Drew's funeral in Orlando was unlike anything I've ever experienced before. Unfortunately, because we lived in different states for his whole life, I hadn't known all that much about my cousin. I reflected on how utterly sad that was. Here I was...28 years old....and I barely knew my 17 year old cousin. What I know now is mostly what I heard from those who spoke at Drew's funeral and from the stories I heard told at the reception following the funeral service.
Let's talk a bit about that reception. Drew had told my other cousin Whitney that he wanted balloons at his funeral and for people to have fun. No one should cry. I hate to say, I couldn't complete his request for no crying.
I cried for a life lost so soon. I cried for my Aunt Dana and Uncle Jack who world had just collapsed around them. I cried for my Cousin Kate who had been the one to find Drew...who'd have to live with that pain for the rest of her life. I cried for Drew's friends who'd had their dearest friend taken from them. I cried for the life that Drew would never live. The marriage he'd never have, the children he'd never have, the people that he'd impact.
I remember Mom and I asking my Cousin Whitney if Drew was a Christian. I wanted to know because the only comfort I could seem to find was in the belief that my Nannie was in Heaven welcoming Drew home. I look back and do hope that we didn't hurt Whit with our questions...she was just the closest of all of us to him. We just knew that she would have the answer that would ease our pain. Unfortunately we didn't know...that haunts me to this day. The not knowing where Drew is...my hope is that he's in Heaven with Nannie and I'll get to see them both again.
My parents, grandfather and I then drove with Drew's family back to Atlanta where there would be another service. They had spent most of Drew's life in Atlanta, but were living in Orlando when Drew died. The service in Atlanta was more of the same. People talking about all Drew had done for them, taught them, shown them. Teachers, friends, acquaintances. So many people affected by this young man. I could only hope that in my years here on Earth I could affect so many people with who I was.
Drew was an amazing person. He loved family more than anything. I remember a trip to see them in Boca Raton when Drew was only about 2 or 3 years old. He'd fight taking naps because he wanted to be with his "Friends and Faaaam-ah-lee". He also loved to say the name of a local department store, he'd just ramdomly say "Buuuuuuurrrrrd-iiiiii-nes". It was hysterical. Those were hard years for their family, but I remember the most of him from that trip.
I want to end this with my biggest keepsake from Drew. My parents had been to Orlando to visit his family just about a month before his death. Drew had taken this picture of my parents:
Drew captured my parents perfectly in this picture. I am forever thankful to him for one of the best pictures of my parents.
Drew, I wish I'd had the opportunity to know you better. I am not proud of the fact that some of your friends knew you better than I, your family. I am glad, however, that I had the time we did at Nannie's funeral. Our trip in the woods was one I'll never forget. I hope I see you again.....