Drew Story (true story)...
Is the earthly version of little Drew (left) any more "dead" than his little brother Jack (right)? To me - no. Children shed their skin for teenager hood, then adulthood. Children are dying. They are losing themselves for a different version. Where are either of these boys? As I write this, grown up Jack is in Europe. Where is little Jack? He is gone forever. As is little Drew. What is the difference? Not much to me. Where is grown up Drew? Where is Drew Swan?
If you visit his gravesite in Lac LaBelle cemetery, you will eventually come across what will be written on his tombstone: "Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?" - Luke 24:5. Is Drew alive? Or is that thought the desperate wishful thinking of a grieving father? Probably both. All I had going for me was the hope "I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me." - 2 Samuel 12:23. Until now. Now I have more than that. I have been given the gift of statistical proof - evidence to all but the biggest of losers that Drew is in fact "Alive and Happy".* I have received this through the method of statistical impossibility.
Conservapedia's definition of this phenomena: "A statistical impossibility is a probability that is so low as to not be worthy of mentioning. Sometimes it is quoted as 1X10^-50 although the cutoff is inherently arbitrary. Although not truly impossible the probability is low enough so as to not bear mention in a rational, reasonable argument."
I have had a spiritual experience that has given me a 1/1,000,000 X 1/1,000,000 X 1/1,000,000 X 1/1,000,000 X 1/1,000,000 odds that Drew is NOT alive. That's 5 "One in a Millions" back to back to back etc. If you care to multiply 1 Million to the 5th power, bring a pretty big calculator. If you're betting on the one in how ever many zeroes chance that Drew is dead and gone forever- you are "low enough so as to not bear mention in a rational, reasonable argument."
So what's the story? It started where I had expected it to start. I was warned of this from my wife Kristine who lost her big (19 year old) sister Joanie to a drunken head on collision when Kristine was just 16. "After the pomp and circumstance of the funeral is done, the real pain of the silent, forever loneliness begins." This is where I begin.
I was in a depression fog - aided by a physical system shock and mental denial - and had not returned to work after 3+ weeks since Jack said those two words to me at 12:32 AM on April 4, 2013: "Drew's dead". Fade to black...
I had no time for anyone who didn't know or love Drew, or anyone who didn't know or love Jesus. Those were my rules and my voicemail had been full since April 4th- I was in a classic isolation mode- a talent I'd honed as an active alcoholic. Staying sober was going to be important so I could function and rob anyone else of their "need" to use. To be candid- if I thought there was a drug, drink, or human being in this world who could take a dent out of the pain I was in- I would have used any of them in a heart beat. I did the math and concluded nothing could scratch this kind of pain. No offense Mr. Marijuana or any of your friends. Sorry all you codependent, nurturing women types. You had nothing for me. Then I thought of someone I admired quite a bit- with deep respect and warm friendship- who I knew KNEW Jesus. Perhaps she could tell me all over again how I will see Drew again in Heaven, yada yada yada, and I would buy it...buy another day of the hell I was living in.
Robin Sullivan. In Detroit- she is Christian Royalty. Robin has dominated the Christian airwaves at WMUZ 103.5 FM since the mid eighties. She was also a buddy. We arranged to meet for coffee on a Monday morning at 8:30 at the Caribou where we'd met before. Robin brought me one nice pink geranium potted plant and two listening ears.
Towards the end of our visit, she gave me her recommendation. "Greg, you have GOT to read 'Heaven is for Real' ". She said it to me in a "Run, don't walk to the closest Christian bookstore" kind of tone. I had no better ideas and nothing going on - that I cared about. So I hugged her goodbye and hauled off straight away for that book.
Over the next two days I devoured it. Almost too fast. It kept me going with hope and comfort and perhaps a glimpse of what Drew was encountering. As I approached the end, a sadness hit me as a thought that said "after this book, I would run out of the hope". It was giving me amazing hope as my addiction to this limited book was taking hold. Addicts like me really only want one thing: MORE.
