and sometimes it feels so palpable that I want to pinch myself. But I don’t for fear that I will be wrong. Instead I let myself get lost in you and I think of the happy times we shared and dream of the eternal happy times we’ll have when I see you again.

 

Love you like a bus with big, blue windows to your soul.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hood River and Bittersweets

 

Me and Dad, and Jim and Angie

Me and Dad, and Jim and Angie

Sunday, July 13, 2014

 

Dear Willy,

 

Last night Dad and I and Uncle Jim and Angie arrived in Hood River, Oregon to begin the part of our vacation that is so full of reminders of your last one with us. The sun was setting as we meandered along the I-84 following the flow of vehicles on the twisting and turning freeway that hugs the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. The evening sky was an incredible mix of orange and pink and the steep gorge landscape provided a dark silhouette that enhanced the beauty tenfold. I was lost in the beauty of the magnificent sky knowing that our long drive would soon be done when Mt. Hood majestically appeared in front of us. Earlier in our drive along the Washington interstate the peaks of Mt Rainier and Mt Adams were faintly visible in the distance and because they were distant they reminded me of an Ansel Adams photo where the peaks become less and less visible as they are further and further away. It seems nothing can prepare me for the in-your-face beauty and immediate flood of memories of what you described as the “funnest” place on earth each time I see Mt Hood stretch up to the sky. I remember vividly that same feeling when we drove to Hood River last summer though the sting didn’t stay as long.  While planning our summer vacation I wondered if seeing Mt Hood again would conjure up tears and the same feelings…. and what I can say now is that it still did indeed take my breath away all the while stacking up another bittersweet in the string of memories that are so precious to me now; memories that I will hold onto until my final moments in this life.

 

Dad doing what he loves so very much in Hood River

Dad doing what he loves so very much in Hood River

We will spend a week here enjoying what this play place has to offer – windsurfing for Dad, some biking for the two of us, “ball” time with Finn, nice dinners in and out and relaxing in the heart of this funky, “feel good” town. In a week we will head west to Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast — a place that also holds special memories for us. Last summer we’d planned to also visit there but abruptly had to head home when we learned that Ben was ill and in the hospital. In hindsight adding a trip to the first and only place you saw the ocean may have been too much to endure. Coming back this year seems a bit easier and though I remember looking forward to seeing Cannon Beach last summer, it seems my heart will be able to better tolerate the first déjà vu feelings of being in that special place we visited in what unbeknownst to us at the time would be your last.

But for now, Will, I will savor my time here in Hood River with Dad and your Uncle Jim and Angie. The four of us (and Finn) will make new stories and share old ones. Dad and I will tell them of the summer fun you had skiing on the glacier and of the look of awe on your face when you first saw the vastness of the Pacific Ocean at Cannon Beach. And, of course, we will miss everything about you.

 

I love you, little blue. Bigger than a bus and more than how much you loved skiing on Mt Hood. Watch over us and laugh with us, Willy. And please comfort me in my quiet times when I am missing you too much to hold back my tears.

 

Momxo

 

The Afterglow of a Bike Ride

 

Will's Friends Ride For Will!

Will’s Friends Ride For Will!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

 

Dear Will,

 

On Saturday, your Third Annual Ride For Will was held here in the community that was (and still is) your home. It was a beautiful day sandwiched between two rainy ones and my fingers were crossed, hopeful that you’d help out by keeping the rain away…. In the back of my mind I was preparing for a ten minute down pour at some point during the event, your signature “gotcha!” way of wanting to always have the last word, and in the end I was thrilled that you waited until we were safe inside.

 

Three years and three rides have yielded almost $150,000 to your Foundation and I am still awestruck at what happens on this day each June that we call The Ride For Will. People, young and old, show up with smiles and pledges, with hugs and support, not only to benefit your Foundation, but to honor you and show their support for Dad and I and your brothers. It is a memorable and most beautiful bittersweet day that renews our hope that you will never be forgotten. To me, there is something timeless about a bike. The simple pleasure it provides and the freedom it symbolizes is a right of passage in our neck of the woods for each and every child that grows up in this community. I will always remember the excitement that precluded any bike ride into Bragg Creek for icecream or candy and when you and your friends could do it without an adult ride-a-long, quite frankly, you’d hit the big time. Now, Will, your friends are driving to the city in their cars instead of packing their pockets with loose change to buy candy and icecream and that alone is difficult to accept at times. The passing of time is indeed a tough pill to swallow and I am quite sure it always will be.

