Well, it’s that time of year again. I’m here in Texas, with Sarah and Shelby, to celebrate you. This is what, year...five for me? That seems crazy. We went to your grave today, and it’s I guess looking good as ever. The little heart shaped rocks, the trinkets...the helicopters; they’re all still there. Your mom had some pretty nice flowers set up too. Lilies, I think. I dunno. I’m pretty sure you don’t care all that much, considering that it’s been 7 years, and your loved ones are still making it a point to come by and “tidy up”.
Anyway, you should have seen it tonight. Your parents are totally loving having Shelby around. Playing ping-pong with her, your mother showing Shelby around her business, rendering Peanut both in awe of all of the scientific equipment, and speechless, your dad and I telling “dad jokes” to her, and even letting her drive the farm vehicles around. It’s almost like Shelby is their granddaughter.
It kind of sucks, in a way I’m sure. They love Shelby like their own, but Shelby isn’t YOUR child. It’s gotta be bittersweet. They only get to see her, at best, twice a year, but those moments make me incredibly proud to call your parents family. I wish they would be able to have more time around her. Hell, more time around you too, but I’m selfish, and I really like how much Shelby enjoys being here.
Further to that point, I’m going to be marrying your fiance. The wedding is still a year away, but this is the first time we’ve visited the cemetery, slept in your bed, ate dinner with your parents, or just woke up to a warm Texas morning as an engaged couple. It’s likely to be the final Drewfest before we’re married, but either way, they won’t stop. Just because Sarah will be my wife doesn’t mean that you aren’t a huge part of that in the first place. Same goes for Megan. Neither of you get to “bow out” of all the things you’ve done for us once we’re married. You’ll both always get the credit, and the blame.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
On Thursday, Drewfest 2019 officially starts. Your closest friends are all getting together again, just like they do every year. We’ll toast you with that wonderful bacon beer of yours, and act like you’re still here, because you are. Shelby will spot a helicopter, and yell “hey Drew!” I’m sure. Megan will be getting to watch her daughter have a ball for the entire week, and I’m sure give you a thumbs up for bringing such an awesome group of people together. A group of people that loves and supports Shelby as much as any of her own friends.
I don’t ever minimize that man. You never got to have a child of your own, but I’ll be damned if Shelby doesn’t love you at least as an uncle. Just like me, she never got to know you in the flesh, but I’m sure she wishes she had. She’s grown such a love for Texas that she bought a danged Texas necklace today. If Megan hadn’t been cremated, I think she’d be rolling over in her grave.
But she was, and she isn’t.
She’s wherever you are, giving you a high five. You deserve it. Coming down here isn’t just a vacation for us. It’s not a way to “get away from it all”. It’s a specific way to honor what you and Sarah, you and your family, your and your friends had. We wouldn’t do this without them. We wouldn’t be able to do it without you having been around.
We wouldn’t be able to do it if you were here, but then again, I guess we wouldn’t need to.
Who the hell knows where I would be today if you hadn’t died. That is f’n weird to think about. All that “what if Megan hadn’t died?” stuff I asked myself (and still do) gains a whole new perspective when we’re here for Drewfest. I have to ask “what if Drew hadn’t died?” just the same. I actually don’t have an answer to either question. It is so unfathomable to me that Sarah and I met because the both of you died that I literally can’t...um...fathom it.
It’s all good. I don’t have a festering need to know the answers. I got to know Megan, and I still feel like I knew you. Dead or not, you and I are thick as thieves...deal with it. I’m not trying to replace you...never have been, and never will be. Sarah ain’t replacing Megan anytime soon either, and she doesn’t have to. All that sappy crap about “filling a different space in my heart” still holds true, no matter how ridiculous it may sound coming out of my Marine mouth.
So anyway, things are going pretty well here bud. I’m doing my best to hold down the fort, and I’m asking you to do the same there. We’ll share a beer someday, but for now, I’d prefer to stick around here. I think Sarah would prefer it too. I mean, dude, I’m just going to point out that your death was slightly traumatic for her, so it’d probably be nice if I avoided it.
Give Megan a hug for me, by the way. Tell her I’ll be writing her soon, because right now, she may not be paying as much attention, what with one of her best friends getting a lung transplant earlier this week. Bigger fish to fry, and all that, y’know?
Gotta go man. Keep on flying.