The words that follow will undoubtedly fall short of the deep sincerity that I am attempting to convey. I met Greg at Stanford, he as a surgery resident and myself as a secretary in the ER. We quickly became friends. I knew early on that this was a unique human being that would affect me in unimaginable ways and surpass the meaning of the word ‘friend’. I was right. Here are just 2 of my precious memories of Greg…
My father was very ill and hospitalized at Stanford. I received a call telling me that my father had suffered respiratory failure and then severe heart failure and was on his way to the ICU. I was trapped at another job, nannying for an infant, and unable to get to the hospital as quickly as I would have liked. In my state of fear and panic, I texted Greg and said “my dad coded. please keep an eye on him until I can get there.” Greg was at my father’s bedside in minutes. Greg comforted my mother and brother until I could arrive. Greg sat across from me, held my hands and looked deeply into my eyes and shed tears with me. It was one of the scariest moments of my life and he was there with me in a way that I will never forget. His love and support continued, unselfishly, every time I turned to him.
Greg invited me to be his date to last year’s surgery holiday party. We had a phenomenal time. I had a phenomenal time watching him get to enjoy himself outside of the hospital world. I showed up at his house and he couldn’t decide between a skinny tie or a bow tie. He told me to choose. I chose the bow tie. It was a hit that night. He was such a gentleman that night and it was a night that neither of us wanted to end. That night was filled with colleagues he admired and who admired him back, dancing and pure enjoyment. We slow danced like kids and sang obnoxious britney spears lyrics at each other. I remember feeling like the luckiest girl in the world that night. I actually was.
Greg was the person I turned to to make sense out of every senseless experience in my life the last 3 years. Greg gracefully instilled deeper thought, deeper laughter, and deeper love in me. I adored him. And he made me feel adored. Although Greg and I hadn’t spoken in recent months he was never far from my thoughts. I could handle that he and I were no longer an active part of one another’s lives, but the thought of him not being to so many others what he was to me is heart breaking. He has been the most meaningful man in my life, without a doubt. He was a fierce, unforgettable soul and he will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I so desperately wish I could have been his rock, as he was always mine. My deepest condolences are with you, your brother, your parents and the nieces he so joyfully spoke of. I will forever miss him. And I will forever feel lucky to have shared as much as we did.
May you forever feel his enduring presence and love in your life.
There’s one more exchange I’d like to share with you. The night before my first mental health clinical rotation I texted him that I was nervous and what if I turned out to be a terrible nurse. I asked him to wish me luck. He texted back with “one does not need luck to care for human beings in pain, it’s in you. you were made for this”.
He set the bar for how to treat people. And I’ll follow his lead as best I can.