 

What is magical about your Ride is that your friends and people who didn’t have the chance to know you show up with their bikes, adorned with WillPower bands, and I Ride For Will stickers on their helmets and bikes. They ride and stop at the refreshment stations and fill up on free candy and freeze pops, pedal to the school and back passing all of the familiar landmarks that were second nature to you. When I see your buddies on their bikes they magically become twelve again and though you aren’t there, YOU ARE. I am hopeful that you will always be with them in some way.  Whenever I see a boy on a bike, I am immediately thrown back into the many memories of you ripping out of the cul-de-sac with your pant leg tucked in your sock (if you weren’t wearing shorts!) in a hurry to meet a friend or two at the bike jumps or the soccer field or at a friend’s house to play. Those were the gifts of an ordinary day growing up here and memories that I will always treasure.

 

The Apres Ride BBQ and Silent Auction/Raffles that follow your Ride are amazing too. The love and support that shows up at our community Redwood House in burgers and icecream, in items donated for people to bid on and the lure of a raffle item is also magical. The entire day is beyond anything that I can describe and when I think back to three years ago how a few friends suggested and asked if they could organize a family bike ride for us in your memory I am overwhelmed at how it all started and how it has evolved and how it has continued…

 

It is no secret that you are in my thoughts every minute of every day, Will. My days begin and end with you and on Saturday, June 14th it was evident that you were on the minds of many who were there to support and remember and celebrate your life cut short. I know you were looking down on all of us with your big Willy smile and bluer than blue eyes. Since your tragic passing, it has always been our hope that something good could be born of something so tragic. There is healing for us knowing that in your memory what began as the simple pleasure of a bike ride has grown and taken on an identity of its own. The Annual Ride For Will allows us through your Foundation to make a difference in the world and that just feels right and feels good.

 

Now as I bask in the afterglow of Saturday’s Ride For YOU my heart feels a little lighter and oh, so full. You, little Blue, are quite a boy.

 

Love you like a bus on a bike, (and only you could make sense of that!)

 

 

Momxo

A Lazy Morning With and Without You

Our Little Blue… so many memories...

Our Little Blue… so many memories…

Good Friday, April 18, 2014

 

Dear Will,

 

It’s a(nother) dreary morning and because there is no place I need to be, there is no rush to climb out of bed. The only good I can find about this morning is that I have chosen to spend it with you. I lay here plumped up against pillows listening to Finn who has just jumped onto the bed for his regular morning visit and after he has unsuccessfully tried many of his nuances to get us up and downstairs he has given up and instead now lays beside me, stretched out, and snoring. Dad is on his side of our bed, reading quietly, seemingly also reluctant to get out of bed this morning. Writing to you seems just the right thing to do.

 

I remember how when you were little you’d sneak into our bed in the early mornings, climb in between Dad and I and wiggle your little body under the covers. I remember how you’d try to be quiet (?), how you’d try to put your little arms around my neck, but because they weren’t long enough they’d dangle uncomfortably in my eyes. I remember how I could feel your breath on my shoulder or my face and how sometimes you’d be so close I could feel your eyelashes brush ever so lightly against my skin. As you grew and as your brothers can attest to, the rule about crawling into bed with Dad and I changed to being able to build a nest beside our bed with no questions asked. We believed that no matter how big you were, if that’s where you needed to be then that’s where you needed to be. I remember so fondly the many early mornings and the many middle of the nights after a bad dream too, I’d hear you coming down the hall… the sound of you carrying and dragging all of your things from your room to our room, to my side of the bed where I’d wake, and in the darkness or early morning light I’d help you make your nest on the floor beside our bed. All the pillows you could find to lie on were carefully placed, then came your fluffy duvet pulled right off your bed, your little blanket (the one so shredded and torn that still gave you comfort into adolescence and that will always have a place in your memory box), sometimes a stuffy or two or ten and voila, the Willy nest was complete. Will, I swear there were times when your nest was more comfortable than our bed. I know this because I also remember as clear as if it were yesterday the many times when I’d snuggle with you in your nest on the floor for a few minutes before I’d crawl back into my bed.

 

I love these memories more than anything I own. But now as tears run down my cheeks I wish there were more. I wish I had memories of you into the next phase of your young life; a life that should have been but couldn’t be. Memories of you as a teenager I will never have. As a young adult and an adult there will be none. The many memories I do have are precious beyond anything I have because they are all I have. I know this to be true of all parents who have lost a child.

 

As I look out of my bedroom window having earlier watched the morning mist turn to rain and now the white fluffy stuff, I know it is you, Will, yet again letting us know you are here. It really is quite enough now, Willy. Please, please stop with the snow! A ray of sunshine, even a raindrop would be most welcome right about now. You know what they say, “it takes both the rain and the sun to make a rainbow” and though I look for you in all forms, a rainbow would be a most welcome Willy sighting right about now!

