“Jonah-Inspired” … a letter to Jonah from his Dad

“Jonah-Inspired” … a letter to Jonah from his Dad

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Dear Jonah,

So we’re running this campaign for the foundation. We call it “Jonah-Inspired.” The premise here is that when we award grants with the money that people donate, we’re selecting organizations and projects we think you yourself might have chosen, whether to donate money or to volunteer your time.

But where does that come from, this inspiration? Well, frankly, you’re kind of legendary. From the moment you disappeared, the stories about you began to surface. I mean, I knew you were a nice guy and all, but I had no idea how many individual lives you had touched in seemingly unforgettable ways.

Here are just a few of the notes that people left for you when they’d learned you were gone:

“You’ve been my hero since the day I met you.”

“I remember being a bit intimidated by you, because you were so enthusiastic. But then you ended up being so kind and gentle and nice, and you made me comfortable as a tiny, first-time NFTYite.”

“You were the sweetest and most genuine person I ever met.”

“You were the funniest and nicest guy around.”

“You always included people and tried to make people feel welcome.”

“You were always able to make me smile and laugh when I was the awkward freshmen and had no one to speak to.”

“You never stopped caring.”

“You made everyone feel welcomed and appreciated. You always went out of your way to make others happy and did not hesitate to put yourself out there for the greater good.”

Now, at the risk of nominating you for sainthood, these are some pretty impressive credentials, Boy. To be remembered for being kind, I can’t think of a higher honor than that. And I guess that’s the memory of you that we try to honor each time we ask people to entrust their donations to us and each time we spend that money.

God only knows what your life would have looked like had you been able to live it. We can only guess what that might have been. But with so many people sharing how much they valued your goodness (and the words above don’t even scratch the surface of what those who knew you have said about you) we thought it a pretty good bet that, some way and somehow, you’d be helping people.

So because you didn’t get a chance to do that, we’re trying to do it for you.

And I have to tell you, Boy, it’s such a great way to remember you. It’s been more than ten years since I last saw you, last spoke with you, last held you, and I still miss you terribly. But I’m also so incredibly proud of you … for all that you accomplished in your way-too-brief 19 years, and for how you inspire me to this day.

While it always made me feel good to help others, I love that it now makes me think of you every time. And that puts a smile on my face which, you’d probably agree, is kind of amazing considering you’re my child who died. How is it I can smile at all?

So “Jonah-Inspired” is your family’s way of saying not only do we try to increase goodness in the world in your memory, we do so because you lived your life that way. You inspire us to do something good with what remains.

I’m pretty good at moping, as you might recall. And I’ve certainly done my share of moping because you’re not here. But because you were here, Jonah, I consider myself incredibly lucky to be one of those dads who remembers his gone-child with a full heart and with a mission to continue making the world a little better every day I’m part of it.

Just as you did.

“You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten. You have touched the lives of many because of your kind heart.”

What father wouldn’t feel better knowing that’s how people remember his son?

Love you forever,

P.S. Please share in turning my love for Jonah into action. Donate to our December campaign, “Jonah-Inspired,” so that together we can ensure Jonah’s essential goodness never fades from the universe.

Billy“Jonah-Inspired” … a letter to Jonah from his Dad

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