Monday, December 28, 2015

Love story, part infinity

Greg Taylor (1975-2015)
My beloved husband, Greg Taylor, passed away on December 25, 2015, Christmas afternoon, around 2:30 pm.

I would like to share our love story.


We met on Craigslist (yes, Craigslist--they have a dating site). On a Sunday afternoon, September 23, 2007, I answered his personal ad and we exchanged our first emails. His personals posting had the heading as simply "hi" and the post was a list of funny and random things about him, including "I'm taller than you, even if you're tall."

I responded with "hi back" and a corresponding list, including "I'm shorter than you, even if you're short. But most people say I don't 'look' short."


We met for the first time on a Friday night, September 28, after work in front of the (now gone) Virgin Megastore in Union Square. I arrived first, and was listening to my iPod. As he approached, I removed my headphones, got flustered because he was so handsome, and my earbuds got tangled. I handed them to him to hold for a second, a gesture he for some reason found endearing and would mention for years later. We decided to walk and find a place to eat, and ended up at Yaffa Cafe on St. Mark's Street (also now gone). For many years later, on September 28 we would go back and meet in front of the Virgin Megastore, which eventually was turned into a Duane Reade drugstore (of course).


We sat in the back courtyard and talked and talked and talked. He was a fifth-grade teacher, I was a children's book editor, he was studying history in grad school, I was always thirsty to learn more about everything. I liked sushi, he didn't eat raw meat. I had gone skydiving, he preferred his feet on the ground. But we couldn't stop looking into each other's eyes. His eyes were the most beautiful blue-gray. He told me they changed colors in the light, and I later discovered that they were sometimes flecked with green.


I had a birthday party to attend later that night in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, and asked him if he wanted to come with me. When he agreed, I knew he liked me. (He had told me earlier that he hated Williamsburg.) He told me later that when I asked him to come with me, he knew I liked him, too.


Now here's the "falling in love" montage. Kissing like there was no tomorrow. Going for walks--he showed me his neighborhood in Brooklyn and we walked to the Brooklyn museum and watched a dog frolic in the jumping fountain. It was there that we took our first picture together:



This is also the hat he wore when we first met.
Meeting each other's friends. House and dog sitting out in New Jersey (he LOVED dogs). Teaching me to play golf (he LOVED golf). Drinking a lot of wine (he LOVED wine). Introducing me to opera. Going to parties and weddings together, going to lots and lots of diners. (Later, when we briefly were looking to buy an apartment, it was important to us that the neighborhood have a diner.) Emails, texts, phone calls. Making each other laugh. Holidays. Supporting each other's careers.
Dog sitting Maggie, Roxie, and Caesar
He would share the books I edited with his students, especially Grace Lin's Year of the Dog, and he would proudly tell his students that he was friends with the real-life Melody who was a character in the book. When I attended his school's holiday concert, he introduced me as Melody and I was a celebrity. I later spoke to his school about being a children's book editor.

We took a trip out to Iowa together, where he spent his summers as a kid. Showing off, he took us down a backroad where we promptly got stuck in the mud and he had to call his uncle for help--they laughed and said he was a city boy now. 



Not a smart thing to do in a rental PT Cruiser
He started flying out to my parents' home in Southern California with me and ended up falling in love with California, and especially my parents' backyard. (He wanted to live there. In my parents' basement.) We played a lot of tennis and golf.


His mother was diagnosed with cancer, and he flew out to stay with her for six weeks to care for her. I went to visit him while he was there and spent Thanksgiving with his family and stayed in his childhood home.

We moved in together into his tiny 5th-floor walk-up apartment in Park Slope. The two of us and his two cats, Venus and Serena, made a nice family. And then in October 2011 he proposed, on the same rock in Central Park where my parents got engaged.

We were married less than a year later on July 21, 2012, in my parents backyard.




It was a glorious day, and we were excited to start a life together as husband and wife. 


And then he was diagnosed with cancer, synovial sarcoma, about six months after our wedding. You can read about that initial journey here. Major surgery, long recovery, chemo, and then another long recovery.


Just as Greg was starting to regain his strength, we found out that his cancer had recurred in January 2014. We knew that with Greg's type of cancer, once it came back, there was no cure. At first, Greg didn't want any treatment--he didn't want to go through chemo again. We decided to travel--to Rome, and then Paris. Greg left the US for the first time (aside from Mexico) in February 2014 and we went to Rome and had a glorious week. Before he died, Greg wanted to walk where Augustus walked.








