Forever WillStrong

by | May 20, 2020 | 0 comments

Hello friends….I’ve missed you!  It’s been well over two months since I’ve put up a post and I finally got the courage to sit down to try and put some words around at least the tiniest bit of what’s been flowing through my soul since Will died.

I’ve sat down, energetic and bursting at the seams with the need to write…but the ability and desire then quickly subsides like a retreating wave leaving only scattered remnants of thoughts and intention in it’s wake.

What started as a practical way to update our loved ones on the status of Will’s treatment evolved into a practice of writing as a way to invite you to join us on a powerful journey comprised of pain and suffering as well as love, hope and endurance.  I wrote as a discoverer of sorts, thrust in to the once-unknown and terrifying world of childhood cancer and you all stayed with us every step of the way and so this relationship was born.  You kept us filled up with your kindness and love and I wanted to give you more inspiration and assurances to pay you back but the business of grief is tricky and draining and left me unable to put together much more than a Picasso-like paragraph.  This evening I felt called to sit and write so here I am and here it is….

When Will left us in February there was some relief in knowing he was no longer suffering and the knowledge worked like a balm to provide cover over the gaping hole in our hearts at his absence.  We began busying ourselves with the tactical nature of arrangements.  Oddly, the deeply painful tasks of writing Will’s obituary, picking out his casket and burial outfit, making decisions with regard to his service were easier to address than eating and hydrating, starting a load of laundry, picking up a pair of shoes in the middle of a room or doing the dishes. The commonness of such activities painfully underscored we would never go back to existing in the same way we once did.

These subsequent months without Will have been beyond heartbreaking.  He was a vital part of our family and we all carry the weight of his absence in our own way.  We’ve missed him through two family birthdays, Mother’s Day and quarantine.  We’ve missed him through countless family dinners, game nights and walks with the dogs.  We miss him every day we wake and every time we try to sleep.  Our eyes frequently travel to his special spot on the couch, which then became the location of his hospital bed and the place where he took his last breath, just to make sure what’s transpired is real.

We step carefully around in our days and we move through them with a gentle hesitation as to not get too far removed from feeling Will’s energy.  We yearn to scoop him up in our arms, one more hug, one more chance to touch but his body is gone from us, slipped away more than three months ago.  We are, however, slowly and agonizingly coming to.  We are starting to allow hope and happiness to move back in and we feel Will cheering us on and letting us know he has our backs, just like he said he would.

There was a time, before, when Will was just a teenage boy, coming into his own….who had plans for his future, who was excited about high school and eventually getting his drivers license.  Who wanted to start a business with his older brothers and who talked about how many children he’d like to have someday and what their names would be.  Who liked the simple joy of being with family and friends, beach vacations, warm summer nights, playing poker and Sunday Football.

A boy who, before he became a warrior and was forced to prove his mettle, before he inspired family, friends and and strangers alike, was simply a young kid with a kind and loyal heart, who was our precious son and brother.  This is the Will who inspires me now for he had it right all along….he just wanted to have some time enjoying his days while he still felt good and he was at peace with how his life would unfold.  Van Morrison said “these are the days now that we must savor and we must enjoy them as we can.  These are the days that will last forever, you’ve got to hold them in your heart” and I am assured that our Will is now whole and healed and watching over us and very proud.

Will’s story did not end in the manner we all prayed for – not because he wasn’t loved enough or because he didn’t fight hard enough, but because he was out of options in a tale that is too familiar for many others like him.  Will is not here because of an unfortunate and fateful accident of cell division and because there is not enough funding to bring better treatments to kids and young adults diagnosed with cancer.

Will finished his work here on earth – his time here was too short and he has left many who miss him deeply.  Now is the time to let my grief find expression and I thank Will for inspiring me to step in and work in his memory.  As many of you know, our family has started the WillStrong Foundation in light of Will’s battle against AML.  I have been slowly crafting the next chapter of the story to make a difference for kids and young adults who, like Will, deserve more.  WillStrong has already been bolstered by many generous donations and you will be hearing from me soon to properly thank you (my parents taught me to always send a note!!!) but in the meantime I wanted to just give a wave and say “we’re here” and to let you know how much we appreciate you all.

More details to follow but this about all the fuel in the tank I have for now.  I hope this finds you all well and staying healthy in the midst of what is, simply, an unbelievable time in our lives.  In so many ways….peace:)


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Will’s Stuff

While in treatment Will was often confined to his hospital room. In order to satisfy his creative and entrepreneurial nature he opened up a little online clothing business featuring his own designs. Soon after he began donating portions of his own proceeds to childhood cancer charities and in in this spirit we have kept the store open and ALL proceeds now go directly to WillStrong Foundation. Shop with purpose and help us help others!