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Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Sweet Sweet Drew

I had a knock at the door and  standing in front of me was a fellow with dark glasses shorts and tall black boots and a key chain wallet attached to his belt, he said, looking at the ground, no greeting, no hello, just, "I am Drew, Ms Betty's son, you go lay down and don't you worry about a thing, I will sit right here for as long as you need me to." You see I had been up for four days straight too afraid to sleep, I had a neighbor who had been cooking and dealing meth, basically, in my house. We shared a house that had 2 units in it, so we were in very close quarters. Kenny, my husband, was still in Florida and was several months out from coming to the Western mountains of North Carolina. What many people don't know is that there is an epidemic of meth use in the remote hills of this beautiful country setting. The kids and I had found this wonderful house, actually an old barn converted into rental units, and we worked hours on end to make it a home, however, the couple in the small front rental was a strange sight.  They were the kind of people who you always see on the fringe, they were down-trodden, sad in spirit, and you could tell they were oppressed by life, but we had no idea what was really going on in the late hours of the night.  What we did know was that from around one in the morning until around four in the morning there was a horrible stench from their eternal fire-building and they had a flow of traffic, at these odd hours, in and out of their apartment. By shear accident a local, young cable installer had gone into the basement and came back up to our apartment in absolute fear! He went on to tell me he thought there was a meth cook on the property, and I immediately knew it was not Me! The police had to follow protocol so I had about 2 weeks that  I was left on my own, before they could make an arrest. So that is what brought Andrew Larry Swift into my life. From the moment I meet Drew I knew he was different, he didn't quite fit in, he would never make eye contact, and was always slow to speak, but when he told you something I always felt somehow I could count on it. I went up stairs and called Kenny and told him, I really like Ms. Betty's son, I had a special feeling about him, he was different, and I knew that Drew, probably  his entire life had  never really fit in, but I chatted him up, like I always do, and very quickly we became friends, as best he could. As he left that day he gave me his cell number and said if I needed anything, day or night, just call him and he would be right back over there. You see right back over there was 2 hours, we where in North Carolina and Drew lived in Tennessee, so it wasn't like he lived across town, it was 2 hours. I have always had an affinity for people like Drew, almost since I was a little girl, it is so ironic that God would give me a child with Aspergers, it seems as though he was preparing my heart for the day I would have to fight for my child to be accepted into a cruel and harsh world, if you don't fit into a norm that says this is how you should look or act or learn or speak. So buddy, when Wyatt was born, I was raring to go, fighting gloves on, ready to knock on any door I had to,  not accepting no as an answer, I was determined to find him the best help he needed. I knew it would be a difficult journey his entire life. He was mine and I was not ashamed of his inabilities, I saw the beauty in his heart and how because of his lack in one area he had this uniqueness about him in other areas. He had captured my heart. And just let me say, for the first 12 years of his life it was a daily fight. A heartbreaking fight. I have never felt such physical pain as I have felt over the pain I have felt seeing his heartbreak over not being accepted. These children, these adults, want friendship so badly, it eats at their very soul, but just don't have the skills to do it, And what is so sad is, it is not something you can teach them. It is in their very fibers, they try and I have seen Wyatt get better but it is just so hard, social settings are extremely stressful for them. They are just the odd ones out. Usually the ones by themselves or the ones trying to make conversations, but the other kids, or even adults, are thinking, wow this kid's weird.  Usually they are very intelligent so what they talk about alot of times no one understands.They blurt out things, their timing is off, their jokes are very funny, but they are strapped to the history books they read or the computer games they play, so it is hard for people not familiar with those kinds of things, to make sense of.  High numbers also are musically inclined, Drew was in a band, which seems like an oxymoron, but I think there is a safety behind an instrument, the same as I see my son when he plays games on-line and he wears a headset, the safety is in not facing someone, again hiding behind something.  These children have a purity of heart that  seems to link them all together. I suspected from the beginning  Drew might have these problems. Well, over the month I continued my friendship with Drew and he made several trips over, at his own expense, one night he sat in his car all night, he did not know I knew he was there, watching over me and the kids. I had a problem with the bronco and who did I call but, Drew, and who came but, Drew. I would tease him, and say he needed to charge me a consultation fee, and he would just look away and laugh, but I could tell Drew felt accepted at my house, my children addressed him as Mr Drew and gave him respect, he wasn't on the outside in my home, he was on the inside, he was included, he was my friend, I saw past the outer and saw Dew's heart. You know there's a simple Bible truth here, and its, just simply, help someone when they ask. And that's what Drew did. He didn't wave a banner or post all the things he had done for me, his own Mother didn't know all he had done, he just did them because he had a good heart, and I think our responsibility is to look past someone's outer self and look into that person's heart, so often we judge, we see a person, even in church or at a school function dressed nicely and who do we immediately make our way to? When their might be a Drew or a Wyatt standing on the out skirts just needing a friendly smile and someone to say hello. I had alot of friends, I had a home church, but, not one person came to my house during that time to help me, but a man from Tennessee with dark glasses too shy to look me in the eyes.  On July 27,2011 Drew, was shot and killed, and I feel in my heart, finding friendship is what drove Drew possibly to his death. Acceptance is a powerful pull, being alone is a dreadful, dreadful thing. Everyone needs a friend. Even a bad friend, sometimes we can convince ourselves, is better than no friend at all. I have gone over it in my mind a million times, did I extend myself to Drew the best that I could have , did I share my faith with him, I was heart broke the day Ms Betty called me, I was heartbroke for a week, and as I reflect back, yes, I think I did. I included Drew in our family, I sat him at my table gave him my chocolate cake, the kids gathered around, Jesse Cole asked him a million questions about his band, Drew just lit up as he was talking about it. The next time he came he brought a few of his hand guns to show Wyatt, he was a different man showing and explaining those firearms to my boys. I had told him of how faithful God had been the past year to give us that big ole' barn to start a healing in our journey back from losing everything. He shared a little bit about what that house had meant to him,  and some things about growing up and how his Mom, who he loved dearly, and he, was the"team". So as I laid there, almost a week after Drew had passed, and I asked God, please always give me the opportunity to share myself, share my family, my faith with a soul that is lost or lonely, or just needs a friendly smile. I dedicate this post to my friend Drew.

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