Sorry I didn’t write you sooner. As fate would have it, your birthday was last Wednesday, and this just happens to be the best forum for me to do this, albeit only on Tuesdays. Sue me.
Anyway, this is the third year in a row that I’ve given you a birthday letter. Last year, it was about cake and bacon beer (of which I did NOT get to partake in this year...you’re slacking, although, I did make a cake that was pretty damned good). The year before, it was simply a personal thing, telling you about all the new things I was learning about being not only a widower, but dating a widow.
Mostly though, the song remains the same. I still would have liked to know you personally, even though it would have absolutley sucked to see you gone. There had to be something interesting about you that brought such a unique group of friends together. Friends who continue to remember your birthday every year. Friends who still hate this day, because it reminds them ever more so that you’re not there wearing a purple tiara and having a beer with them.
But those friends, well, they’ve just bought plane tickets to Ohio. That’s right, they’re coming to the north for the annual celebration in your honor. I’m excited, but a little weirded out too. I mean, as far as I know, you never ventured into Ohio. If it wasn’t for me...a guy that never said two words to you, it’s likely that Sarah would still be in Texas, and everyone would be sharing that weekend at what you Texans call a “campground” in 100 degree heat. I’m by no means a surrogate for your presence, but I’ll be damned if I don’t feel that I have some sort of shoes to fill, especially since I’m the indirect reason Drewfest is taking its talents to the north this year.
Not only are your friends getting together for the sixth year in a row, but now there’s children involved. You know all about Shelby. She’s still doing the “Hey Drew” when she hears a helicopter flying overhead (as long as she isn’t too engrossed in her books). She even made a little, yellow clay helicopter just on a whim. You’re still like that crazy distant uncle that she, for some reason, finds hilarious and memorable. This year, another little girl will also be here to entertain Shelby. Did you ever think that if you and your friends all got together, there be two little girls running around, just as much a part of the “crew”?
You should see Sarah with her. She is as much a mom as Megan was, and she’s damned good at it. I gotta imagine that had you two adopted, you’d be in awe at her natural maternal instincts. She won’t ever admit it, but she’s a born mother. It’s a big deal on her part that she never got to see you with your child. It’s kinda the same for me. If only sheer curiosity, I have a persistent “what if” that surfaces, where I wonder what it might be like if Sarah had brought a child from you two’s relationship into our own.
Wonder and what-ifs are about as useful as nipples on a bull though. I know that, Sarah knows that, just about everyone who has ever lost someone knows that. Hell, what if I hadn’t eaten a bowl of cherries in early 2012? What if the orchard that you were flying over went bankrupt because of that? I wonder if those cherries wouldn’t need drying because nobody was going to harvest them anyway. (For the record, I don’t care HOW much you loved flying, blow drying a cherry tree with a helicopter is the very definition of “overkill”)
But I digress. You had to do what you had to do to be in the air. The whole butterfly effect brought Sarah to me. It brought Shelby to Sarah. It brought beautiful artwork into the spotlight. It brought bacon beer into this world. It’s bringing your friends to Ohio in a few months.
It’s also bringing me to start rambling. The point is, there’s a whole hell of a lot of good things your legacy has brought. People still notice you...almost six years later. Sarah and I had a Shiner last Wednesday just because of your one-time presence on this earth. We toasted you and said buddy we may be through, but you’ll never hear me complain. (Ok, that was corny, but I’m going with it).
So, hey man, six years after your death, keep flying. Keep watching over Megan, and keep influencing those of us here on earth. I’ll take care of the nitty-gritty details of day-to-day life, and I’ll even host a 3-day party in my home in your honor, with the only caveat being that it would still be better if you were there.
Happy (belated) Birthday,