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My Letter to the Community at Greg's Memorial Service

Shared by Lucinda Herring on June 9, 2021
Many people have asked me for the words that I wrote, and Marilyn Strong so beautifully read, at Greg's memorial service.  Since those words were not really a tribute to Greg, I have chosen to put them here. Yet they are not a story either. So I'll preface them with a little story first: 

Greg and I arrived on Whidbey Island the very same day in the summer of 1988.  We were both participants in a workshop at the Chinook Learning Center, led by Marilyn Strong, Jerry Wennstrom, and Fritz and Vivienne Hull.  (Jerry posted a photo of that workshop on this site.)  I was camping, and I slept outside in Sanctuary Meadow ( this was before there was a labyrinth there.)  Greg joined me in the meadow in his sleeping bag. That night I had a powerful dream.  I saw a pair of bare feet, winged like Mercury, beneath the hem of a white robe.  These feet led me through all the trails at Chinook to a beautiful forest doorway. The winged feet stepped through the doorway, and I heard the words, "Move here to the island."  I was going through a painful divorce, and was a single parent of Eliza, who was then only 3 years old. When I woke up the next morning I knew I would move to Whidbey, though I didn't know how.  I shared this dream and my knowing with Greg in the early morning light. I remember we walked down to the farmhouse together for breakfast, and Greg was with me when I told the group about my experience.  Everyone made a circle around me, and blessed my decision.  I didn't know at the time, but Greg was also considering moving to Whidbey.  After the workshop, we stayed in touch, and we supported each other to both move to the island that fall.  That was the beginning of our deep friendship of 33 years.  Greg was always there for me.  He was a true brother, and soul friend in my life.  I am so grateful for his love.   

For Greg and for Our Community
May 30, 2021  

Imagination, to me, is a living, powerful faculty that can help heal and transform even the hardest of experiences, as long as we are also willing to be present to what is.  I have been calling on my imaginative powers each day since I learned of Greg’s decision and death, and it has been so helpful, because I am far away and grieving Greg’s death alone, without my friends and community.

As you hear these words, know that I am imagining being there with you all, grieving and celebrating Greg together.  I imagine leaning into one another for steadiness and support, sharing, crying, laughing and singing, always singing our beloved Greg Home.

I imagine calling Greg on the phone instead of texting him when I did.  He tried to reach me the weekend before he took his life. I texted him: I’ll speak to you on Monday.  But I didn’t speak to him on Monday, and he probably died that night or early Tuesday morning.  This raw reality will haunt me the rest of my life.  So, for my own self-care, but also for Greg, I imagine now in my mind reaching him that day, what I would have told him - how much I love him; how grateful I am for our deep friendship of 33 years.  I tell him everyday now in my heart that I am working hard to understand and respect why he had to go. I honor the courage he had at the end. I bless his way. 

Greg asked me to care for him after death if he died first.  Yet his choice made all those plans impossible.  A community home vigil was something Greg wanted at one time, so I created it for him in my heart and imagination and I asked him to join me if he could from the other side, to help balance the experience of lying in a cold morgue up in Oak Harbor all alone. 

I want you all to know that  we created a wonderful vigil for Greg.  Washing and  anointing his wounded body with sacred oils; bringing him warmth and comfort, surrounding him with candlelight,  May blossoms,  and beautiful tapestries.  Dressing him in a fine linen shirt and expensive tailored pants from Good Cheer, because he was so proud he didn’t pay much for them!;  folding his arms gently over his tender and broken heart.   We ate abundant good food in his name, gluten free of course, and toasted him with fine wine.  We gathered around our Greg, and we never left him alone – we held him, we met him, and we sang and we sang him Home. 

A few days after Greg died, I dreamed of him, and I heard the words:  “Greg suffered from a lack and failure of imagination.”  In the end, he could not imagine any other recourse but death as a way out of his pain.  I sense that Greg needs imagination even more strongly now on the other side. That he needs us still. Not in the burdensome way that so many of us felt in the end, despairing of ever giving him enough to ease his pain.  But in more joyful, light-filled playful ways. Ways that come easy to us, and to him, and can bring some semblance of hope and resolution and peace to bless us all.  

There are already such beautiful imaginings emerging from the shared shock and grief of our community:  Greg as a ballet dancer again, clad in white, his heart on fire; Greg as a radiant sunbow/rainbow- over-lighting the places, the people, the Langley that he loved;  Greg cradled in the arms of Mother Mary; Greg as a potential source of great healing now, especially at Healing Circles, transforming his fierce and tragic deed there, and able to give and receive help and love, able to meet and be met,  in ways he always longed for in life, and never believed he could have. 

My prayer is that our shared imaginings can create a powerful living field of blessing and possibility for Greg now – a vast resource that he can draw upon in the days to come.

May death be tender with you, dear friend; may death dissolve and transform the obstacles that kept you bound.  May you know the wonder and spaciousness of your true nature.  May you receive and rest in how much you are loved and cherished, how much we are imagining - knowing - that you are whole again and free, that you have finally found your Self and found your Home.   

My love is with you always, dear Greg.
Journey well...

Loving Friend

Shared by Sheila Merritt on May 31, 2021
Four years ago my husband was hospitalized suddenly. It was an extremely difficult time. I needed help with my home (feed the cats) while I was with him in the hospital. I called Greg. When I came home two days later, the cats were fed and there was wood chopped and stacked by the door. He gave of himself when he could. I will never forget his kind, generous helping hand. 
There are so many other fond memories of Greg!  

      He gave Stephen and I private dance lessons. It was truly a remarkable experience how seamless he was able to teach us!  Plus, as a bonus, unexpectedly we received a couples therapy session with the dance moves. He was insightful, thought provoking, and very gifted. 
     Most of all, I loved how much he enjoyed when I cooked a gluten-free meal for him.

     Our hearts are mourning. May these memories be a blessing for a beautiful, kind, sensitive, loving friend.

Dearest Greg

Shared by Mari Campbell on May 28, 2021
We met you back in the mid 80’s when many of us landed here on Whidbey. Many gatherings with good food, conversation and music. You accompanied our blossoming musician daughter in her early foray into performing on stage at WICA. Always kind and encouraging. Your bright light shone whenever we got to spend time together or just a quick stop when you were riding your bike past our place in Maxwelton. Always that smile and twinkle in your eyes. I guess I thought we’d see you until we all grew old. You are missed, beautiful one. We are glad to have known you 

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