On the night before we were to leave for Paris, he was struck by excruciating tumor pain. We stayed in Rome for another week while we stabilized the pain, and then flew back to NY where he agreed to try a pill form of chemo. We were told that if the chemo worked, it would probably only work for 3-4 months. That pill ended up working for 18 months, and although he wasn't feeling great all the time, we were able to still have a relatively stable life. The chemo turned his facial pigmentation and hair snow white. He hated how his face looked and so he covered it with facial hair. Kids especially would stare at him--either thinking he was a pirate, or Santa, or, as we joked, a pirate Santa. Twice, once in our apartment lobby, and once at the Brooklyn Museum, he had a kid point to him and say, "Look! It's a pirate!"

Right before pirate Santa decided to shave his beard off.
We went to the US Open, a few hockey games and baseball games, and took a trip down to Atlantic City to see Bob Dylan perform.

Through it all, Greg handled his illness with courage and grace. It wasn't easy by any means, but I was eternally grateful to him for how he accepted and dealt with his situation. He knew this cancer would probably kill him, and although he was terrified of dying, his goal was to get as many good days out of life as possible. He had always been loving and attentive and romantic, but these past three years, he became even more so. 


For my 40th birthday last year, because he knew he didn't have the energy to take me out or throw me a party, he threw me a cyber party instead. He got over 100 T-shirts made in our wedding colors (fuchsia and purple) with the Chinese character for "love" on the back, and my last name in Chinese "Ling" on the front, to match the tattoo on my shoulder. He sent them to friends and families all around the US, and asked them to take pictures of themselves in the shirts and email, Tweet, and Facebook the pictures to me on my birthday. Here are just a few:





He told me he needed to make sure to tell me how much he loved me as much as he could in the time he had left. He told me that I should feel comforted in knowing how much I made his life better. He told me how in awe he was that he had met me, that I had responded to that one Craigslist ad so many years ago. He left me love notes around the apartment, on my computer, in my wallet. We had so many silly inside jokes, and I'm mourning the passing of what was known only between us. And of the children we never had (he was SO GREAT with kids, and would have made an amazing father), of our future that has been cut short.

But, I'm also so so so grateful for the time we had together. I loved him unconditionally. I loved his all-enveloping hugs, his sweet kisses in the middle of the night. I think we probably laughed even more together in these past three years--it became almost a competition to make the other laugh. We made up funny dances and funny voices. He got more and more into music, especially Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and John Lennon (he admired the great love between John and Yoko), and also discovered a love for Elvis Presley, Kris Kristofferson, Motown. But, Bob Dylan above all.  


Gradually, the chemo stopped working, and Greg started having more and more pain. We tried one last chemo, which worked for two months, and we knew that we were running out of options. A few months ago, we found out that Greg had a spot in an immunotherapy trial at Sloan Kettering, and we jumped at the chance. It was a Phase 1 trial, never tested on humans, but we knew if there was someday going to be a cure, it was probably going to be through immunotherapy. But on the day he was due to start, they discovered that his liver levels were high, which disqualified him from the trial, and the doctor sent him over to the hospital to see if they could solve the problem so that he could start the trial.



He had a procedure done to help drain the bile from the liver (which they thought was causing the high levels). Unfortunately, his liver levels didn't improve, and other liver levels were starting to get high as well. We knew that he had at least one tumor in the liver, and that once the liver starts to go, it can end quickly.

Every night after I left the hospital to go home, he sent me a text. "I love you sweetheart. More than anything. You are such a superhero." His last text to me was, "You are the best thing to ever happen to me." He was the best thing to ever happen to me, too. 

Eventually, they started Greg on chemo while in the hospital, and he was released on December 23rd--we were thrilled to have him home for the holidays! This is the last picture we took together, in his hospital room while waiting for our ride home:
As my mother told Greg the last time she saw him, "You're still very handsome!"
After one night at home (Venus was ecstatic to have us both home again!), we ended up calling 911 and going to the ER in an ambulance on Christmas Eve. Greg had been struggling with nausea and ended up vomiting blood and fainting a few times. He was admitted into the ICU for observation, as they suspected internal bleeding. But, he appeared stable after getting fluids, with no symptoms aside from some weakness and dizziness.

But on Friday morning he suddenly started having seizures, and then started bleeding profusely internally. The doctors were able to stabilize him with a breathing tube and blood transfusions, but we knew there wasn't hope for a full recovery, and I knew Greg didn't want any drastic measures taken just to keep him alive. They removed the breathing tube and Greg rested peacefully for a few hours before passing on while I held his hand.

Over the two-week hospital stay, we knew that the end was coming--Greg said he didn't know if he had days, or weeks, or months, so he was going to focus on enjoying each minute with me. I'm going to focus on each minute at a time. And breathing. This last year especially, Greg was struggling, and his bad days were outnumbering his good days. Recently, he said that the pain and complications he was having were making it easier to let go. I know he is at peace now.

