It seems nearly impossible to imagine that eight years have gone by since Greg passed. Maybe it feels that way because he was simply the picture of health: a 6-foot, 4-inch, slim young man who wore a size 15 shoe. How could he possibly leave this earth? But leave it, he did, on Dec. 11, just moments after texting his fiancee.
Greg was my dear friends, Pam and Ray’s third-born child. Their first, little Meredith, passed shortly after birth. Then came Rachel, the beauty. Then there was Greg, the sweetheart. I don’t think Greg ever met a stranger. He was my son’s confirmation sponsor just weeks before his sudden death. I was his sponsor a decade or so before.
Greg was brave. When he tackled my yard full of tree scrub, I had to literally pull him off the limbs so he’d take a breather. He was a volunteer fireman, too. With Ray serving as a fireman, it seemed natural for Greg to help humanity in a similar fashion. And then there was his job.
But the most brave act of Greg’s life was when he decided to be a donor. After he died, his beautiful fair skin was donated to burn victims; his eyes were given to those who had lost their sight, the long bones in his legs and arms were donated, too.
Maybe that’s why I was attracted to Sarah Gray’s book, "A Life Everlasting: The Extraordinary Story of One Boy’s Gift to Medical Science." In this touching memoir, Gray tells the tragic story of being pregnant with twins, only to discover one of her sons had anencephaly, a terminal condition. As she awaits the birth of Callum and Thomas, she searches for meaning for her unborn child’s impending death. That’s when she discovers the possibility of giving life through Thomas’ death. In fact, Gray’s search for his gifts takes her to the research hospitals where his cells, eyes and organs were taken.
Gray says, "I was actually excited to be able to donate. This was the one good thing that might come from my son’s death. I was like, ‘Please, please, take everything you can.’ Donating had lifted my burden, not made it heavier."
I often wonder where Greg’s eyes are. I wonder how many people he helped with his skin and bones. But that’s what Greg was all about. Helping others.
I know his parents miss him every day, but the hurting is so much worse on Dec. 11, the day the Lord called him home. I just hope and pray that some day when they are called to the Lord, they see that boy’s sweet smile, his arms ready to hold them. The beautiful gift of Greg.