Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dear Jonathan, By Samantha Kleier Forbes

September 8, 2009

Dear Jonathan,

I have written you so many of these cards – when you went off to Emory, when you graduated college, on big birthdays – always when things were changing in your life. I always wanted you to have a note telling you how proud I was and how well you were going to do where you were going. You were always my little baby – the baby of our family.

Sabrina and I begged mom and dad for so many years to give us a baby – you can imagine how excited we were when Mr Fountain announced over the loud speaker at Horace Mann for us to come to the principals office – I was in fifth grade, Sabrina in first, and you had been born! You were an angel from the beginning – gorgeous white blond curls, big blue eyes, you never cried. Our friends were also your friends because they knew you from when you were born and remember you as a cherub.

We were the luckiest family because we spent so much time together – mom and dad took us everywhere– summers in Atlantic Beach, remember the summer mom and dad built the pool -you were two and got chicken pox and had to walk around in a bath robe and mittens so your wouldn’t scratch – mom had to barette your long blond curls out of your face so they wouldn’t stick in the calamine lotion! The summer of the ghostbuster uniform, you used to carry your “proton pack” around the pool in 90 degree weather, zapping ghosts for us! riding our bikes in the board walk, digging sand castles in front of Clearwater, baked ziti at mother kellys, going to nunleys amusement park. – I remember watching once Miss America, and you said to me, Sabrina and Mom – you could be Miss America – and you meant it. You were always so sweet. In winters we had so many family rituals, driving to Pittsburgh every thanksgiving to visit Meme and Papa, listening to Neil Diamond and playing the exit game, you in the middle of the back seat bc you were the smallest, Christmas vacation always at Ceramore – how we all loved the water slides in the pools, the fancy buffet breakfast, the virgin pina coladas, spring vacations in Palm Beach and then our very favorite Boca – our home away from home. Fancy dinners in the dining room there in jacket and tie; in fact when mom and dad finally bought an apt in Boca, you STILL got to stay at the Boca hotel - - you said that was where the social life was and of course you were right!

Then you got too big to want to spend summers with the family and off you went to camp, where you were such a star - we’ll never forget visiting you one summer – you had never even been on water skies, and there you were in the freezing water, zipping around the lake and doing tricks on your skies. You had no fear. (as you know, you are the only one in the family with no fear!!!). During these years, how you loved your roller blades, and sneakers, always new sneakers, and 86th street – where all your favorite stores are. When you were 12, you said that when you grew up you wanted to live on 86th street – and oh how this world works– mom and dad just signed a lease for a new apt for you on 86th st – you were so excited, we all were so excited to have you “back up town” from murray hill, closer to the family, and were packing things for you to move on there on September 24 – dad even has your old football helmut ready to go!

Horace Mann was the biggest part of all our lives – they were your glory days - you were a huge star there in so many ways – everyone looked up to you – Captain of the football team and Lacross – your nickname Killer Kleier was for good reason - Mom and Dad spent dozens of days in the emergency room with you those years. Remember one game you tore your shoulder out but still played for 2 hours in the rain, bringing the team to victory? And with school work, Sabrina and I always joked – we got off the bus at 4:30 and went right to our rooms to do our homework. You came home after sports or games at 7ish, had dinner, took a nap, probably watched tv, maybe opened a book somewhere along the way and STILL graduated top of your class and went to Emory! You always could do it all, and made it look so easy.

And then there was Jen – we were never so happy as when you were with her – we loved her so much, like a daughter and a sister, picking out Ralph Lauren pink cable cashmeres, teddy bears, chocolate covered oreos, we always hoped you would wind up with her, especially since her mother’s name was Michele!

We had the closest family in the world. In fact, we talked about the family with a capitol F like the Sopranos! Steven, who loved you and knew you since you were two, always joked that mom and dad were smothering because the 3 of us did everything with them and spoke to them 50 times a day. You were better than Sabrina and I – we don’t even get dressed in the morning without calling mom to ask the weather. But when we had our own babies a few years ago, he called and said “I need to speak to that mother of yours– she did something very right with all of you and I need to know her secret.”

It was so nice for you when Sabrina and I got married, because finally you had brothers! JP and Rob love you so much – you taught them so much about computers, the Sopranos!,different kinds of music, and JP just went out yesterday and bought one of the many books you told him would help with his writing. When Sabrina and I had babies you fell in love with them, and they with you. How many 23 year old boys are into babies? You are such a gentle kind soul. You are so obsessed with our young children. You have this very cool side -the one that most of the world saw – the one who drove a Mercedes SUV listening to blaring hip hop music, wearing your jeans around your waist, multi colored sneakers, baseball caps, always an ipod in your ears, the one who went out late at night drinking with friends and who drove to Chicgao on a whim in highschool to be in the audience for the Jerry Springer show. And then there is the other Jonathan who bought my mother a doll for her bed one birthday, and wrote me a card on mothers day that made me cry, who lay on the floor to have Roxy, Lola and Dolly kiss him, the Jonathan who sometimes asked our family housekeeper advice on what to wear on a date if his roommates weren’t home, who came to every family dinner at the Palm or meatball and spaghetti Sunday nights at mom and dads, the Jonathan who ended every email to the family with “Love You!” like you were singing. The Jonathan who came to mine or my sister’s house weekly to have dinner with us, play with the kids, watch bathtime, and always tell us how lucky we were.