 

Love you, little blue. More than anything. Even a bus.

 

Momxo

The Little Blue Ball and You

The little blue ball on the hard to reach ledge

The little blue ball on the hard to reach ledge

February 2, 2014

Good morning, my little star,

Each day as I make my way down the stairs to the main floor of our home (more times than not with dirty laundry in my arms) I am taken aback by the little blue ball that still sits way up high on the second story above the front door on the ledge under our front feature window.  How did it get there?  Well, I know that YOU know and I know that it wasn’t deliberately “placed” there as you can only reach that narrow ledge with an extendable ladder.  It “ended up” there as a result of a bad shot in the mini sticks hockey shoot-out that occurred regularly (sometimes, daily) on the landing at the top of the staircase to the second story of our house.  The place where the space opens up to a high ceiling, few walls, and a white wooden railing that was the only stopper to that little blue ball ending up downstairs on the floor… or, less likely, on the ledge above the door where it still sits.  I remember the countless times I asked that you boys take the game downstairs where it didn’t matter where or how the ball was hit; downstairs where I could close the door to the basement so I didn’t have to hear the play by play of each shot and the thunk, thunk, thunk, of feet running up and down the stairs to retrieve that little blue ball.

What I hear in my head now when I see that ball and what I remember more than anything else is the sound of boys giggling with delight at the simple fun of hitting a little blue ball (a ball soft enough that it couldn’t possibly damage anything) with little hockey sticks.  It’s quite remarkable how things that used to drive me crazy back then speak to me in such a different way now.  How I long for those days where listening to you and your friends, or you and your brothers, just simply laugh because you were having fun.  Its true that in between the laughter there were negotiations and arguments on fair play and sometimes stoppage of play because one of you would get hit with the stick and have to rub your hands together while jumping up and down to shake off the pain.  I also remember the same repeated question I’d get when I asked you to move the game downstairs… “awe, Mom.  Why?  We’re not wrecking anything and its “funner” here.  The shots are more fun when they can go further.”  When I’d respond with a more serious and stern voice that what I needed (wanted) was silence, then and only then, was there compliance.

the little blue ball

the little blue ball

Seeing that little blue ball now conjures up a different feeling.  And with it the yearning that if only I could have those days back, relive those precious moments where the sound of boys laughing and giggling was what really mattered, I’d take them back in a heartbeat.  I have no desire to retrieve that little ball from where it now sits because it is a reminder of you and that makes me smile.  It took a long time before my tears turned into smiles upon seeing that little ball but somehow even through the tears I knew that I didn’t want to take it down, that in time it would become another sacred memory of you.  And now that’s what it is.

From time to time  (ok, once) I had to maneuver the long, awkward (and scary) extendible ladder into the house and get my butt up there to dust that ledge.  That was a while ago and I’ll need to do it again soon, as the dust seemingly multiplies faster in the places where you can’t reach easily.  Once up there I put the little blue ball in the pocket of my sweatshirt while I “swiffered” the dust onto the floor below.  Before I carefully placed the ball in the exact same spot where it landed on that mini sticks game day, I cupped both my hands around it and brought it to my face.  I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and planted a kiss on it as if it were your cheek.  That place is now home to that little blue ball.  And I’m pretty sure it always will be.

Love you, little blue (hah!).  More than a bus on top of a tall, hard to reach ledge.

Momxo

The Gift of a Photo

Friends Forever:  Calvin and Will at age 5

Friends Forever: Calvin and Will at age 5

October 27, 2013

 

 

Dear Will,

 

Last night Dad and I went to the Lovenuik’s for dinner.   Your winter ski bud and summer beach bud, Calvin, was there too, choosing a night at home instead of a night out with his friends.  It was really great to see him, Will… though I wished more than anything that you were with us and that you and Calvin could have been hanging out together like it just should be.  I remembered when the two of you first met – at the daycare at the base of the ski hill in Fernie — ski buddies before you even knew how to walk.  The two of you, only 3 weeks apart in age, became great friends seeing each other every weekend during the winter months in Fernie for almost all of your “much too short” life.   Winters full of dinners and play dates, swimming at the aquatic centre and building snow forts on the Lovenuik’s front lawn until you boys were frozen or wet or it was time to go home to bed.  On many of those weekends, you and Calvin would go from building a snow fort outside to building a nest in the linen closet inside where the two of you would sleep.  I find myself both smiling and shaking my head as I write this, wondering how the heck that could have been comfortable.  Then, in the same breath, I remember that for boys, “fun” seems to always trump “comfortable”.