I paused the inevitable finishing of the book just as I had come to a suggestion by the author to become a "vulnerable" person. I picked up another "fix" I was pacing myself at finishing. I went to read one of only eight blogs Drew had left online. Recently, Team Detroit - Ford's media buying agency who I call on regularly- published Drew's blogs in the form of a finished book and presented it to me. It truly blew my mind. It will remain forever the nicest gift I have ever received. It said "He counted, he mattered, he was here, he has a legacy". I have their backs forever as a result. Anyway, as I finished one of these blogs, Drew himself made the same suggestion as the author of the book "Heaven is for Real" - the only book that brought me comfort. Drew suggested I become "vulnerable". Hmmm- that was nice. "What are the odds" I thought? I am reading a book about Heaven to get some relief from my grief over Drew, and the author and Drew - within in minutes of each other via my reading, present that word 'vulnerable'. I can't expect you to believe this, but I knew right there God was paying attention to me. To paraphrase, He was saying: "Dude- you like that book, I can see that- you love Drew- bam- here's a tie in that it's authentic." I was like, (I actually said this out loud) "Ok God, let's do this. Throw down (please) more of these tie ins to this book. Show up for me - have fun with it. I need it." Only I know I said this- so perhaps you're not able to believe me about what happened next. Then again, you aren't in as much pain as I was about Drew- you couldn't be. I was maxed out as far as anyone could love anyone else on this earth could be. So all I cared about then was MY relief, not yours. Ok- here's what happened, the first "What are the odds - One in a Million" directly after I prayed that prayer.
I finished the book- must have been less than two pages left. Then I noticed there was a bonus section titled "About the Author". I read it. Todd Burpo - the father of Colton Burpo - seemed authentic, like a regular guy. Then I read who really assembled the book. One Lynn Vincent. Her name is right on the cover but I was blinded to it. Things that make you go hmmm. That named sounded so familiar. Could it be? I arose from my reading place and walked into my home office. Slowly, hoping I was right- I looked down to a now framed article from World Magazine (The Christian answer to TIME) that was written about me. It was a big, national news story about how I was a Christian Businessman who was savaged for putting a Bible in more than 12 Million boxes of cereal. It made me famous or infamous at the time (July of 2000) depending on what side you were on. And there it was - BAM - Lynn Vincent - that same Lynn Vincent who edited the book I was clinging to - had also written the article about me. I actually knew her, the author of the book. I also knew the Author of the story. It hit me like a bullet between the eyes - like an out of body disbelief. Check it out.
"What are the odds? Surely one in a million" I thought. I called Robin to share my "miracle". I had a prayer instantly answered. God was paying attention to me. More comforting to me was - if that was true- Drew was alive- that's what I took away. I was so grateful. That feeling lasted a couple days. I took it. Then like the relentless 2X4 of Drew's persistent absence hit me again across the face. "Somebody call the Five-O, we got a man down." I've broken up with girls before and no matter how nice I've said it - I hated myself for that sad, pathetic look I see in their eyes that I'm causing as they realize they won't see me any more. This time I was the dumpee - and no matter how kind or inspiring the words, I again felt like I was holding a big bag of nothing. I fell into more depression, on the brink of despair. I needed more.
After the last supper- Drew's and my last supper on Super Bowl Sunday 2013, my last night together on earth with oh so wonderful Drew, Drew played a song he wrote- which can be seen here.
Since this was at the Orlando home of KC Craichy - a member of a small CEO Group I belong to, and all these CEOs witnessed my last night with Drew together, they are now all extra special people to me. So when they held their next meeting - this time in Minneapolis, I reluctantly agreed to attend. I just wanted to be alone, but had to honor that last night with Drew. I mention here that on my first CEO meeting - in Colorado Springs - I was the guest of Dr. Doug Weiss, author of a groundbreaking new book called "Clean", for men who want sexual integrity. (It is the successor to "Every Man's Battle".) On the way downstairs in Doug's mountain mansion was a 4 foot painting of a very particular and striking Jesus - an exact copy of the one mentioned below from "Heaven is for Real". It was stunning and the first time I had seen it.
The format of these CEO groups is always the same. Dinner Sunday night followed by Monday's 10 "Share your biggest concern with the group" sessions ending with Tuesday's high profile Christian speaker. After Lunch on Monday, when it was my turn to share my biggest concern so the CEOs could then speak wisdom into my life, I simply said: "Save your breath and your advice. My biggest concern has only one shot and that is prayer. You see- I don't give a rat's ass anymore. I need prayer because I just don't give a damn about anything".
So the guys made me stand up in the middle of the room, surrounded me and prayed. They held me up saying "You're a California Redwood whose roots are wrapped around other Redwoods (us) so you won't fall over."
That night was the worst night I have ever had on planet earth - worse than when I found out about Drew's death- that never ending longest day when I didn't go back to bed. I went to my hotel - a Marriott Residence Inn- and discovered an e-mail letter I barely remember getting on my 50th Birthday because there was some other drama going on. It was from Drew, http://drewswan.com/deardad.htm.
