While some knew him as Jonah and others as Mac, we all loved and respected him. And we miss him dearly.

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Be My Valentine

Jonah’s 18th birthday February 14, 2008

Jonah’s 18th birthday
February 14, 2008

How does one celebrate the 20th birthday of your child who died nearly a year ago? Well, “celebrate” isn’t exactly the correct word. But it’s not entirely off-base either. Jonah’s birthday was always a bit more fun for us because it took place on Valentine’s Day. Not that we did anything valentiny, but it just sort of always set the tone for the festivities … lots of energy, lots of fun, all directed toward this kid we so very much loved.

The last time I celebrated Jonah’s birthday with him was in 2008, his eighteenth. We weren’t together in 2009 because he was up in Buffalo, and Ellen, Aiden and I were in Washington (see this blog’s “Birthday Present” entry from June 6, 2009). Katie got to have a birthday dinner with him, though, so there was Dreskin involvement.

Today, as with much of our journey these last eleven months, we’ve each followed our own trajectories, checking in with each other, and coming together for a few brief but significant moments. I’ve spent much of my day listening to Jonah’s iTunes collection. He’d think it hysterical that Nickelback and Infected Mushroom have been dominating the airwaves around here. But there’s also been Bill Cosby and Avenue Q on there, so I’ve had moments where my ears could catch their breath. Katie checked in to tell us that Robin Leach was narrating one of those stupid shows about the rich and famous, and that we should tune in because Jonah loved doing impressions of Robin Leach. We all remember that well, and smile full-on when we think about it. Then, a short while ago, Aiden tapped on the second-floor window … from the outside. He had climbed out onto the roof, snow be damned, to spend a little time where he and Jonah used to hang out together. Ellen, waiting in the Raleigh, North Carolina, airport this morning, saw a man who looked nothing like Jonah but who was wearing the combination flannel shirt and hoodie jacket that Jonah had adopted in order to arm himself against the Buffalo cold. The stranger’s jacket was even more striking because this one was covered with black-and-white checkerboard squares. A nod from Jonah? Well, it sure got a smile from his mom.

Emails and Facebook postings have gently punctuated our day. Most have come from friends who wanted to let us know that we’re in your thoughts. But some really wonderful ones have come from a few kids, some much younger than Jonah, who wanted to share a memory or a story that connected them to him, strengthening this ever-unfolding picture of Jonah as someone who had grown into an exceedingly kind and generous young man. Still a clown (always the clown), but with a humanity about him that makes me so incredibly proud to be his dad.

Jonah, my boy, you did great. You left a legacy of goodness and of joy that would be worthy of someone who’d lived four times the years that you did. I am flabbergasted at the decency and grace you’ve managed to spread so far and wide. I had always hoped I would be a good model for you; now, you’re the model for me. Thank you for that.

Happy birthday, my son. We all love you. You very much are our valentine.

Billy

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