 

As the two of you grew not much changed.  Sure, your little one piece ski suits became trendy ski jackets and cool pants, your skis got longer, your feet grew bigger, and building snow forts turned into building ski jumps.  You no longer needed your dads to take you swimming for you were old enough to go on your own, the Disney DVDs disappeared replaced by endless hours of watching ski movies over and over and over.  Your friendship circle grew too, encompassing more boys your age, all of them members of the Fernie Freestyle Ski Team; boys that became part of a world that you loved so much.  Ski movies, stickers, ski mags, toques, posters, park passes and helmet cams became the norm.  What never changed though and what I believe would still be true was how much the two of you enjoyed each other’s company and how much your friendship meant to one another.

 

Seeing Calvin last night and how much he has grown is another bittersweet for me.  (You’d love his hair, Will!)  But, what I will never forget is what he gave to Dad and I after dinner.  He’d come from his bedroom with a photograph (the one above); a photo of the two of you when you guys were about 5.   Two little boys, hamming it up for the camera and as I looked at it my heart went back to that time and to that happy place.  This photo is a treasure; a gift so precious; a gift that’s worth can only truly be understood by a parent who has lost a child.  Sadly, there are no recent photos of you, the last one taken the day before the accident.  Photos of your 12½ years, though they will never be enough, are all we have now and each time I see one that I haven’t seen before my heart wants to take a picture of it so it will always be there.  I will always appreciate another photo, another story, another remembrance of you.  More memories for the memory box that will never be full enough.  Which makes me think… maybe I should put it out there to all who knew you to please share any photos of you that they may have.  All of them are treasures and memories that would mean the world to us.

 

It was nice to spend an evening with good friends and to see your friend, Calvin, too. I am ever grateful for the “gift of you” that he sent us home with.

 

Love you little blue.  Like a bus.

 

 

 

Momxo

 

Fifteen Candles and Four Balloons

Will's 12th Birthday

Will’s 12th Birthday

October 14, 2013

Dear Will,

Today is your birthday and another one we will celebrate without you.  You’d be 15 years old today and I can’t help but wonder what you would look like?  Handsome as ever I already know, but it’s not enough.  Yup, your eyes would still be blue as ever, but would your hair be short or long?  Long, I am guessing, like your brothers and whatever Ben had you’d want to have too.  How tall would you be?  Well, taller than me for sure for you were almost as tall as me 2 ½ years ago.  You were on your way to being tall like Justin.  Loud and proud?  Oh yeah.  Would you still be super athletic and active?  I think so.  Big feet?  Oh yes. Your feet were already big.  I wonder what your voice would sound like now?  I still remember clearly what it sounded like at 12 ½ but you missed the phase of squeaks and intermittent highs and lows that come with being a teenage boy and a man cub.  There are many things I don’t know now; things I can only imagine to be true about you.  I imagine that you’d still love bacon, and ribs, and candy.  But, would Skittles still be your favourite?  I’m not sure, but I doubt very much that you would ever say no to a handful of candy in any form!  I imagine winter would still be your favourite season and snow still your favourite “toy” because freestyle skiing was so much a part of you.

Will's 6th Birthday. With his big brothers, Justin and Ben

Will’s 6th Birthday.
With his big brothers, Justin and Ben

Today I will set the table and tie four helium balloons to your chair — two green (your favourite color) and two blue (the color of your eyes).  We will light a white candle and place it in the middle of the table and we will honor you with what we imagine you would still love.  As we have done and will continue to do for everyone in our family on their birthday, we will have your favourite meal.  I will make ribs and remember how I’d have to remind you that dinner was more than just a plate FULL of ribs.  I’ll smile remembering how you’d negotiate taking the smallest amount of vegetables and rice or potato to keep me quiet.  We will have an angel food cake with whipped topping and strawberries and remember and laugh at how you’d only want the cake part, no topping, and perhaps maybe a few strawberries.  I shake my head and smile now remembering how, away from the dinner table, you’d flatten and squish a piece of that cake into a bite-sized morsel and how you’d say you just loved it that way.  How coincidental it seems now that your favourite cake was angel food?  Hmmm.  We will light fifteen candles and blow them out making our own wish — our wish that you were here so that we could sing happy birthday to you and wish you many more.  All the stuff that we took for granted back then and no longer do.  We’d shower you with gifts and handmade cards and watch you open the others from your grandparents and extended family.  Now there are no gifts and cards. Instead, Dad and I and Ben and Justin will write you a personal message and each of us will tie it to one of the helium balloons on your chair. After your cake we will go outside and on our own time and in our own little space in the backyard we’ll let them go, sending our love and our wishes up to you. Watch for them Will and please make the stars appear a little brighter and give them a special sparkle tonight so we know that you got them.

Miss you little blue.  My heart aches more than usual today…if that is even possible.

Momxo