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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One Year Ago … 11:58 pm

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.

Doug Siegel and Jonah on Mt Bierstadt Clear Creek County, Colorado August 2002

Doug Siegel and Jonah on Mt Bierstadt
Clear Creek County, Colorado
August 2002

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)

4 Responses to “One Year Ago … 11:58 pm”

  • I have been reading and re-reading this, trying to figure out what to say. I guess mostly I just want you to know I'm thinking of you. I weep for your loss. I am in awe of your strength. And I am reminded by every single one of your posts to appreciate — and make the most of — every single moment I have with the ones I love. Thank you for that. -xo

  • Shelley Halman:

    I'm envious of your strength. Every time I think about Mac I can't help but cry, and wish I could be as strong as he was so I could understand this, or at least accept it. But all I can do is wonder why this happened, how it could've happened, why he didn't refuse when G-d came to take him away. I'm jealous of your clarity, and I hope someday to be as wise as you and lucky as you have been to have such an amazing son.

  • Ivy Giserman:

    I am thinking about you and your whole family today. You are all such strong, brave people. Lots of love.

  • Iris:

    Dear Billy & Ellen, with each post I must thank you again for reminding us to cherish each day, to see the good, to find the joy, and always to make our memories be ones of good, even in the pain.

    Jonah's memory is for a blessing, for you make it so.

    Wish my arms could reach far enough to give hugs; {serious virtual hug} is what I can feel myself sharing,

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