A Letter to Drew

Dear Drew,
This is always how I began my poetry workshop letters to you. I know I never got the chance to
tell you how much I meant it, but I did. You were dear to my heart. You were my first real crush
out of high school. How could you not be? I remember meeting you on the porch of some frat
and immediately knowing. The goofy smile everyone keeps mentioning, the wavy hair, the
casual mention of being in a band. Oh my gosh. You were also talented, smart, funny,
interesting, and (amazingly) humble. You were the type that you stay friends with, even when
they can’t reciprocate your obsessive, fan-girl level crush. You let me down as gently as you
could because you were that kind of person. Just so good to others. I mean, in the end, that’s
why I really liked you. Really liked you. Enough to still want to be your friend even when my
own ego was bruised. And I am so thankful that I got to be your friend. I came to college not
knowing anyone, and you made me feel welcome not just at Rhodes, but in Memphis. You were
the first person from here to take me off campus, whether it was to introduce me to new
people I would also become friends with or to invite me to your shows. We ended up going
separate paths, especially when Covid hit, but I knew you would always be a friendly face, and
that I would always be so grateful to you for the kindness you showed me when I first got here.
It made such a difference to me. You were one of the first people to make me feel like I
belonged here, like I had people I could go to at Rhodes and in Memphis. I feel so lucky that I
got to catch up a few times with you at parties this year, and see you every week in class,
because every room you were in you made better. I cry every time I think about seeing your
empty chair in class, because you made me feel less alone. And thinking about the rooms you
won’t be in anymore is a kind of grief I have never dealt with before. It doesn’t feel like it’s
about me—after all, we hadn’t been close in a couple years. No, the kind of grief I feel is for a
world that doesn’t have Drew Rainer in it anymore. I think I can get over missing you, maybe
like how I got over having a crush on you. But thinking about the life you would have lived and
all the people you were and would have been dear to? I don’t know how to deal with that. I
miss you. We miss you.