Four times as I read the letter I had to stop and run to the bed and cry. Each time got worse until I was wailing so loudly I had to cover my mouth and scream into my hands and the mattress for concern I would wake the other residents. My eyes felt like they were going to pop out of my head. My pain was realizing this beautiful boy who loved me so much was gone - and I had taken him and his love for granted. Who could love me THAT much ever again? When my mom died in 1995 I said "No one will ever love me that much again" I was dead wrong - Drew Swan did. "Where are you Jesus?" I forced out two or three times- I knew I had reached the unbearable point. I was holding the Lord accountable for Isaiah 53:4 - "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows."
I was done - it was over. I was convinced this was it- I will never EVER get over Drew and I was doomed to a life of sorrow upon sorrow. "Ok- cry if you must, but realize you're crying for yourself dad- not for me - I'm good." I thought I heard in Drew's voice.
The next day I had an 11AM flight scheduled out of Minneapolis. I was set on keeping it and blowing off the "guest speaker". I just didn't care and couldn't be bothered with people who didn't get it- I was simply screwed and I'm outtahere. At 8:30 the next morning, like a golden retriever, Larry, one of the CEOs - kept asking me to stay- finally offering to cook a steak dinner that night for me and my Minneapolis friend Don as we toured "Hope for the City" - a $10M/year charity run by one of the other CEOs- Dennis. Larry closed it by saying "I am buying your return ticket for you."
I stayed - and for the first time ever in my experience- Priceline.com honored the non-refundable ticket the next day, so Larry was off the hook. At 11:30 I was introduced to the guest speaker- a highly sought after prophet name Ron - who had no idea about Drew. After giving a teaching, he pointed at me and said I have a message for that man. Ron proceeded to read my mail- announced things no one ever knew about me. I have his entire prophecy recorded and will post it later. He said "God has heard your cry - he has heard your crying. The spirit of death that had been assigned to you is breaking off of you even now says the Lord. You came here thinking if you don't get a word you don't know what you will do- there is a new day ahead for you..." He prophesied about my wife and my son as well.
I'm going to count that as a one in million shot #2. Worked for me.
Naturally I was intrigued by Ron and glommed onto him like George Harrison glommed onto Paul McCartney when he was begging to become a Beatle."Ron- wherever you need to go next- I'm driving". On the way to some place an hour away, I told Ron my story about Lynn Vincent. "Oh- the Burpo Family. I was just with them, ministering to them and with them at their church." ..."What?! May I ask what day this was?" Said I. "Easter Sunday" said he. Well, that happened to be the last day I ever spoke to Drew. It was on the phone. Take all that, mix in the fact that Ron also ministered to the prodigy Akiane Kramarik who painted the picture of Jesus at age 8 that was in the book "She's 14 now he said". Wa-la, you've got your genuine one in a million shot #3.
Which takes us to #4 - The WMUZ Broadcast night part 2 at Jack's apartment...
Robin was intrigued enough during our meeting to invite me to be a guest on her radio show "Praise Company Witness Today" which airs from 7-8 PM in a magazine style format (Music and interviews). I lived for doing that show - having still not put in a full day of work in the real world. Ron had corrected me that "The real world is the spirit world separated from us by only a thin veil, right in front of our face from the temporary world we are in now." I was trying to keep Drew alive, working on his site in any free time I had to avoid my pain. It's a whopper- www.DrewSwan.com. The Radio show aired 4/29 (live) and 4/30 - pre-taped, still in the same month Drew died. For the second night of the hour long show I went to Lansing to listen to it with Jack. As we were listening, I noticed that same picture of Jesus - the one in that book, was sitting in a small light wood frame on Jack's kitchen table where we sat enjoying one of his favorite meals - carry out orange chicken - while listening to the broadcast via the internet. I asked Jack where he got that picture, which is named "Prince of Peace". He said "Drew had this on his shelf in his room. Who keeps a picture of Jesus with him?" Uh-huh. Later I learned that the picture was given to him by his Grandparents Judith and Wayne Rolfs. It was when Drew had his own large apartment. Since then, he moved into a much smaller one room rental in a government assisted home. Most of his possessions did not make the move - but this picture did. I have since learned this picture was a gift to Judith Rolfs and Wayne Rolfs who had visited a book club one night traveling in the Carolina's at a Church called St. Gregory's. (My full name). When I was confirming the story with her Judith reminded me that the unsolicited prophesy over Drew's life by one Ruth Kempkin was when he was 8 years old (placing her hands on Drew she said "This child will be used mightily of God.") at a church called St. Andrew's (Drew's legal name). Drew having this picture in his room when he died - THIS Jesus - makes it good enough for a one in million shot for me.