Greg did not want to have a funeral, but he will be buried in Iowa where he spent his summers. He wanted his body to rest under open skies.

If you want to offer some support, please donate money towards sarcoma research--if I may suggest, the Sarcoma Foundation of America: http://www.curesarcoma.org
or Mt. Sinai for Sarcoma research: https://philanthropy.mountsinai.org/waystogive

Greg started his care at Mt. Sinai with Dr. Robert Maki and Nurse Practitioner Linda Ahn (who is now at Sloan Kettering). They made the whole process more comforting for both of us, and even though I wish we had never had to meet them, I'm thankful they were in our lives. 

I'm grateful to his many doctors and nurses--at Mt. Sinai, at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and at New York Methodist. They have such a tough, important job, and see suffering and death every day.

I'm also so blessed to have such loving friends and family and colleagues, including the authors and illustrators I work with, who have supported us over the years and are mourning the loss of Greg, too. This isn't a unique journey that we traveled on--what's devastating is that so many people are touched by tragedy.

I know Greg didn't want a big deal made of his death. But, for my own healing, I wanted to acknowledge publicly what an extraordinary man he was. He was full of passions--whether it was golf, wine, watches, jewelry, opera, American history, Chinese history, Andy Kaufman, dogs, cats, lacrosse, soccer...or me!--when he loved something, he loved it with all of himself, and learned everything he could. He was supremely moral, had a kind heart, and was sometimes loyal to a fault. He was sardonic, sarcastic, self-deprecating, and silly. He could put kids at ease in seconds. He had a deep voice that got higher and lighter when he was in pain--I knew he was feeling strong when his voice was deep. He was ticklish, and especially hated when I touched his feet. He watched the same movies over and over again, memorized the best lines, and would constantly call me to watch funny scenes. He also loved pointing out continuity errors. When he was in pain, he told me it helped him when I held his hand. 

His favorite books were The Plague by Albert Camus, and Sophie's Choice by William Styron. His favorite song was "Love Minus Zero" by Bob Dylan. His favorite movie was "Deer Hunter." 

People loved to tease him--he had the kind of personality that made people feel like he could take it. But he was sometimes sensitive about it. Sometimes he just wanted people to be nice to him. He was ferocious (but nice!) when dealing with customer service, and usually got what he wanted. He hated being told what to do, but I knew he took everything in, even when he was arguing (and when he was arguing, he always sounded angrier than he really was), and was able to keep an open mind. He was always so proud of me and my career, and embarrassed me by boasting about me to everyone he knew. And he was an astonishingly good teacher--so many of his students stayed in touch with him, and I feel lucky to have met so many of them. He made a difference in their lives. He made a difference in the world. 

Although he was an introvert at heart, he was the mayor of his old block. He knew everyone and they knew him. He was buddies with all of the shop keepers--one of them helped him get up the stairs of his apartment when he came home after his surgery. They always asked me how he was doing after his surgery. He made Brooklyn into a small town. Although his time was cut short, he had a rich, fulfilling life, and so many people who loved him.

The day after his death, I remembered that he had wanted to make me a music mix before he died, and I was feeling bereft that he hadn't been able to do it. But I checked my computer just in case, and there it was, a playlist called "For Alvina" and it was like he was giving me a hug and a message from the great beyond. The last two songs on the mix are "Shelter from the Storm" and "Across the Universe."

For those of you who have read this far, thank you for bearing with me. My mother is with me now, and I've been surrounded by friends, both virtually and in person. Greg and my dear friends Donna and Daniel were with me at the hospital when he died, and took care of me that night and the next day.

And just to leave this on a note of levity, albeit one that I'm finding profound right now, this is a silly email Greg sent me while I was at work and then out to dinner about a month ago. Venus is our one remaining cat (Serena also passed away from cancer about a year ago). Warning, there is cursing ahead!:
I'm very lonely.  Venus is also lonely.  The two of us are acting like our worlds have been destroyed.  

While we cuddled - more like held on to one another as the universe battered us - she said, "Dad?"

I said, "What is it, sweetie?"

"I miss Alvina."

I said, "I do too, Venus.  I miss her too."

She asked, "Is it always going to be like this?  Is it always going to hurt this much?"

I explained to her that it will always hurt but that we will get better at dealing with it.  Eventually the wound will heal and a scar will grow in its place, making us stronger.

She said, "What?"

"Ugh," I said.  "Right now we hurt because the wound is so new.  As time passes the wound will close and a scar will form." 

