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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What Won’t Be Erased

Dear Jonah,

I was in the backyard today with Charlie where, while usually it’s only a quick pass-through as he makes his way from the back door to the front door and outside again, he found lots to interest him. So I got to linger a bit too.

My attention was drawn to the grass we tried to grow this summer in the well-worn spot that was at the bottom of the slide which was part of your recently-removed childhood swing set. It was time for the swings to go. It had been many years since you and your siblings had played there, and the play set itself was no longer trustworthy for a new generation.

One of my favorite pix ever, taken atop the slide (circa 1998).

Knowing all that, I still feel a tug from its absence. As kids, you and Katie and Aiden had spent some nice times out there, whether as a threesome or during backyard birthday parties. Even as you entered your teens, the swing set became an outdoor retreat for time alone or with friends.

So removing the play set erases one more source of my memories of you. Sure, I have pictures. And I love the pictures. But there’s emotional power to still having the real thing around. More likely, however, it’s part of my ongoing battle to prevent the universe from erasing you.

Remember Marty McFly’s fading photograph of his family in Back to the Future? He had one hour and 56 minutes to keep them from disappearing from his life and from history. So often, I feel like I’m holding a fading photograph of you and, for the rest of my life, I have to keep you from being the one to disappear.

You were such an enormous presence in our lives, Jonah. It remains a mind-boggling concept to think that you’ve really been removed from the universe. Nearly eight years gone and there are people I’ve met who don’t know you ever existed. I write to keep you from fading away. I record the pieces of your life that I don’t want lost. I’d very much like to not see your nineteen years reduced to a photograph on a shelf.

A few months after your death, Pixar released the film, Up. I, of course, had no idea that the premise of this adorable, moving film was the death of a beloved family member. But there I was, sitting in the movie theater, quietly crying as Carl Fredricksen struggled to navigate his days without the woman he’d loved.

For their entire lives, Carl and his wife had dreamed of traveling to faraway lands but never had the resources to do so. After his wife died, Carl was saddened by deep regrets. But one day, in the scrapbook his wife had created in anticipation of logging those faraway adventures, he noticed she’d placed photographs of all the local adventures they’d shared through the years: gardening, going out to restaurants, sitting on a swing together. She’d gotten her adventures; Carl just hadn’t realized that. The scrapbook ended with a handwritten note from her: “Thanks for the adventure. Now go have a new one!” Which he did.

Unforgettable (Jan 2009)

Jonah, thank you for the adventure. I don’t think it’s possible to forget the experience of having you in our lives. And I will continue sharing those memories as long as I keep recalling them.

But I’m trying to find my way to new adventures as well. I share them with our family. I share them with our friends. And I share them with new friends who never had the pleasure to make your acquaintance.

And always, I take you along with me, quietly tucked away inside my heart. Physical pieces of your life will go away, erased by those ever-eroding winds of time. C’est la vie. That is life, isn’t it?

But you, my sweet boy, as long as there are lazy late nights when, in the quiet, you come to mind and I have both time and patience to put word to paper, I will do my ever-loving best to keep the spirit of your smiling, mischievous, kind self if not alive then, at the very least, unerasable.

Love you forever,
Dad

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