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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The Jonah Mac Theatre – Part 2

PGT's Jonah Mac Theatre

Dear Jonah,

At the dedication of the Jonah Mac Theatre, before anyone could get in to see the new performance space (including us!), there were words that needed saying. Mom spoke about PGT’s years of wandering when there was no permanent home, and yet every kid in the program felt completely at home wherever Steven and Jill told them to show up. Having driven you and Aiden to my share of your auditions, rehearsals and performances (between you and Aiden, 22 shows), I have a pretty clear idea for myself what those years of wandering were all about.

So the words that I shared during the dedication are totally wrapped up in the point that mom was making. PGT took some work. You had to want to be there, wherever “there” was, because it was a constantly moving target. And Jonah, you certainly wanted that.

Here’s what I had to say:

PGT was where our boys grew up. When Jonah died I wondered, had I known he would only get to live for 19 years, would I have liked him to have lived those years any differently? When I thought about the time he spent at PGT – the friendships he enjoyed with the kids who went here, the support and guidance he received from the adults who worked here, and the exemplary lessons he learned about living life fully, fiercely and kindly – I felt sure I couldn’t have made any better choice than for him to have spent his time right here (wherever “here” happened to be).

And then there’s our own journey. Dr. Albert Schweitzer once wrote, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” How fortunate our family has been to have had so many friends by our side as we’ve navigated the turbulent ride that has been our grief for Jonah. PGT, Jill and Steven, and every family that has known us and opened hearts and doors throughout, you have helped us heal and rekindle the spark that has fanned into flames of love and passion and the deeply-intentioned action in Jonah’s name that has become The Jonah Maccabee Foundation.

This Jonah Mac Theatre is not being named for someone who died. It’s being named for someone who lived. While Jonah lived only a scant nineteen years, his was a formidable force in the world, especially here at PGT. He cared about himself but he also cared about others. He valued his own choices but he also wanted others to values theirs, to feel good about themselves and their place in their community. Jonah was a respected and much-loved role-model for so many here at PGT, and in designing and naming this theatre, what he was able to model for others will continue to be taught as a new generation of PGT kids learns about bravery, confidence and looking out for each other.

Aiden, Steven & Jill Abusch, Ellen & me

Aiden then cut a big red ribbon and we entered the space. Your space.

Jonah, it’s stunning and inspiring what Jill and Steven have done for PGT. And now, look at what they’ve done in your name. No one lives forever, that’s for certain. But when we’ve taken life by storm (as you have) and we earn the love and the respect of others for how we’ve lived (as you have), sometimes our stories get told and retold, and something of us does live on.

As your old man, I miss you terribly. But I’m also profoundly grateful you were the person that you resolved to become. Well done, kiddo.

Love you forever,
Dad

To the reader: In “The Jonah Mac Theatre – Part 3,” I’ll show you around. It’s quite the something to behold!


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