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.


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.