Don Murray

Terence Gorski

Rabbi Kushner

Elizabeth Mehren

Rabbi Grollman

Steve Nickman

David Tebaldi

Peter Sylvadia


Bert Stern
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Losing Jonathan
By Don Murray (Boston Globe writer and Pulitzer Prize Winner) Spinner Publications

I grew up in the Pollyanna generation in which we were taught not to speak of the unpleasant. It was not in good taste. But indoors, behind shutters and shades drawn, we spoke of the deaths, diseases, disloyalties, cruelties, and behaviors we tried to keep hidden from the neighbors. We had an elemental need to hear and tell the stories that revealed and explored the human condition.

Few stories are as significant as the death of a child, and we need to hear the stories of those who have suffered our deepest fears. Robert and Linda Waxler tell the story of the long painful loss of their son as he became addicted to the heroin that finally killed him.

They practice the strange kindness of telling their story with honest, specific details. And the more specific they are, the more individual their story, the more universal it becomes.

The magic in story telling lies in the fact that we tell our personal stories and each reader brings their own living to the reading and collaborate in creating the story they need. Each story is different as it is tuned to each reader's life. This book will not only help those who fear drug addiction in our children and their death before us, it will help all of us as we live out our fragile lives.

The story teller names our fears. That naming is important. Once something, no matter how terrible, is named we can begin to deal with it.
The real dragon is better than the imagined one. I learned this in infantry combat and in the loss of a daughter.

A death, even one as terrible and out of proper order as Jonathan Waxler's, can be survived. The father and mother and brother and friends -- many in Jonathan's case -- have to go on with their living, helping each other and reaching out to strangers.

In reading this book, I retell my own story, and in doing it I reinforce what I have learned, discover new truths and prepare myself for the other losses which are inevitable. To live without knowing how temporary life is, makes our living trivial. There is no true life without death, no light without dark, no hope without despair, no companionship without loneliness.

Ultimately, this isn't a book about death, but about living filled with wisdom that has been tempered by loss and pain. In allowing the book to take them where life takes them -- to their other's son's wedding for example -- allows us to celebrate survival and instructs us to love and appreciate what we still have. Paying attention to the significant found in the insignificant becomes a daily memorial service for the children we have lost.

This book is for Jonathan and for each of us.



Advanced praise for the book:

Author of books on addiction and related mental health problems, president of CENAPS, Terence Gorski:

"Losing Jonathan is a beautifully written story, filled with fear and hope, reminding all of us how fragile our lives really are, how easily drugs can get us in their grip, how difficult the battle becomes. In this moving book of parental grief, Bob and Linda Waxler
teach us important lessons about love and death, family and tradition. It is an important story for all of us."

Author of "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" Rabbi Harold Kushner:

"A moving story, well told, of love, loss and pain."

"Losing Jonathan is a powerful and heartbreaking book whose tender wisdom touches all parents. If the book has a single shortcoming, it is the title-for thanks to Robert and Linda Waxler, we have not lost Jonathan. Their son's soul shines strong in a moving tribute that also offers an important cautionary component."

--Elizabeth Mehren
Author "Born Too Soon" and "After the Darkest Hour: A Parent's Guide to Coping With the Loss of a Child"

"Drawing compelling insights from the inner territories of their agonizing loss, Robert and Linda Waxler provide each one of us with understanding, wisdom, and courage to search for the redemptive healing possibilities of life's meanings. I cannot recommend it highly enough!"

--Rabbi Earl Grollman
Author, "Living When A Loved One Has Died"

Psychiatrist Steven Nickman, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School coeditor, "Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief":

"Robert and Linda Waxler have written a book that is easy and difficult to read. Easy, because they write simply and clearly with graceful references to English literature and the Jewish religion. Difficult, because they make us follow them through the grinding sequences of apprehension as Jonathan moves slowly toward death, then the long journey through the pain of final loss. Their diligence commands out attention."

"Bob and Linda Waxler's courage and willingness to share their story is a gift to all of us who have children at risk. And the truth of their story is that all our children are at risk."

--David Tebaldi
Executive Director, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities

Artist, author of covering painting "Cowboy Jonathan," Peter Sylvadia:

"Born not many years before Jonathan, I was struck instantly by the relatedness I felt. The painting for the cover came to mind easily. I was delivered to my own troubled youth, peering through the sparklers, swimming in a deep slate-colored Fourth of July night sky. The Waxlers reminded us of how difficult it is as youths to communicate when we struggle inside ourselves. Jonathan has left us a tremendous gift to learn from. Thank you, Jonathan. Thank you, Robert and Linda Waxler."


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