Family struggles to accept Tim Bosma home, heartbreakingly, in a small box
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ANCASTER, ONT.—He came in a box, a small wooden square not much bigger than a shoe box.
Tim Bosma’s remains were returned to his family last week and, more than a month after he went missing and was found dead at a farm near Waterloo, he was buried Monday at a Hamilton cemetery.
“It was just a box. A small, tiny box. Just a little …” said a teary Sharlene Bosma, unable to finish the sentence, but making the shape of a box with her hands.
Sharlene spoke to the Toronto Star for nearly three hours on Friday, talking about her Tim, her daughter and what life has been like since he went missing May 6.
Tim was supposed to meet two men that Monday night, but they were late, so he was able to tuck his 2½-year-old daughter into bed.
Then two men arrived, on foot, to his large country home in rural Ancaster. He told Sharlene he’d be back soon. Or back in 20 minutes. She can’t remember his exact words, which would be the last she’d ever hear out of his mouth.
Tim left shortly after 9 p.m., headed out the door with the men who said they were interested in buying his Dodge Ram, which he had put up for sale a few weeks earlier.
“I gave him one hour,” she said. “Then I started calling and texting.”
When there was no answer she called police. Shortly after, a massive manhunt began. She gave police a description of the two men.
Sharlene didn’t say if the two men she saw are the same two men in custody. But she did say she’s confident with the investigation led by Det. Sgt. Matt Kavanagh.
Sharlene didn’t sleep for the first 48 hours and managed only a few hours as each successive night passed without her husband. On the evening of May 10 came what seemed like good news: police arrested Dellen Millard, 27, and charged him with the theft of Tim’s truck and forcible confinement.
Sharlene had hope.
“We thought this was it,” Sharlene said. “Police would interview him, then we’d found out where Tim was and he’d be home.”
She clung to the lack of a murder charge — which would come the following week for Millard and for Mark Smich, 25. But Friday night dragged into Saturday.
“We waited. And waited. And waited,” Sharlene said, but Millard wasn’t talking. “That was the turning point — just not the turning point we had hoped for.”
The massive manhunt turned to two properties owned by Millard, a hangar at the Waterloo airport and a farm in Ayr.
Around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, police told the Bosmas inside Sharlene’s home that they had found Tim’s remains. Tears and rage followed.
In the same living room where the news of Tim’s death was delivered, Sharlene oscillated between happy memories of her husband, sadness over his death and rage over all the unanswered questions.
“We still don’t know why this happened.”
But he’s finally home.
“Right from when he went missing, we wanted him back,” Sharlene said. “Now he’s back. But we’ll never have Tim back.”
Nothing has been normal for Sharlene: how her husband died, the national media attention it received, and waiting five long weeks for a proper burial.
She finds life difficult. There are so many questions, and so few answers.
“The only thing that really gets me up in the morning is my daughter,” Sharlene said, “because that’s what she needs, so I have to.”
She has a group of friends she calls her “babysitters” who come over, help out with her daughter and keep her company.
“I’m rarely alone,” she said. “I just can’t be alone. Not right now.”
The community’s outpouring is still evident. A large container full of greeting cards sits in her spacious living room. There are still some flowers out near the road.
Even if she tries, she can’t escape memories of Tim, partly because of the house they built. Sharlene designed it with her mother, while Tim helped build it with many of his friends.
But it wasn’t finished yet. There is the front walkway that Tim was going to build this summer. There’s still only one phone jack in the house — Tim forgot to wire the house for phones. And the doorbell, which Sharlene just found in the basement on Monday, was never installed.
Their kitchen table, which became headquarters for the massive social media campaign when Tim went missing, is a “piece of junk.”
“Tim really loved that table,” Sharlene said. “And he didn’t want to get a new one.”
He was also cheap. When he went for groceries, he bought no-name everything. Ketchup, mustard, anything, Sharlene said.
“See, we saved so much money,” he would tell Sharlene.
And Tim was a two-sock kinda guy. He doubled up on socks, two on each foot, before throwing on his work boots. He’d take both those socks off and plop them on the coffee table that now sits clean in the living room.
“He’d keep the socks together, so I’d have to pull them apart,” she said. “It drove me nuts.”
Then Tim would turn on CNN and, within five minutes, he’d be asleep.
But what Sharlene will miss the most is the family’s Sunday afternoon drives. The couple would go to the Ancaster Christian Reformed Church in the morning, then drive around for hours, chatting about life and what they planned to do with it.
They had planned for their annual camping trip to Darien Lake in New York state on Victoria Day weekend. They had talked about working on their house — Tim recently “got a great deal on some rocks” that they planned to decorate their landscape with.
They even spoke about death. They wanted to be buried beside each other. They wanted caskets. And they wanted a traditional viewing ceremony. If Tim died first, Sharlene wanted one last touch. One last time to stroke his face. And one final kiss on his forehead.
Sharlene Bosma never got that. She got a box instead.