She replied, "What are you talking about?  I don't have any open wounds.  I said I miss Alvina."

"It's a metaphor," I said.  "We are wounded EMOTIONALLY.  We will develop EMOTIONAL scars."

She said, "I have no idea what a metaphor is.  A metaphor?  What the fuck is a metaphor!  I'm a fucking cat.  Stop treating me like a human being, because I'm not a human being.  Also, STOP TOUCHING ME!"  

Then she swatted at me and jumped off the bed and ran into the other room.

Venus and I both miss Greg. I wait for the wound to close and the scars to form.

106 comments:

Candy Gourlay said...

I am so sorry. You write of him with so much love. Thank you for sharing your story.

David Neff said...

Thank you for sharing, tragic as it may be, the reflections on your relationship somehow make the world a better place. I'm sorry to not have been able to meet Greg, he was a great guy, likely made even better by the relationship you have shared.

rly said...

Oh Alvina... I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm so so so sorry. That was a beautiful tribute.

Maria Wen Adcock said...

You two shared a great love story. Thank you for sharing with all of us. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Katrina Goldsaito said...

Oh oh oh, Alvina. I am so heartbroken to hear this. I'm in love with him just reading this (as if knowing you wasn't enough to *know* that he must be wonderful + a Red Sox fan) Thank you for this gorgeous collection of Greg. Man, that love times infinity. I'm so sorry he's gone.

Dawn said...

Alvina, I'm so happy you were able to have so many special years with Greg. And losing him I know is going to result in a new path in your life. One where only time will help with the healing. Sending my love to you from MN, thank you so much for sharing your journey with the rest of us.

Hugs,
Dawn @ Red Sofa

Liz Meechan said...

Alvina, I am so sorry for the loss of your dear husband. My thoughts are with you. Liz Meechan

Naomi Canale said...

Dearest Alvina, I am so sorry for your loss, and although I didn’t get to know Greg personally, he had become a wonderful friend through our conversations on Twitter. So many times, he made me laugh, and his strength was beyond encouraging. He was a bright light and the world was lucky to have him. How wonderful it must have been for him to love and be loved. You’re in my heart and my prayers.


Pirate Santa

He had a jolly heart
But more than you’d know
And if he was ever hurting or crying
He wouldn’t let you know

He’d braid his beard
Tell a funny joke
That was sure to send you into a choke
All while steering his ship like a mad-man

And even through the storms
He’d look at the one he loved
His dear beloved
And wipe the rain from her face
He’d kiss her sweetly
His white beard upon her face

So now he said
I must sail on
To that place in the sky
The vast and the blue
Where I will always be thinking of you

Brandy Colbert said...

This is such a beautiful, touching tribute. I'm so very sorry, Alvina.

Debbi Michiko Florence said...

Words fail me. I am so very sorry and my heart goes out to you. What an incredible love story you and Greg shared. xo

Paula Stokes said...

What an epic love
What an epic life
What a beautiful story.
Thank you for sharing.

Shelley Johannes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah Davies said...

So very sorry. But somehow made bigger by reading about the courage and love you shared. Love and thoughts from all at Greenhouse.

Kevan Lyon said...

Dear Alvinia,
I am so sorry for your loss.

Sincere condolences,
Kevan Lyon

Sara Z. said...

This is beautiful, Alvina. I'm so sorry for your loss, so moved that you shared. Wishing you all the comfort in the world as you mourn.

Shelley Johannes said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Alvina.

diane said...

Hi Alvina,

I don't know you but have seen your posts from time to time. I'm so touched by your story, and so impressed with your mutual love. How lucky you both wer to find such love.

Dawn Kurtagich said...

I'm so honoured that you let us read this amazing love story. I wish I had met Greg in person. I think I'd have liked him, and the two of you together, a whole lot.

Love from Dawn

Tamson said...

I'm so so sorry, Alvina.

Barbara O'Connor said...

This makes me so very sad....but also happy for you that you had such great love. Thoughts with you, for sure, Alvina.

Bethany Hegedus said...

Sending love. Thank you for sharing the spirit of the generous man who loved with his whole being.

I read this just the other day and wanted to share it with you now:

http://magazine.good.is/articles/best-comment-ever

Anonymous said...

Such a touching, love-filled story. I know it has helped you heal just by writing it. Thank you. I am 15 years into missing my husband who died suddenly without the chance to say things & know it was coming so there is that small blessing for you. Yes you will go on, just put one foot in front of the other.
Cathy Bonnell

Rose Phillips said...

Beautiful post. Like your love. Like him...like you. Hugs.

JenFW said...