I look at the eyes now in color on the picture above from "Heaven is for Real". Hmmm. Those eyes are similar in their "ethereal beauty" described by Inez Dawes in her encounter with Jesus at age 17 in 1925 in the University Hospital in Minneapolis. I once interviewed her as a 92 year old woman in February of 2000. She claimed to have "died, saw hell, and met Jesus" Inez described Jesus' eyes as "so beautiful, just beautiful- I won't ever see eyes like that until I see him again- they were effervescent, luminescent, translucent". One day in 2004, I had Drew, Jack, and their mother Tamara on a family ride through South Milwaukee. We "happened" into the Basilica and Timothy Dolan (leading Catholic in the U.S. and current Archbishop of NY) "happened" to be there available for a chat in the aisle. I shared with him about my interview with Inez. I had taped it but lost track of it. (It has since been found and gone viral on YouTube with over 1/4 million views.) Her description of Jesus was exactly what the famous Catholic Divine Mercy painting had in it - to a tee. Oh by the way- the 7 foot tall Divine Mercy painting "happened" to be touring the U.S. and was on display up at the alter at that very church that day! A head shot of that exact painting is seen here. Timothy Dolan heard me out, then calmly observed: "I believe the old woman." Then slowly turning to the painting and pointing to it he said "Therefore that painting must be authentic." I took that as a verbal Imprimatur. The history of the painting can be seen here.
Those eyes - see through, blue or green were they...always beautiful. The prophet Ron had told me Drew had a choice to come back. We had tried to raise him from the dead. After an hour of travailing in front of his coffin, I heard Drew laughing and saying "Dad, you're being ridiculous." Ron told me with a boyish smile "But he's seen Jesus- why would he come back?" Judith told me God whispered a similar, soft but matter of fact gentle reminder that what we had to offer Drew here was not better than what He had. (I'm paraphrasing). Something better came up - the actual real Heaven. Because after all, Heaven is for real.
In Hebrews 11:40 Ron pointed out I am to finish Drew's race for him here on Earth - and he sits at the edge of Heaven cheering me on. It states "For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us." - Drew needs us - me - "to help him finish" Ron said. In the next verse 12:1, it states "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses" -NIV. Let's talk about that- because it is the 5th "One in a million shot". In 1985, I went to a Roberts Liardon event on the east side of Detroit. I brought a friend (Ron Frederick) who would get saved that night. His ticket to get in was given to him by none other than Robin Sullivan. Roberts described a trip to Heaven when he was six- 50% older than the age of the boy who saw heaven in the book "Heaven is for real". On his visit- he described a stadium where people gather to cheer for those on earth who repent, etc. They are "surrounding these people". I have always believed since then there was this stadium,these stands. Now keep in mind Drew's brother Jack had seen Drew in a vision while he was being prayed for. Drew was "standing next to God or a large angel who had his massive arms crossed. Drew was leaning on this angel with one arm- wearing a baseball cap sideways, smiling, laughing, then bouncing around flashing Jack the peace sign." Then came the calls from Meg, Drew's first cousin, daughter of my sister Joanne. "Uncle Greg- I am having a recurring dream about Drew- it's always the same. His eyes are so blue, the sky is so vivid, we discuss Colleen (Meg's sister) my family, and that everything is ok- fine. He's happy Uncle Greg." I asked Meg "Where were you when this took place?" Meg said "Every time, we're sitting in some stands (like at a football game)."
Bam. That's 5 folks- you've been a great audience, and I'm out of here. No really- that's 5 one in a million shots. Anyone can win a one in a million. But 5? In a row? Related to the very thing I covet- comfort in Drew's passing- in an exact, direct answer to prayer? THAT is a statistical impossibility. But hey, this isn't for you. It's for me. I am that man with an experience- and no longer at the mercy of a man with an argument. My friend Hope recently told me "God is simply telling you he's paying attention to you and cares." And I hear him. By the way, Hope has that same Jesus from the book hanging in her house, and suggested I read the book "Heaven is for Real" before she knew this story. But while gold flecks like that are good, they didn't become the top 5. The top 5 are ridiculous. The top 5 are impossible combined. But happen they did- to me! What do I conclude from this? It's like I heard God tell me in the shower the other day. "When you think of Drew, think of two words and stick with them. Drew is Alive and Drew is Happy." What more could a father want for a son? And so I'll finish my race- and perhaps some of Drew's, until we are hugging each other again in Heaven where we'll party like it's 1999.
PS: Funny thing about the day Drew died, April 3rd. Turns out, no matter how you Google it, Jesus died on the same day. Hey, every miracle helps.
(Results below from organic search "The date Jesus died").
April 3rd - The day Jesus...and Drew...died.