I remember how proudly we showed him off when he came to visit us in college. I remember how when I went to Boston that first time, a sophomore in college, first trip to Boston. First trip by myself as an adult, Greg and Gwydion wouldn't let me pay for anything. I tried. And Gwyd shook it off silently but with a smile, and Greg took me aside and said that he was proud and honoured to pay for things, but that, like everything in life, it comes with a price.
And he was serious and solemn as he told me the price he extracted for the favours, for the kindnesses, for the love he gave me with every breath. "When you're in a position, when you can, pay it forward. Give generously and open-heartedly to the people around you who need it."
I think I laughed, because when you're 18 and in college it seems like there will never be a time when you're an adult, a self-sufficient, employed, productive member of society.
"You'll get there." he said and hugged me. Because he always had faith in me. Even when I didn't have any in myself.
When he told me he was moving to Charlottesville, it felt like he might as well have told me he was moving to the moon. So far away. How was I going to be okay without him here, being my support? Now, it was time for me to supportive of him and his dreams, and his life. I questioned and cross-questioned him at every turn, and he said, "Marci, I have to do this. I have to know if Maya is the one. I can't do that from here. I need to be fully invested in."
"Okay." I said. And I stopped questioning and started supporting.
One morning, a few years back, I called Greg at 9:30 in the morning. He was surprised to hear from me. Normally we confine our calls to weekday afternoons (Greg has a long (boring) commute home.) And I said, "Are you free for lunch?"
"Where are you?"
"Just leaving DC heading to Louisville."
"And you couldn't have called me before to tell me."
"We weren't sure we'd have time to see you."
"Let me call you back. I'll see if Maya is free."
And she wasn't that time, but Greg met us for lunch near Maya's office and we went to see her afterwards. Afterwards we always tried to give them advance notice of when were randomly dropping in, because we did that. Sometimes we'd go down to them Charlottesville and sometimes they'd come up to DC. But always we made time for each other.
When we met, he was a big brother, older, wiser, supporting me. Our relationship evolved into a relationship of equals, each bringing our unique strenghts and merits. And if you find me wise, strong, generous, and open-hearted, you find me that way because of Greg. Because when my character was being formed, I had a friend, a mentor, a guide who showed me how to live in a harsh world and still give love, wisdom, and support in every sense of the word.
I love you, Greg.