'We're not built to bury our children': Brookfield couple mourns son's death

Posted at 3:38 PM, Apr 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 21:39:17-04

A Brookfield couple is grieving after the sudden death of their 34-year-old son in New York.

Jenny and Rod Fostner say doctors told them their son, Donny, appears to have died of COVID-19.

Trying to get more answers from New York right now is extremely difficult.

Donny checked in with his parents regularly since moving to Brooklyn for a job at the New York Stock Exchange. But they didn’t hear from him Wednesday.

“Thursday he was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and died soon after,” Jenny said.

Jenny says a doctor called her Thursday saying Donny had developed a very high temperature, and appeared to have other symptoms of coronavirus.

“I only got a minute on the phone with the doctor because the hospital was so full,” Jenny said. “I didn’t get any details and I don’t really want any. To think she has to go to work every day and do this, and I was not the only mother she had to give that news to. I would like to meet her someday and say 'thank you.'”

Donny’s death is a total shock for the family, happening so fast. He was only 34, and didn’t have any known health conditions.

“We know he was being so careful too,” Jenny said. “He did not take the subway. He did not take taxis or Ubers. He was taking all the precautions.”

Getting more answers is not easy. In the 24-hour period between Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon, 562 people are reported to have died of coronavirus in New York. That’s according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Hospitals and morgues there are overwhelmed, and autopsies aren’t being done.

“We have people fighting to get Donny’s remains out of that state, and so far it's working,” Jenny said. “We just put that in God's hands. We want to say goodbye to our son. We want him home.”

To make matters worse, because of COVID-19, Donny’s family has to grieve alone.

“We're not built to bury our children, and it's just so hard that you can't hug the people, your family and friends, and get the love that you need during a tough time like this,” Rod said.

But friends and neighbors are making sure they don’t feel alone. They gathered for a vigil outside the Fostner’s home in Brookfield Friday night. Every one keeping a safe distance from each other.

And so many of Donny’s friends and coworkers have been calling and emailing.

“One of his coworkers told me that in their field, they don't meet people who are gentle, kind-hearted and spontaneous like Donny,” Jenny said. “He made you feel so special when you were with him. Those kids are writing me beautiful messages, telling me what he meant to them and it's saving us right now. He really did live life to the fullest, and made everyone he met feel special.”

“He was well-loved by everybody,” Rod said. “As a parent, he was the best you could ask for in a child.”

Donny attended Brookfield East High School, and graduated from UW-Madison in 2007 with a degree in nuclear engineering and physics.

He is survived by his parents, and his younger siblings, Megan and Jake.

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