The sun has not shone in Los Angeles since our friend Greg Dawson died last week. It is the middle of July…in CALIFORNIA…and the sun has not shone. Coincidence? I think not.
Yesterday at his funeral, the sky actually opened up and wept with all of us. I’ve lived in California all my life. Never before do I remember it raining in July.
It was a beautiful but heartwrenching service. His friends and family who spoke did so with such eloquence, but endless tears. My husband Troy played guitar while a friend sang one of Greg’s songs. The service was two and a half hours long, standing room only. I would have expected nothing less.
This was a man who was absolutely beloved by every single person who knew him. Each person who spoke said they never heard him say a bad word about anyone. That was confirmed by all of his family members in their eulogies. What a legacy. If nothing else, I would like that to be my legacy, too.
Troy had to perform in San Diego immediately after the service. It was unbearable to drive away in separate cars. We talked and cried on our cell phones, driving opposite directions, until I was pulled over by a cop (against the law, I know.). When he saw me crying, the memorial photo of Greg on the front seat and the pile of Kleenex, he let me go.
Every time I turned on the radio, it was a song meant especially for my ears. The first was “Miss You” by the Stones. The second song was “Carry On My Wayward Son”….complete sobfest. I turned off the radio.
I drove two hours in silence, thinking, remembering…All these scenes ran through my mind. A few years ago at our friend Cam’s Christmas party, I got up to sing a Gladys Knight song …All of a sudden Greg and Cam and a few other friends jumped up to be my “Pips”. They had never heard the song, but they started making up background parts and dance steps. It was hysterical, and they were actually GOOD! That’s how Greg was. Fun, outgoing, silly, up for anything.
Maybe one of the reasons this is hitting me so damn hard is that Greg was so much like my husband. He was kind, sweet, sunny and good-natured, loved by everyone who knew him, caring, funny, creative, talented, adventurous, spontaneous. He was the kind of person you just felt good being around. Everyone talked about his hugs, and how wonderful he was with children and animals. I mean, really….how many freekin people like that exist in this world? Now Melanie is without him, and Connor will grow up with only photos and memories. With one switch of fate, it could have been me in Melanie’s shoes. I held Melanie’s hand as I promised to be there for her on the long road ahead. In her eyes was unbearable, soul wrenching pain. I felt it rip right through me, my heart pierced, my mind repeating it’s mantra…why, why,why, why…..
Sadly, today also marks one year since Troy’s best friend Dave lost his twelve-year-old daughter Alanna in a car accident. Last July was just as unbearable. Such unimaginable grief. One year without Alanna, the little girl who everyone said was the kindest, most loving girl who accepted everyone. It’s always the good ones….No, the sun should not shine today. It should not.
Lying in the dark last night, I remembered a time that Troy and I were in New Mexico visiting our friend Joe, who is a rabbi. We were sitting outside at night under that huge New Mexico sky full of stars, drinking scotch, smoking cigars, and talking about the mysteries of life. Joe shared with us a philosophy of the Jewish Faith. He said when each of us dies, we must leave a little bit undone, something for the next generation to pick up and continue.
I was so heartbroken that Greg had died with music still in him, dreams unfulfilled, work unfinished, a child yet to be raised into a man. But remembering Joe’s words, I realized it’s up to us now to pick up the loose threads of his life tapestry, and continue to weave.
So many threads he left… of kindness, creativity, hope, love, music, friendship. He left us all the gift of each other, the friendships we have formed through him. He left us the work he hired us to do. He left us Melanie and Connor.
We are weary and hurting, but we will pick up and carry on, just as Greg, and Alanna, would want us all to do. We will try our best to remember their lessons of kindness and acceptance. I will strive to leave a legacy of “never saying a bad word about anyone”.
Every one of us has lost someone we loved at some time in our lives, but we are still here. We live. We walk the Earth with their stories alive inside us. Love can never be erased. Memories can never be taken away. We are richer for having loved them.
Let us pick up those threads, and continue the work ….
Hollye, Having lost my best friend 12 years ago not a day goes by when she isn't with me. In thoughts, deeds but most importantly in her children who were 6 and 9 at the time. It is amazing to see her in them every day. You too can be the memory of Greg for Conner. Have you ever followed Bruce Feiler. Check him out. He wrote a book about his group of men he formed when he got a diagnosis of cancer. He has lived but he still keeps his circle of men for his daughters. It gives everyone hope. So sorry for you lose. Being Jewish I have heard that before and it give solace.
Heartfelt, Brilliant. You are blessed to have known and appreciated such a friendship and in time you will embrace Melanie, Connor along with Troy and Evan and you will weave the next phase of Greg's legacy. Peace.
Remember his life and smile!
I, too, lost a friend and fellow teaching partner last spring. He was too young to die. When we held his memorial, a double rainbow shone over us. The universe is mysterious and powerful!