Archive for February, 2014

drew-pat2He’s my oldest friend. To an extent, it was like we lived our lives on opposite sides of a mirror. Our mothers started out as college room-mates and became lifelong friends. He was born only 27 days before me. We both went to college in Virginia, only 2 hours apart on Insterstate 81. We were married in the same year, our oldest children were born almost exactly a month apart, and our second forays into parenthood were only separated by 6 months. But in 2008, our paths diverged. That year, Drew was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

We saw each other infrequently, but when we did get together, it was like he lived next door. We talked about our girlfriends (then fiancées, and eventually wives), our children, our families, our work, and certainly the good memories that we had shared over the years. It was comfortable and safe. There was no hesitation or awkwardness, even after his diagnosis. That is to his credit. He had a talent for putting people at ease. For making people laugh. For bringing joy.

This past December, Drew’s wife Charity put a call out to his friends for memories of Drew. I can think of no way more fitting for me to honor his memory, than to share some of mine here. I know I have forgotten some. I know that there are others that will occur to me in the coming weeks, months, and years. But these are the ones I jotted down that afternoon in December. These are the ones that are the most vivid in my mind. These are how Drew touched my life in small, seemingly inconsequential, but lasting ways.

  • I remember baths with shampoo hair creations. When we got older, our parents used to joke about making us do it again to get another picture for “old times sake.”
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  • Many of my memories of Drew are from our childhood visits. I remember playing in the huge field in the back of his house (that much space was a novelty for me), and riding our bikes through his neighborhood. I remember playing my first video game (Pong) at his house, and exploring the vast (to two young boys) crawlspace underneath his parents house.
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  • I remember Drew giving me my first dose of Def Leppard. Years later, I gave Drew one of his first tastes of country music. I still remember the look on his face when I said “no really, this is awesome!”
  • drew-pat5I remember some of the family vacations we shared with the Yanishaks, especially our trip out west in 1995. I remember Drew stubbornly finishing the whole stack of over-sized pancakes at the Bumbleberry Inn near Zion Canyon. I remember the amazing hike that my Dad, Drew and I took up the Narrows there.
  • I remember our second trip out west several years after we graduated, sharing a car and chatting away while we moved between sightseeing locations. Neither of us were married yet, but we were both soon to be engaged. I remember being stuck in herds of buffalo at Yellowstone park and watching our parents freaking out in the other cars while we enjoyed every minute of it.

Most of all, I remember Drew’s smile and ready laugh. Drew had a very specific way about him when he laughed that I remember seeing as recently as when I visited with him back in November. It was most prominent when he got the joke before you (or you were the butt of it!). He’d give a split second pause before he laughed. The corners of his mouth would twitch up and he’d get this little twinkle in his eye just before you heard him chuckle or laugh. It’s hard to explain, but this is the closest I can get: it was an anticipation of joy.

This world is poorer without Drew in it. But it is infinitely better because of the time he spent here. Everybody he touched will choose their own memories of Drew. But that knowing, waiting-for-you-to-get-it laugh – that anticipation of joy – is how I choose to remember my friend. I will remember the joy that he brought. The joy that he so loved bringing to those he knew. Goodbye, Drew. I hope to see you in the next life.

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Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.