Oh, Alvina. I'm so sorry for your loss. And I'm so glad you have Grace--the capitalized one and the lowercase one--to help you through this.

People you don't know send you peace, love, and hugs.

Dave Patneaude said...

I caught a glimpse of why Greg fell in love with you when you conducted a workshop for our SCBWI group in Seattle several years ago. And you've made it beautifully evident why you fell in love with him. They don't make many like him. So sorry for your loss, but thank you for sharing your story.

Mary Ryan said...

I met you at Chautaque several years ago and have followed your career and your postings on Facebook. I smiled when you married and your smile was so true. As I read this incredible tribute to your dearest, I cried bittersweet tears. You were lucky to have met your husband and the payment for that love is the searing pain of loss.

Time does help with the sharpest pain but grief is a strange emotion - showing up when you least expect it. My wish for you is to scab quickly and remember all the love you were blessed to have.
Mary Ryan
Bird Island, MN

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Alvina, for taking time from your terrible loss to share your amazing Greg with those of us not lucky enough to have met him. Lots of love to you (and Venus) and may more of these wonderful memories console you. Bina

LBE said...

I am so sorry and my thoughts are with you. Your love story is so amazing, vibrant and touching. You both cared and loved each other with such a pure love. I wish for you gentle memories and good family and friends to help in these next days. Know that here in Wisconsin, I am sending you love and healing as best I can through these simple words.
Lisa

Diane Mayr said...

I'm so very sorry, Alvina. I wish you peace.

rhcrayon said...

Alvina,
Damon and I are so, so sorry for your loss. You and Greg were obviously perfect for each other. You both found bloomabilities everywhere.

Love and Big Hugs,
Rita and Damon

Sashi K said...

I don't know you personally but thank you for sharing what you wrote. I hope it brought you some comfort to write and share about such an amazing human. Sending love and light.

arbor16 said...

Thinking of you. What a loss. They you wrote about your love was breathtakingly honest and loving and I couldn't stop reading. I heard you speak in Seattle at SCBWI years ago. May arms hold you tight.

Journeywoman said...

Alvina,

I am so sorry for your terrible loss. You and Greg shared something wonderful.
I wish you love, light, and all the comfort in the world.

Pam Lebedda

Keisha Martin said...

So sorry for your loss I too lost my spouse he had a rare disease, writing about the love of your life is a great way to pay tribute to him, and although it hurts and only you can define the pain of the loss the memories you shared will be a constant light in your life, that's how I am getting through the days laughing and reflecting on the early days.

Jennifer K. Mann said...

Alvina, it's impossible to read this gift you have given to all of us, and not respond. Thank you for sharing your story of Greg and You. It is beautiful. I am so sorry that Greg has left this earth, and clearly he lives on in you and the memories you and others have of him.

Diane Kress Hower said...

Alvina,

Thank you for sharing your love story. Your courage and love shine through for your sweetheart. I am saddened for your loss. Wishing you much love and healing.

Diane

Ioana Hobai said...

I am so sorry for your tragic loss. Words fail me, so I hope that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's words might bring you some comfort.
"All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems... But all these stars are silent. You-You alone will have stars as no one else has them... In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night..You, only you, will have stars that can laugh! And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me... You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure... It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh."

Trina said...

Oh, Alvina. Such an incredible account of a truly wonderful- sounding man. Sending you and your family love

Kathy Temean said...

Oh, Alvina.

I am so sorry you have lost the love of your life. So sad. I am glad you shard your love story, since I know that writing about your loss can help lessen the pain. I pray for you to find good days and that the pain you are feeling now will fade.

Kathy

Frieda Wishinsky said...

I'm a kids book author and someone posted this. It's beautiful and made me feel like I know you and knew Greg. You were both so lucky to have each other. It made me realize how lucky anyone who has a great love is in a fragile world. Frieda Wishinsky

I.W. Gregorio said...

Alvina, holding you in the light, always. Thank you for this impossibly beautiful tribute, and for being a source of joy to so many.

Unknown said...

Hi Alvina,
I'm crying at reading this. What a beautiful story--your story.
My thoughts are with you at this time. I'm so sorry about Greg.
-Ann

Lisa Von Drasek said...

Dear Alvina,
Thank you for sharing your life with us. I am so sorry for your loss. Lisa

anitanolan said...

Alvina, I am so sorry to read of the death of your husband, and am impressed with your ability to write of it so eloquently so soon after his passing. My husband died of liver cancer in June, and there are so many similarities in our journeys. My husband was also a good, kind man, and I miss him so. As time passes the open wound does scar over, but it will always be there, a tribute to the love you had. For those of you who are blessed with a wonderful spouse, tell them you love them and hug them as often as you can. You can never say it/hug them too often.