We felt so lucky when you came to work with us, so full of ideas – you got us on twitter and google map and all these other high tech things that I have no idea what they mean but you had patience with me and taught me and never made you feel dumb. We loved even getting emails from you at 2 am when we were all fast asleep and you had your bursts of energy with something new for the website, or a blog mom should write, when we didn’t even know what a blog was! We just feel so lucky that these past few years we have gotten to see you every day at work! You had so much potential there.

Jonathan, I don’t think any of us can imagine this world without you. I am sorry this card has gone on so long, - if you were here you would edit for me! - but there is so much to say, and your time with us was too heartbreakingly short. Maybe you were too good for this world. You had so much unfinished business – so many scripts – you were just casting one with a cute girl, website ideas for the company. You were so young and innocent – 26 years old – a baby - but also somehow you were always an old soul. You are the sweetest, most generous, loyal, moral, most sensitive child in the world, not a judgemental bone in your body; no one gave a bear hug like you. You have the biggest heart in the world. You help anyone who asks, you are honest to a flaw sometimes, you touch people you have no idea you even touch. You look at life in the best way – with such hope – you called the birth of Chase and Cooper miracles, and they were miracles – we always thought we would have girls – now we know we were destined to have little boy angels who even look like you and will carry on your spirit. You have so much love in your heart, and so much excitement for the little and the big –the perfect salty pretzel, the newest pair of nike sneakers, frogurt at 40 carrots, the script that you finally perfected (and then changed!). Everyone in this room should be so lucky to have a tiny fraction of the heart and soul and honesty and innocence and goodness that you carried every day.

I told Chase that Uncle Han went up to Heaven and that we wouldn’t be able to see him anymore, but that we could speak with him, and Sabrina heard him in the kitchen last night saying to the ceiling “Uncle Han, Can you hear me?” I told Chase that you can hear us, and to keep talking to you. I continue to email you and leave you messages on your cell phone – I know sometimes you forget to check them, but please please Jonathan, check your messages now. Don’t forget, the whole cast of Seinfeld is going to be on Larry David! We will leave you a message with the date.

Ok our sweet boy that’s all for now. Always smile, always be happy and hopeful, and know that you are right here with us, here, forever with the Family, wherever we are – at 1125, at the summer house, in Boca. And where you are, let fluffy, daisy and lily find you– they are there waiting for you. And may you find a girl there worthy of your sweet heart, and may you have many wonderful children with her – you are going to be the best father. Good night our sweet angel. We love you always.


  1. I watch your show and being curious about your business, "googled" your names and came across this blog. I am very sorry to hear of your family's loss. I too, have a younger brother and can't even imagine the devastation of losing someone so young that you love so dearly. I just wanted to say that I think this tribute you wrote to your brother is beautiful and very touching.

    Sandra - from Winnipeg, Canada

  2. I knew your family from way back at Polo. This is a touching post about a devastating and heartbreaking loss.



  3. just came here by chance, what a wonderful memeory of johnathan to share with us , i feel like i know him, and an incredible message of love, keep the faith , oneday we will all laugh together , sincerely mariann from brookly

  4. Came here by chance as well. Your brother was very lucky to have a wonderful family. What a heartfelt letter. You shared a piece of yourself with all of us. With Sympathy, Linda from MA

  5. Samantha, what a beautiful letter!!!
    I share the sadness of your loss. I too am from a family of two girls and a baby brother.You expressed exactly the feelings my sister and I had at the excitement of a little blond haired baby boy coming into our lives when we were just old enough to appreciate it. Your letter brought back all the sadness that I feel almost everyday at the loss of my brother, who died way too young (39yrs) with a first baby of his own on the way.
    I knew Jonathan. He was so helpful to me up at the office. He was truly kind, sweet and dear. He was exactly as you expressed it.
    My sympathy to you and your beautiful family on this tragic loss.

  6. What an unbelievable tribute, my eyes are filled with tears and my heart open with a smile. UNBELIEVABLE..........for sure. I am so sorry for your loss, he sounds like he could have run the world with his open heart and mind...........Until you meet again.

  7. I just learned of your loss, and the yahrzeit is this week. I am crying for you because I know you will carry this with you always. I am 55 and I lost my sister when I was 21. Your family is so beautiful and amazing and I wish this had not happened to you.

  8. I'm one that believe in the after life, so you and your family will unite again. Yes, keep talking to your brother, he hears you and he's providing blessings and protection for each of you. God bless.

  9. Samantha and Family,

    So sorry for Jonathan's untimely passing...I too lost my "baby" brother and I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face for the two of them...Ironically today is my brother's yahrzeit...Your words are just beautiful and I am sure that Jonathan hears them as my Larry hears mine...Peace be with your family always...

  10. Your family has been blessed in many ways...a thriving, successful business and ostensibly the perks & material comforts that come with it. But it has become apparent to me from watching you all on Selling New York and now, from reading this blog, that the biggest blessing you have is the love, support & strength of each other. Your family is so very real & genuine--it is truly impressive & inspirational. May you find peace & comfort in knowing that Jonathan's legacy lives on because of the love in your hearts.

  11. Wow! This only magnifies my feelings that it is all about family! I believe that God has blessed your family double for your loss. if one thing positive has come of this devastating loss, perhaps it is the strengthening of your family bond.