July 31, 2014 A Will To Live Birthday Blog
In just a few hours time, when July gives way to August, it will be my son Will’s 19th birthday – 15 on earth and now 4 in Heaven. The Trautwein’s will spend August 1st on the shores of Ocean City/Brigantine Beach NJ – one of Will’s favorite places to go. Both my family and my wife Susie’s family will be there. We will laugh and we will cry and we will remember all that is good about our Will.
Will Trautwein was born August 1st 1995, he took his own life on October 15, 2010
I’ve spent some time these past few days really thinking about Will – more than normal (if that is possible). I feel like I’ve learned so much about him since he’s been gone – and that surprises me. I wonder if he’s learned anything about me during this separation. I imagine he has – probably too much. As I was reflecting on him, I remembered an experience I shared with him and the rest of my family, about a week or so before he died. I had received an email message from “All Pro Dad,” a wonderful, non-profit organization, that helps fathers be the best that they can be. The email was titled “What does your family know about you?” There was a list of about 20 questions or so that the father’s were to ask their children in an effort to improve the dinner table conversations. I printed it out and brought it home – and that night as we all sat and ate together, I told the kids I had a test for them. They all looked at me a bit weird… but also a bit intrigued. I was encouraged, I had their attention (usual dinner table conversation was me saying, “how was school today?” and getting a 1/2 syllable response,) so I had high hopes for this exercise.
‘What was the name of the first pet I ever had growing up?” I said
– “Gwinkle” shouted Will. All the other kids looked at him like he was nuts – but he was right – long story – don’t ask.
“What is my favorite vacation spot?” I continued.
– “Ocean City” shouted Will -right again.
“Name an old girl friend of mine from high school” was the next question.
– “Val and in college I think it was Courtney right?”… Will was on a total roll – I looked at Susie and said “are you giving him the answers?”
“My favorite band” was next.
– “The Beatles” – this time all the kids got it right.
“My best friend growing up”
-“Uncle Tic!!” shouted Will.
“What is my degree in?”
– “Chemistry dad” – Will confidently replied.
We then went on and talked more about my childhood in Barrington IL and all my other buddies and silly events in my life. The family was so animated around that dinner table- we laughed hard and often. They made fun of me. They teased Susie about my old girl friends – and then, as always, made fun of my bald spot. We were all together and Will was leading the conversation – we were smiling – laughing – together. I was pleased and shocked at the same time.
I was far from finished with the All Pro Dad list and I wanted to continue with a new section that was basically called for the opposite approach. Now they had to ask me questions about them, to test my knowledge of their “favorites”. Unfortunately, it never happened, we ran out of time, life got in the way – dinner ended.
I still remember being so impressed and pleased that Will knew so much about me… I’m not sure why, but it really made me feel good – I remember thinking “wow, all this time I thought he wasn’t listening” – but he was – they all are – all the time – I’ve learned that – and I try to be continually aware of that. I guess I wish I would have listened more…..
Just 5 days later, Will was gone. We never got to continue that conversation and I regret that. It would have been an opportunity for me to learn more about him. Oh how I wish I would have listened more.
Now I sit here on the eve of his 19th birthday missing him more than ever. Wondering what he’s doing, what he’s thinking. I hope he’s proud of me – more importantly I hope he knows how proud I am of him. Yes, there is a sadness that will continue through tonight and into tomorrow, but like so many times in my “new normal,” I find also a wonderful peaceful feeling inside that Will is indeed with me – helping me – teaching me – making me better.
I know he’ll be with all of us on Friday…. August 1st is now a holiday at the Trautwein home – we celebrate “All things Will.” We each talk about our memories of him – they’re all different – I guess that helps us get to know him a little better – even today.
Will and his sister Holyn, August 2010 – his last birthday at his favorite place – I love this pic…
Happy Birthday Willy Boy! We all continue to carry your light of love. Every time someone says “Love ya man” – it’s my prayer that you “feel” it in Heaven….
Know that I Love You Man!
July 31, 2014