Vicki Tremper said...

So very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your beautiful love story. Wishing you peace and comfort in this difficult time.

Audrey said...

What a beautiful tribute, and what unbearable heartbreak. Thank you for a glimpse into your charmed life with Greg. It felt like a privilege to read it. I ache for you but what will linger is your love for each other--profound, true, and forever.

Jean Davis said...

What a great writer you are. What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing Greg with us. I loved the cyber-party he threw for your 40th birthday. I'm sorry for your loss.

MotherReader said...

I read every bit of your beautiful, heartbreaking story, and am grateful to be a witness to his life and your love. It's such a lovely tribute. So very sorry for your loss.

Steph Campbell said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your beautiful love story with us all. Hoping peace and strength find you.

Nikki said...

Alvina, I am so deeply sorry for your loss.

Stacy Whitman said...

I'm so sorry. I had heard he was in remission, but hadn't heard about the recurrence. I only met him a few times, but he was so kind when I did. I'm so glad you have good friends and family with you right now.

Elana K Arnold said...

I am so, so sorry. Thank you so much for sharing your story. What a beautiful love.

Shana said...

What a beautiful tribute Alvina. I am so glad you and he had each other and so deeply sorry for your unfathomable loss. My heart and thoughts go out to you. May his memory be a blessing.

Anne Nesbet said...

I am so terribly sorry. Your husband was clearly an exceptionally wonderful human being, and your love for each other was a great gift, and I just so wish you had had many, many more years together.....

PAMELA ROSS said...

Dearest Alvina:
I feel as if I walked into a movie as the credits rolled.
I sat down in a seat and waited for the film to begin anew.
The lights are low. The screen is bright.
And then your voice is heard, strong and sure, a powerful voiceover as images of your life and Greg's life splash out into the darkness, kissing the audience and comforting us. Our heart doesn't want to accept the inevitable ending our head tells us is on its way.

And yet, here I sit, stunned and shocked, unable to talk or move.
I am weeping and I do not care who hears me.

The last time I cried like this inside a movie theatre was when I watched, yes, SOPHIE'S CHOICE.
It hurts.
I didn't know the pain you and Greg experienced as one.
But the love is the story I take home with me.
I will hold your story close to my heart.
"This is not judgment day.
Only morning.
Morning, excellent and fair."

May there be joy in the morning again. When those first moments of light appear, you know it will be Greg, smiling, laughing, holding your hand, and staring into your eyes.

Cuppa Jolie said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful tribute and love story. I hope your memories bring you great comfort as the wound closes and even after the scar has formed.

Heidi said...

So incredibly sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute. May you find solace in the love you shared.

Andrea Zimmerman said...

Thank you for sharing your love story.

Sarah Albee said...

I am so very sorry. This is a beautiful tribute and a beautiful love story. I have tears dripping into my coffee.

multiculturalism.rocks said...

You gave each other the most beautiful gift there is, and one that requires so much courage and generosity, and one that never dies not matter the storms or hurricanes. Your love for each other, as you beautifully stated, is eternal. Thinking of you.

Joanna said...

Alvina (and Venus) I am so sorry that this amazing love story was cut short. What a beautiful man and memories.

Beth Kephart said...

Such deeply moving love. I don't think I'll ever forget your story. Or the man you loved.

Rotem M said...

Oh Alvina, I am so, so sorry. I'm glad you have family and friends to hold you close.

Rotem

Tracy Marchini said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, Alvina. I'll be sending healing thoughts to you and your families.

Tracy

Ellen Ruffin said...

Alvina,

You have written a beautiful tribute to Greg. I'm so sorry. I wish you the healing.

Peter Lott said...

Dear Alvina,
I want to offer my deepest condolences for Greg's passing.
Thank you for such a moving, heartfelt tribute to him. You have taught us all how precious the gift of love is.

Megan Kelley Hall said...

I am heartbroken by your story and am in tears after reading all the way through. It is hard to find comfort in times like these, but from what you have written here, it seems that you and Greg shared the kind of love that most people don't have in an entire lifetime together. I believe that he will always be with you and will send you signs along the way that he is watching over you. Wishing you peace and positive energy to get through this terrible time, but also the strength to start the healing process. I'm so very sorry.

Erika said...

Alvina, although I don't know you personally I've had the pleasure of meeting you at an ALA convention. My most sincere condolences go out to you. Thank you for sharing your love story in such a beautifully written tribute to your husband Greg. May he rest in peace.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

What a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful story. My heart is with you.

uyen said...

