Have you ever seen a monarch butterfly? They are spectacular. They flash color through the sky and then after a time so short it’s painful to contemplate they are gone. Their beauty touches our hearts, and the brevity of time we have with them breaks our hearts.
I will remember Draylen for who he was and the life he lived. Draylen touched thousands of lives. I can’t begin to count the number of people who have come to me with his stories. I was at a concert at SXSW two weeks ago. In the middle, a break was taken, and Draylen was celebrated.
Here is what I know of Draylen Mason: He loved. He is loved. He had a rare talent. He worked hard at it. He appreciated his teachers and mentors, and they loved him. He supported his peers. He was kind. He was generous. He was the best of us.
And now, after way too short a time, he’s gone.
But like the Monarch butterfly, he was beautiful.
His parting gift to this city, the legacy of the tragedy of these past three weeks, is that his death has caused our city to look again at who we are, to acknowledge that each of us has a different experience of a life in Austin and that we see our worlds differently based on who we are and where we live.
Draylen has gifted this city an important opportunity, a unique chance to focus and to come to terms with that basic truth. If we accept his gift, we will be a better and stronger city.
I pledge for myself, and for the larger community to honor Draylen with a pledge to reach deep and to find the equanimity and equity that live somewhere in all our hearts, to meet and know and help and ask for help from our neighbors — from all our neighbors — across the street and across the city. We’ve got to get each other’s back.
I will remember Draylen. Like a monarch butterfly, he spent his time on earth dazzling us. He touched so many lives, and now, his embrace will hold a city.