My friend Drew went to Heaven yesterday. At seventeen, he was definitely one of the youngest friends I’ve ever known. When I call Drew my young friend, I don’t mean in a “hey buckaroo” kind of way, but a TRUE friend full of valuable insights and opinions, questions and answers. Drew’s thoughts and opinions were not typical of many seventeen year olds. To be honest, I doubt that I was even thinking that much when I was seventeen.
Drew had the mind of a grown man and some of the strongest faith in God I’ve ever seen in my life. A conversation with him always left me wanting more, and I left each verbal exchange a little jealous of how well articulated his thoughts had been.
We discussed musical groups we both enjoyed, swapped book recommendations, and even touched on some movies and television shows. Reading is one of my all time favorite activities in life. Drew seemed to “get” that, and some of our best conversations resulted in a slight bit of “geeking out” over certain books. I’ve always respected someone’s opinion of something (critical OR positive) if they have some sort of rationale behind it. Just saying “I didn’t like it” but not giving any concrete reasons why, in my opinion, seems to cheapen the criticism. Drew was able to pinpoint exactly how and why he felt a certain way about something he liked or didn’t like and that was a great quality of his. My conversations with Drew about reading were some of the richest I’ve ever had.
Drew first was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2012, after some migraine headaches were giving him pain. We didn’t know Drew or his family all that well back then, but over the last couple of years we have been blessed to enjoy various outings with his parents, have him babysit our son a few times, sit on our couch for some catching up of a tv show (we had one of the shows he liked saved on our DVR), and just enjoy various conversations with Drew.
I hesitate to use the word “beat” when talking about his first round of cancer three years ago, but his initial tumor shrank in size and blew the doctors away. This latest round came back with a vengeance and moved quickly. Toward the end of June, Drew and his family let everyone know that it was back and was larger than the previous tumor.
As a fundraiser a couple years back, the church sold rubber bracelets to show support for Drew’s fight. The verse Drew picked to be referenced on the bracelet was the following;
Psalm 56:8 (NLT)
You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
I sit here typing and although the word “conflicted” comes to mind, it doesn’t seem to fully capture my feelings. As strong of a believer as Drew was, I know he is done with this earthly pain and sitting up there next to the God he followed faithfully until his last breath, but I am broken to know that the world will be robbed of everything he had to offer in the way of his opinions, creativity, and unending devotion to Jesus. I am broken that his parents, older brother, and younger sister will forever have a Drew-sized hole in their hearts.
So yes, I’m broken. There are so many people broken with the loss of this incredible young man. Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Drew will be missing him dearly.
I am nearly forty years old. I have lived in many places and have met countless people in my life.
There are only a handful of people whose absence from my life will leave a long lasting emotional scar.
Drew is one of those people.