We would all count ourselves lucky to experience even just the smallest amount of this kind of love. What a beautiful life, what a beautiful love.

Liza Woodruff said...

Alvina, I am so sorry to read of your loss, and what a great loss it is. It sounds like you two found a rare and beautiful kind of love together. I will be thinking of you and send my heartfelt condolences to you and your family.
Liza Woodruff

Erika said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers right now.

Julie said...

Alvina, I'm grieved by your loss, and touched by this tender tribute. Wishing you every comfort possible at such a time. Greg was blessed to have found you and kept you.

Nicole Newman said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful love story. I will keep you in my prayers. I am happy that you both met and fell in love. I am deeply moved by the powerful love that you both had for each other. I am heartbroken that cancer shortened your time together.

Nicole Newman said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful love story. I will keep you in my prayers. I am happy that you both met and fell in love. I am deeply moved by the powerful love that you both had for each other. I am heartbroken that cancer shortened your time together.

Christine said...

I don't know you personally but really respect your work.

This post brought tears to my eyes.

I'm sad for you and your loss. You guys sound like you were so good together. I wish you could have had each other longer.

jama said...

Deepest condolences. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful love story. Sending love, hugs, prayers, and the strength that comes with good memories.

Jean Reidy said...

Alvina, thank you for sharing your beautiful love story and allowing us to share your grief, even from afar.

David Macinnis Gill said...

Yeah, fuck cancer.
(Hugs)

Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful. It made me cry. You were fortunate to have such a wonderful man in your life, even if it wasn't for long. I'm sure he felt very fortunate to have you. Life (and death) can be so cruel. The kind of love the two of you had ... have (I don't believe love has to die) makes all of life worthwhile. It makes the unbearable bearable. Beautiful even. You both sound like wonderful people. I am so very sorry for you loss. I wish you many bright moments and laugh-out-loud memories during this period of grief. Thank you for sharing your beautiful love story with this stranger.

Tina Cho said...

Alvina, I've never met you except from posts on the Blue Rose Girls Blog, but this is beautiful, and I'm sitting here crying. I'm praying for you, and I'm glad you had a wonderful marriage. May God surround you with his comfort.

Donna Bowman Bratton said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Alvina. You have written a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man. Your life together was obviously filled to the brim with joy, adventure, and love. What a gift! May you be blessed with peace and comfort during this difficult time.

Sangeeta said...

Dear Alvina - What a beautiful story. Thank you for writing it and sharing it. You and Greg have made such a difference in so many people's lives, and we are so very grateful to you both. xoxo

Diana Pho said...

We float in the same publishing circles, and I heard about this through several friends on FB. I'm deeply sorry for your loss, and wish you all the best. You truly had something special and precious with Greg and I'm honored that you shared this with us.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the beautiful story of your love with Greg. Peace.

Janet Lee Carey said...

Alvina, thank you so much for sharing this deeply loving story, the hard parts, the funny parts, and all of the details that tell us how wonderful Greg was as a human being. I hope you are surrounded with love as you slowly, slowly heal from this terrible loss. We are not present with you, but we are standing with you in our thoughts and in our hearts.

Crystal Brunelle said...

Thank you for sharing about you and Greg's love. Through your words I could see that you were both blessed to have each other. I'm so sorry for your loss.

mordicai gerstein said...

Dear Alvina, I am so sorry for this huge loss. Your account of your time with your husband was a gift, just beautiful. Thank you for letting us into your life. But I can't help feeling grief.
I send you all my best wishes and love,
Mordicai

Cynthia Mun said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories. I've fallen in love with both of you from your blogs. Your account is an inspiration to live for passion and laughter. It's obvious Greg was a great man but you too are kind, thoughtful, insightful, caring, sincere, authentic, and an amazing wife. I am grateful for your words.

writersideup.com said...

Alvina, back in June 2011 at our NJ SCBWI Conference, I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop you and Grace Lin did together. So...we don't know each other, but we have met. In following you on Twitter I was glad your blog post tweet made its way into a selective email or I would never have known about this.

I realize you wrote this as a part of the process you need to go through, and to honor him, but it also serves as a gift to any of us who've read it. This is beautiful and heartbreaking, and I'm glad to feel I know you both, at least to this degree. I pray for your peace and that you will find comfort in angels' arms. Thank you for allowing us to share in your love...and in your pain, and I hope your belief system allows for the knowledge that there is more, and it's not on a cloud...

Kristen Kittscher said...

I'm so, so sorry for your loss -- and grateful you shared this beautiful post and tribute. I feel as though I've met Greg after reading it. What a special, special, funny, generous man. (And your mom is right - very handsome!) Hoping all of these wonderful memories give you strength and solace at this hard time.

