Our son William’s death has made me think again of pursuing your dreams, as he was doing flying his water bomber in Northern Alberta. I like to think that we encouraged all our children to follow their dreams, though I know we didn’t do a very good job at times. And I always encouraged my students to first follow their dreams, even though you ultimately need a job that pays the bills. We are at least a little comforted knowing that Will found his dream and died doing what he loved.
Will, his mom and sister on the trail above Lake Agnes
at Lake Louise, Banff National Park
But talking to my wife a few days ago we reflected that not all of us have a big adventurous (and dangerous) dream like Will had, nor do they stay focused on their dream for 14 years to get there, as he did. For most of us, and certainly at this stage of life, our dreams are smaller and less adventurous, and they change over time – but that doesn’t make them any less meaningful for us!
We think to ourselves it’s important to have dreams, and to pursue them no matter how ordinary they may be. Pursuing our own small dreams will be one way we honour Will.
Will and his brother overlooking Angel Glacier, Banff National Park
Organizing Will’s photos that I’ve posted over the past week has also reminded me how our bigger dreams are made up of all sorts of small dreams, small steps forward toward our bigger goals. In Will’s case there was the admission test to even get in to aviation school, the big step of heading off to college by himself, the first solo flight within a few weeks of starting, and the big exam after one semester when a pass was 90% and half the class flunked out.
Then there was the first job, the first flight as a working pilot, the first year-round job, and the big step up to twin engine flying. Finally, after 14 years and thousands of hours of air time there was applying successfully to be a water bomber.
Will and his brother fishing in Northern B.C.
We need to break down our dreams and take those single small steps toward them. For me it’s more photography and writing, for his mother, it’s creative fabric art. And for both of us, a lot more time with family! And our children and their partners have their own dreams too. We aren’t there yet, but the tremendous outpouring of support we’ve experienced and the support of our son and daughter, will get us there. It’s the only way we can honour William and the life he lived.
Will with yet another fish!
All these photos are scanned from slides from 25-30 years ago.