April 9, 2024
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A Mother’s Farewell

Editor’s note: Mirlana gave this hesped for her son Donny at Yeshivat Sha’alvim on Sunday, May 2.

I want to start off by thanking everyone who made this day possible. I’ll probably forget someone so I won’t mention any specific names, but from the moment word went out on Thursday that Donny was missing we had everyone and anyone possible—family and friends near and far, the yeshiva, rabbanim, our community rabbis and people frankly we had no clue searching for him for hours. The enormous amount of Tehillim groups, rescue chats that were occurring and the logistics to even get here took an army of the most special people.

The fact that Sha’alvim insisted the levaya and shiva take place here is a glimpse into how special Sha’alvim and Donny are. They respected and loved Donny in less than a year; they knew him and knew the day should be with complete dignity as he deserves. I thank you for making this happen for him and for our family from the bottom of our hearts. Whoever arranged things both in Israel and back at home we appreciate you all more than you’ll ever know.

Donny, my special, sweet and wholesome bechor. I have so many questions, but little to no answers. But what I do know for sure is you are loved by SO many. The impact you have made on hundreds of people is remarkable. You really had a positive effect on klal Yisrael that will never be forgotten. Daddy and I couldn’t be prouder to call you our son. From a very young age you never ceased to amaze us. When you were a toddler you only let daddy leave the house if he said he was going to shul. You loved to daven and started going regularly when you were only 7 years old. Often it was you that woke up Daddy to make sure you both wouldn’t be late. You volunteered to lein, help in various shul functions, and volunteered in high school for I-shine, a program for kids who had siblings with cancer. You were an amazing son, grandson, nephew, cousin, student, friend and sibling to your sister and brother. We always knew how wonderful you were but over the last 72 hours the countless stories I have heard about you from people I know and even those I don’t show how you touched so many lives with your kindness and huge heart. While this pain is more than a mother can bear, I am really not alone. Our entire community, our rabbis and rebbetzins, other communities, your entire family, friends and yeshiva are grieving your loss too. You have a smile that was so bright, a laugh so contagious and a neshama so pure.

There was no one who didn’t love you and didn’t want to be close to you. I loved when we had the opportunities to be together as a family, and even more special when it was just us two alone. Although last year with COVID brought on its own challenges, it allowed us to be together more as a family playing games, doing puzzles, just hanging out and talking—those times I will cherish forever. This year, our Friday 8:30 morning phone calls I looked forward to all week—they were literally the highlight of my day. I loved hearing about what you were learning and doing in yeshiva; you always sounded so happy. Even when you had COVID you didn’t complain. In fact, you rarely ever complained or asked for much. You were easy to please and always looked for ways to help others and learn more. In truth, you taught me more than you will ever know. I am a better person because of YOU. But Donny, I wasn’t done learning yet; you were taken away from me too soon. I still need you by my side. While I have this gaping hole, I will try to stay strong because that is exactly what YOU would want me to do. And Akiva and Gabriella who love you and miss you so much can help fill some of the void because, like you, they too are remarkable children and you were their role models to whom they quietly emulate and will continue your legacy.

Donny, I must ask you for mechila: I want you to forgive me please for anything you wanted me to do that I didn’t get to. I wish I was a better mother to you and never missed any of your phone calls and spent more time with you. Although we texted often, I regret not talking to you more and not hearing your sweet voice since last Friday morning, a week too long, which will now be a lifetime. But I promise there won’t be one day that goes by that I won’t think about and love you with my heart and soul. And all of the Tehillim that were said just for you by thousands of people, and what I took upon myself to help find you I will continue to still do so. Because of you I will actually continue to better myself and grow into a better individual. You will always be a part of my daily routine and we will learn together despite you being in Shamayim.

Donny, I love you so much and I miss you more than you can possibly imagine. What I wouldn’t do to give you just one more hug and kiss and to hear your soft voice—but for now I look forward to the day we will rejoice together again במהרה בימינו!

By Mirlana Morris

 

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