Emma Ledbetter said...

Oh Alvina, I'm so, so sorry to hear of your loss. You are one of the kindest people I know--and it's clear Greg was a perfect match, and a wonderful person who will be greatly missed. Thank you for sharing your love story. Sending a hug.

Valarie Giogas said...

I'm so sorry to read this news, Alvina. Your love story is inspirational. Thank you for sharing it. May you find peace as you come to terms with Greg's passing. Sending you love and light.

Michelle Edwards said...

Thank you for sharing your stunningly brave love story.Loving someone who is dying is heartbreaking, this love story will end. And yet, for the courageous, who stay close to love like you did, and face the pain every day, there appears a raw openness to everything sensory --the light, color, sounds, what our animals may be thinking in the day. Over thirty years have passed, and I still can remember all the light, the autumn light, in the room where I cared for my mother. From Iowa City, my deepest sympathies for your tremendous loss.

AARON MESHON said...

Dear Alvina,
I wanted to offer my sincere sorrow but also thankfulness for sharing you and Greg's story of love and courage, humor and sadness. I am so sorry for your loss and am sorry I just heard about it today. My thoughts are with you and your family and of course Greg, whom I'm very sorry I did not meet in this world. Thinking of you and thank you so much for sharing. - Aaron

Kat Noodles said...

Thank you, Alvina. I am incredibly grateful that you wrote this. You have all of my love.

NATASHA YIM said...

So sorry for your loss, Alvina! What a brave fight you and Greg had to endure. Thank you for sharing your touching and heartbreaking story. Blessings to you in your time of healing.

Kathy Doherty said...

Alvina, I'm so sorry for your loss. You were blessed to have had each other, even though it was for such a short time. Your tribute to your husband showed what a remarkable, loving man he was. Consider reading LIFE AFTER DEATH by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Her books helped me deal with loss. She started Hospice in our country and studied death and dying her whole life.

Erica Silverman said...

Dear Alvina,
I'm so so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful love story you have.
Warmest wishes,
Erica

B.Adrian Wight said...

Dear Alvina,
We met once for about ten minutes. You were and are kind and generous and I was so glad I got to meet you. That said, I read this post and it sounds like you had a romantic love for the ages. I never met your husband but feel as though I knew him a little bit. I want to say how sorry I am. If there is anything I can do, please let me know. I don't know what that could be and it is a real offer.
Please take care.

Be Well,
B. Adrian White

Jennifer Jue-Steuck said...

Dear Alvina,
Thank you for sharing your beautiful love story.
Thinking of you…
All best wishes from England,
Jennifer
P.S. As I may (or may not) have shared with you, my (adoptive) mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer when I was 19. She passed away sleeping beside me -- underneath our living room Christmas tree -- when I was 21. Like Greg, Mom also kept telling me how much she loved me during her final months. Greg will always be with you, continuing to shape the woman you will become…and I'm sure that he will always be so proud of you.

A said...

What a beautiful love story and thank you for sharing it with us in such a vivid and detailed account...big, big hug

Tracy Abell said...

I am so very sorry for your loss and also filled with admiration for the love story you shared so eloquently.

Susan L Lipson said...

May you be blessed for honoring this honorable man with such loving words. You have created light where darkness might have eclipsed it. Wishing you continued strength. --Susan L. Lipson

Anonymous said...

Dear Alvina,

My name is Java Bradley, and I was a colleague of Greg's at St. Philip's Academy. My 4th grade room was right next to his 5th grade room for my first year and a half there while we were still on Washington Place. He was very welcoming and gracious, and I loved how easy going and gentle he was in an often very challenging and demanding role as a teacher. It was also pretty neat and inspiring to see how he headed the golf club at SPA. He was an example that sometimes our interests can create opportunities for ourselves and others.

I also remember when you came to speak with our students about publishing. That was a great presentation that the kids really enjoyed!

What a real blessing that you found one another. Love can accomplish so much in us--so much joy and clarity, and so much healing. And, though I did not stay in touch with Greg after he left, and I'm not sure you and I ever actually met (even during your visit to SPA), I am so thankful you both had so many precious and love-filled days together.

It says somewhere, "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."

We miss Greg here at (now) Philip's Academy.

God bless you.

Sincerely,
Java Bradley
NJ

Brendan said...

I was running in Central Park and took a picture of the brick with Greg's name. "Greg Taylor 1975-2015 Alvina's Husband Beloved" Three months later, I finally looked this up which led me to your story. I'm so touched by all of this. What a difficult journey...I hope your year has been better. Thank you for buying a brick for Greg.