That Small Line


“Peter can now roll over. He has started to reach for things. He can hold a rattle and likes to sit in his infant bouncer-walker. He continues to coo and smile when talked to. He enjoys all of the children. He is quite a chunk and yet he is not fat.”

-Willison Family Newsletter

Peter Willison came into Emilie Willison-Bice’s life on July 8th 1984. Emilie is Peter’s fourth oldest sister. Here’s how Emilie’s life was changed because of Peter.


Peter Lee Willison

July 8, 1984 – February 25, 2014


You see that little dash right there? Yep, the one after 1984 and before February. That small, seemingly insignificant line is supposed to signify all that once was Peter. You see that small line? Well, that’s when I knew Peter. I mean, I don’t really remember when he was born or when he took his first steps or when he lost his first tooth. But what I do remember is the best friend that Peter was to me.  Peter was only 1 year, 4 months and 1 day  younger than me. So all the life that I remember has had Peter in it.  I remember riding our Big Wheels and bikes in the front yard together singing at the top of our lungs “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” (which was later switched “99 Bottles of Sprite on the Wall” per my dad’s request), I remember making mud pies complete with poison berries, I remember sliding down our stairs with pillows and mattresses, playing obstacle course and going on wild adventures like catching bullfrogs and toads down by the creek. All of these memories…Peter was there. He was my sidekick…or I was his. But these are more than memories that I have with Peter growing up. You see, each moment I had with Peter helped to form and shape me into the person I am today.

I remember when we got pet ducks. We were probably in late elementary school or perhaps in middle school at the time. As the ducks began to grow I was somehow able to con Peter into building a pond with me for our ducks. We scoped out our backyard, found the perfect spot under a big tree, and began to dig. Well, we didn’t really think about all it would entail to dig a pond under a tree that had been there for 20+ years. About a foot down into digging we were running into knots of roots. Not just roots that could be pushed out of the way but roots the size of your biceps. But that didn’t stop us. We kept digging but the further down we got, the harder the soil was. We didn’t give up, we just began to expand the pond outward. We worked for weeks. We could picture the ducks loving life in this “pond”. At the prime of our digging we probably had a hole about a foot and a half deep and 5 feet in diameter. Well, needless to say it was a feeble attempt. After slaving away in our back yard for a month or two, we came home one day to find it filled in and covered with a bed of wood chips that my mom had trucked in earlier in the week. We were heartbroken but I think we always knew that it was not meant to be. But that didn’t stop us from dreaming.

Around this same age I remember Peter trying out for the basketball team at school. Peter LOVED basketball. He loved watching it, he loved the players, and he loved to play. When Peter tried out he gave it his all but you have to understand that this was during Peter’s awkward years where he still had baby fat and wasn’t that athletic despite trying. Sadly Peter didn’t make the team. He was devastated. Most of his friends were on the team. But rather than give up on the sport altogether, Peter would come home every day and practice. Every day after school I remember him being out side for hours working on the same skills until he had them mastered. Pick and roll, layups, 3 point shots, doing that thing where you spin the ball on one finger. I remember his determination. He was outside with a basketball for hours every day for the next 4 years. You see he never tried out for the basketball team again (even though he could have easily made it if he were to try out). He was truly brokenhearted that he didn’t make the team, but he still loved the game. He didn’t play to be on a team or to win anything or to even be recognized; no, he played for the love of the game.

There is no doubt that I wouldn’t be who I am without Peter Lee Willison. Peter taught me so much in that short dash of a life. He showed me to be carefree and imaginative, to never stop dreaming, to put all you have into what you’re doing, to always have a good attitude, to laugh and let others laugh at you, to believe in your talents and much, much more. More than that deceiving dash would lead you to believe. When Peter left this earth a piece of me left with him. I feel like there is a hole in me that can never be filled. One of my best friends is gone forever and I must learn to live without him. He is forever missed and this loss has not gotten any easier over time.