One year ago, innocence was erased. The world changed forever. A single phone call, presumed to be nothing more than a late-night hello, brought word that Jonah was in a bad way, that an ambulance was en route. An hour later, a second phone call, presumed to be the one that would tell us about our son’s injuries, how long he’d be laid up, brought word that Jonah had died.
One year ago, innocence was erased. I’d always believed the world was a dangerous place and that much needed to be done to help those in distress. But despite all this, my own world was safe; no harm would come into my family’s life. One year ago, this all proved to be naive. We weren’t safe. None of us really ever are.
A photograph arrived to our home this week. It’s a picture of Jonah and his cousin Doug taking a rest as they climbed Mount Bierstadt in Colorado. Jonah was twelve years old at the time, and reports tell me he complained most of the way up.
I remember that guy. His sense of adventure wasn’t strong, nor was his sense of humor. He didn’t think people liked him, and except for Eisner Camp during the summer, there was very little that drew him out of the house.
But he was well-loved. Jonah had a mom and a dad who believed in him … deeply. He had a brother and a sister who adored him … unconditionally (no easy feat, because Jonah could be very difficult to live with). And while, admittedly, much of our hope was channeled through abundant prayers that he someday find his spirit and his heart, we offered endless advice and encouragement as best we could. We let that little boy know that if he’d just show the world the smart, funny, affectionate guy we all knew at 25 Oak, he’d have more friends that he’d know what to do with.
And damned if that didn’t work! Little by little, Jonah Dreskin found that heart and that spirit of his. He discovered the power of his personality, that he could not only energize a room through his music, through his theater, and through his goofiness, but he could also be a powerfully good friend, one with a listening ear, a supporting shoulder, and a voice filled with ideas of how to make things a little better for someone residing in that uneasy place he’d known all too well.
I think that’s why Jonah started to go by his middle-name. His inside name. His previously hidden name. Jonah had discovered the amazing stuff that had been inside him all along. And once he’d brought it out for all the world to see, there was no way it’d get put back inside. Jonah was his past; Maccabee represented his future. Both were him, inside and out, interior and exterior. And he loved that. And he changed his name to let us all know that life was heading in a different direction for him than it used to.
One year ago, innocence was erased. But not for Jonah. Not for Maccabee. He lived his life on his own terms. And he died with all of that intact. Jonah Mac had nineteen years. A fair amount of struggle along the way. But you know what? He reached the top of that mountain. The one we all have to climb. Or not. Some of us won’t ever insist on following our dreams. We’ll settle. And we’ll call that “life.”
One year ago, Jonah’s life ended. But not before he made it to the top of his mountain. And he loved being up there.
The world may not be safe. But the possibilities – for fascination, and delight, and adventure – abound!
I miss my boy. My heart breaks anew every morning. But while I wonder where his life might have taken him, I know where he’s been. And I’m so grateful his climb was a successful one. And I’m so proud of the mighty work he did along the way.
Zekher tzadik livrakha … the righteous ones are remembered for a blessing. That’s you, Jonah Maccabee.
Billy (11:58 pm)