Help Dru Barnes memorialize his father

Those who know me well know my lifelong friend Dru. We've been close since our high school years in the 90's. We didn't live in the same town or go to the same school, but so many of my memories from that time involve Dru.

Those who know Dru may or may not be aware of the challenges he's faced along his journey. Looking back, high school seems like such a simple time for many, but nothing was simple for Dru. He was 8 years old when his family came to the US from Jamaica. And as the officials drew up the family's papers, they had somehow missed Dru's....

He would eventually get those papers in adulthood. But as a result of that critical error, through no fault of his own, Dru was unable to work a regular job once he came of age to do so. Instead, he helped his family with the care of his foster siblings after school... He worked on his art, his writing, his music... He taught himself Spanish by watching TV novelas...  He made and inspired friends wherever he went... And in the 25 years I've known him, I don’t think I've ever heard him complain.

Dru's family was always deeply spiritual, being the founders of a Pentecostal church. At some point during his teenage years Dru found Nichiren Buddhism, and introduced it to many of his friends. I watched the practice transform his life from a set of circumstances seemingly out of his control, to something he dreamed and defined himself with his own art, faith, and patience...

In 2013 Dru was brutally attacked while walking home from a friend's place in Brooklyn... The details are hard to process.... It was a pivotal event that shook the course of Dru's life. Instead of focusing on the next phase of his art, he was forced to fight for his life... 

As Dru recovered physically over time, it would still be a long road to recovery over that traumatic event... 

And still, when his dad's health began to decline 5 years ago -- just a year after the attack, while he was still in bandages -- Dru put his life and career on hold so he could be there with his dad as his caretaker.  His dad required dialysis daily for his diabetes, and he relied upon Dru to get by day to day...

About a year ago, Dru received a phone call while caring for his dad. His brother, who had moved back to Jamaica 8 years earlier, had died in a tragic car accident. But there was no way for Dru to get back to Jamaica to be with the family...

At the height of the pandemic, Dru awoke at 7am to find his dad's body lying peacefully in bed. He had passed away in the night... 

He had become unwell two weeks earlier from Kidney failure. Dru did everything he could do to keep him stable. The doctors only occasionally contacted them through Zoom. They were hesitant to send him to the hospital for care, due to 'the pandemic.'  

The night before his dad's passing the doctors said, "Let’s see how things are in the morning." And although he was never tested for anything, or placed in any professional care before his passing, the official death certificate read 'possible Covid.' 

It made the grieving process that much more brutal... Compounded with no family contact or hugs from friends and loved ones, it felt like something surreal...  And despite deep spiritual conflict, Dru's only option was to cremate the body...

His abrupt passing has left Dru with enormous bills and funeral costs, and now the expenses of moving from his dad's home. With no life insurance and no other family assistance, we are asking for your support.

Dru would like to take the ashes to his birth place in Jamaica, and hold a memorial for him there with family, where he can be properly laid to rest.

Your donation will help to cover the costs associated with the mortuary services, airfare to Jamaica, and memorial services for his family.

It will also cover Dru's moving expenses so that he can re-calibrate in his own space, to take time and process the events of the last few weeks and years, and to use what he's learned to fuel his work as a healing artist.

Deepest gratitude for taking time to read Dru’s story. Please donate what you can. Sharing this post is also a way to help by getting the word out.
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Organizer and beneficiary

Dru Barnes
Brooklyn, NY
Dru Barnes

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