Drew was with us for 13 years, 9 months and 29 days.
During his short life, the impact he made on others is astounding. He brought a balance to our home that was undeniable. Drew was always happy and comfortable in his own skin. Drew had this way of bringing joy, laughter and light with him wherever he went. He had this smirk that was almost magical–that would lighten the mood and bring a smile to your face– even if you were trying not to smile. He was his daddy’s boy and you just couldn’t stay mad at him. He was definitely mischievous and had quite a sense of humor as well, just ask anyone who knew him. His heart was as big as a house. Drew admired his big brothers and was extremely close to both of them. He never wanted to be “as good” as them in sports or any other aspect of life… he wanted to be BETTER. They pushed him, coached him, and cheered for him as much as his Dad did. He possessed the best qualities of his family members – His dad’s determination, his mother’s heart, and his brothers’ competitiveness and charm. He was such a bright light to his family and friends.
Drew loved all sports and was very competitive, but at the same time always respected his opponents. He was always one of the first ones to tell the opposing players, “Good job!” Drew also knew that sports were supposed to be fun and he always found ways to make whatever he was doing enjoyable. We always enjoyed watching him in whatever sport he was participating in. When Drew was playing Pop Warner football, in between plays, they would play classic rock on the loud speaker and every time Drew would start dancing in the middle of the field. We’d think, “Pay attention to the next play, Drew.” But as soon as the music stopped, he’d be right back on task and ready to go again.
We knew the positive difference he made in our lives, but after Drew was taken from us, the stories started flooding in and they are wonderful to hear.
As parents we know what our children are like at home, but you never know once they are with their friends etc… what they are like. We just hope we raised our children right and hope for the best. Hearing these stories made us so proud and showed us a side of Drew we wish so many more could have gotten to know. Here are a few examples:
One of the first stories a young man told us about was how Drew helped him when he was being bullied in 6th grade. You see Drew was in 8th grade when the other boy was in 6th and the boys rode the same school bus. The young man said he had been bullied and Drew saw this. Drew changed seats and started sitting with him. Just by Drew’s presence and inclusion of this young man, the bullying stopped, and the young man’s whole world changed for the better.
A middle school boy spoke of when his family first moved to this area. Drew was the first one to be his friend. He said this was amazing because “Drew was so popular” that he had nothing to gain by being his friend and that “he was just that nice.”
A teacher where his mom worked told of when she had surgery on her feet and had to use an assistive device to walk. She said Drew would always carry her things to her car for her. He’d always offer to help and he did it without being asked.
Many neighbors of all ages came to the family to tell stories of how Drew, when out on his bike or skateboard, would often stop and talk to them in their yards, always using good manners. There were a lot of retired people in our neighborhood and they were so pleased that he took the time to talk with them. He was never nervous or uncomfortable with older people and would often initiate conversation. Other neighbors said they’d look forward to him riding by because he always waved and smiled.
Here are a few comments people wrote to us after Drew’s death:
“I remember during an overtime game against Havelock two years ago, Drew picked off a pass and returned it 82 yards for the 6-0 win.”
“He protected my son from being bullied.”
Drew’s school counselor wrote, “He was mischievous, full of jokes and laughter. He had glorious blonde hair and a beautiful quick smile. He was also kind and concerned about doing the right thing. He was excited about going to Croatan High School, and I was excited for him, eager to see what his life and future would hold. Drew was not bound by normal limits. He enjoyed sports and athletics, and he would have become a natural adventurer, I am sure; Drew would have become someone who knows no fear and gives no attention to worry. Someone who knows that each of our days matter, and that God is on that journey with us for each and all of those days, be they short or long. Drew was a boy who would never have grown to be a couch potato!”
“My last memory of Drew was watching him at the conference track meet. He was a beast!”
“I was sad once because I had never been kissed by a boy. Drew kissed me on the cheek and said, “Now you don’t have to be sad anymore.”
“He was always respectful and friendly to all people–young, old, black, white, Hispanic, athletes, those in the band… everybody.”
“In the past I had made some decisions that weren’t exactly good and Drew helped me through them! I was wearing my do it for Drew shirt today and some kids asked me about it so I told them his story and how he was never mean to anyone and how he always wanted to help. I ended up leading 3 of those 5-6 kids to god all thanks to Drew”
Shortly after Drew left us, Drew’s middle school art teacher sent us a painting she had done of Drew playing football. This was the note she sent with it: “This is not just a football picture… The boy holding the football has brought pure joy into my art class for the past 3 years. I can remember the first day that I taught him. Such a beautiful kid. He was always so polite, so kind and so willing to help. He would go out of his way to tell me hello or help me in class. From time to time he’d get a bad rap from a teacher from being such a social fella, but he was nothing but gold in my class. I cannot tell a lie, I was partial to this sweetheart of a kid.
His name is Drew Hughes. He was just a pure ray of sunlight.
Drew just recently passed away after a skateboarding accident. While I don’t understand why, I do know this. God has a purpose for Drew. He brought joy into sooo many lives, including my own. While my heart is heavy for his family and my students, I know that Drew has a loving Savior who is certainly enjoying his joyful spirit. I hope that my students know that. I hope they can feel God’s love and that they can see Drew’s smile in all of life’s little beautiful things. Find joy in everything and always do some good… For Drew.”
God gave us Drew for a short time, but He knew what He was doing.
As much as it hurt losing him, what would so many people’s lives have been like if Drew had never been part of them? We are so thankful for what God’s gift brought to our family and the many people touched by Drew’s life. Even if we knew the outcome, as painful as it was, we would take that 13 years, 9 months, and 29 days over again any time. Life moves forward as much as we wish we could stop it sometimes. Our family will always move forward for Drew and we will be better people because of Drew.