Sarah, Shelby and I are in Texas this week for the 4th annual get-together of her and Drew’s closest friends. This is the second time I’ve attended, and Shelby’s first. I’ve met these people before. They are all already friends of mine, albeit not as close as Sarah is to them, but friends nonetheless.
There seem to be a lot of similarities between Drew and I. We were entirely different people, but I hear every day from Sarah of things that I do or mannerisms I hold that are “just like him”. His friends have welcomed me with open arms just the same; knowing that I’m a different person, but able to sit down, have a beer, and shoot the breeze through the night with me as if I’ve always been part of the group.
There is one thing though, an event, that both Drew and I experienced in much the same way. Meeting Sarah’s parents.
Sarah’s mother died when she was only nine years old, and although he was still alive when Sarah and Drew met, her father passed shortly after. Drew and I both met them the same way...at a cemetery in Corpus Christi, Texas.
It was extremely important to me to not only travel to Texas to have festivities in Drew’s honor, but to also ensure that we visited his resting place, and Sarah’s parents’ as well. To be frank, the whole reason that Sarah and I met is because Drew died, and a large part of the relationship she has with Shelby is because of the loss of her mother. These people are important to me.
After the weekend’s festivities, the three of us traveled to Corpus, where Sarah was born and raised. As we drove into town, we made the decision to pick up some flowers and visit the cemetery. Shelby picked out most of the flowers, and funny enough, most of them were plants that grow in Ohio...Forsythia, Daffodils, Crocus, etc. We then drove to the cemetery, and began placing them at her parents’ headstone.
It wasn’t a hugely moving event. There weren’t tears or quiet reflection. Shelby expressed, in the way only she can, on how similar the site was to her uncle Jason’s (she too met him only at a cemetery), and how pretty the flowers looked. As she dusted off the headstone, I wondered if, four years after Drew’s death, Sarah ever thought she would be here with a nine year old little girl that lost her own mother. One that holds just as much love for Sarah as I do.
I stood back and watched the two of them. I didn’t have words to say. Shelby was visiting her potential “grandma and grandpa” under a brass plaque in Texas. It pains me to no end that she never got to meet her uncle Jason, Megan’s brother. In some ways, it hurts even more that she will never get to meet Sarah’s parents.
I like to think that, after all she has been through, Sarah’s mom and dad are watching her with huge smiles beaming across their faces when they see her with Shelby. That they’re beyond proud of their own little girl and the woman she became. Just the same, Shelby’s mom and dad are doing the same as she grows.
Most importantly though, I know Megan is watching, along with Drew, missing US all the time, but filled with joy at seeing these two women bonding with each other in this whole complex web of a family, both here and gone.