22 May 19
The Scottish Sun
DAD Jayson Greene and his wife Stacy were having a rare “date weekend” while their two-year-old daughter Greta was out with her grandmother.
But as they left home to go to the cinema, the doting parents were confronted with shattering news about their child that would devastate their lives.
Jayson Greene with baby daughter Greta on his shoulders
Jayson noticed he had missed a couple of calls from his wife’s mother Susan after the couple enjoyed a lie-in at their apartment.
He recalls: “I called back and that’s when Susan said, ‘Oh Jayson — it’s so horrible.’
“When she said that I knew something was about to change for ever.”
Greta and Susan had just been to the theatre to see a live stage version of a children’s show.
They were sitting on a bench in Manhattan and talking about the show when a piece of masonry fell from a building and landed on Greta’s head.
The freak accident also left Greta’s grandmother with leg injuries.
‘WE SING LULLABIES AS NURSES TEND TO TUBES’
Horrified Jayson and Stacy, both 37, raced to the New York hospital where the injured pair had been taken. They were ushered into a corner room where they found Greta lying lifeless on the centre of a table.
Jayson relives the moment in his moving memoir Once More We Saw Stars, which details the painful story of his loss in May 2015 and how he managed to survive it.
Jayson and Stacy, both 37, pose with Greta in their Brooklyn apartment
He writes: “I have no memory of the injury on her head. My mind either refuses to note it or has erased it.
“There are things you see with your body, not with your eyes.
“Stepping away, I feel something evaporate. I am lighter, as if some massive drill has bored into my bones extracting marrow.”
Greta was taken away for a CAT scan which revealed a bleed in the brain. Medics tried to operate on her but the bleeding was worse than they feared.
Eventually the couple were told their daughter had suffered brain damage and would never wake up.
A paediatric intensive-care doctor took them into a small room and explained the grave situation.
She told the couple: “I believe her prognosis is fatal. I want you to be aware that there is a lot of swelling.
“You should know that before going in to see her.”
Jayson writes in his memoir: “We know Greta is going to die, all of us, although we haven’t allowed the thought into our conscious minds yet. We glance around us, realising this is the last we’ll ever see of the world as we’ve known it. Whatever comes next will raze everything.”
The couple went in to see Greta for the first time since learning that she would never recover.
They stood on either side of her bed and held a hand each.
Jayson writes: “Greta is no longer a body they have spent fruitless hours trying to stabilise. She is ours and we are hers.
“We sing her lullabies as nurses tend to tubes.”
Baby Greta Greene, two, died after a piece of masonry fell on her head in Manhattan
The couple decided to donate her organs so others might benefit in some way. Although the head wound was bad, her heart, liver and kidneys were all in perfect condition.
For Greta’s final hours, Jayson and Stacy stayed close to their daughter as she was kept on life support while the preparations were made to donate her organs.
Stacy climbed into bed with her and Jayson rested his head on her chest as she breathed.
He recalled: “When we learned her prognosis was fatal, we made the decision to donate her organs.
“We stayed in the hospital while they kept her on life support as they sought recipients.
“Then we went home without her and started to make sense of what was going to happen with our lives.
“When we walked back into our apartment it was as if the surface of our lives was coated and saturated with memory.
“She was not here but she felt like she was everywhere. I had to reconcile those two feelings.”
The couple tried every technique they could think of to heal themselves and cope with the loss. They both returned to their jobs — Jayson as a music journalist and Stacy as a breastfeeding consultant — but sold their Brooklyn apartment because of the painful memories.
They went to a retreat where they consulted a medium. They visited a spiritual sanctuary in New Mexico and even practised “grief yoga”.
‘THE ONLY WAY TO LET GO OF TENSION WAS TO SCREAM’
Their story touched New Yorkers deeply — and the city launched an investigation to find out how a chunk of masonry could fall from a windowsill on the eighth floor.
It revealed that the building — a centre for the elderly — had been certified safe by an inspector who had never even visited the site.
Jayson and Stacy had to somehow cope after the death of their baby daughter
If he had, he may have seen with his own eyes the massive crack which was so bad another inspector had sent an email warning about it. But nothing had been done.
One of the many emotions Jayson experienced was anger. He sought out places in New York where he could scream out loud in a bid to rid himself of his rage and grief.
He said: “I learned that anger was vital and important.
“I had not always been comfortable with anger in my life. Learning to express it was part of my healing.
“I was wandering around New York City looking for a place where I could scream at a building just to vent my anger because I was in pain still.
“The only way for me to let go of some of the tension was to scream it out. There obviously weren’t woods nearby, so I’d wait for my opportunity, hoping nobody would see or hear me.”
Less than 18 months after Greta’s death the couple had a son, Harrison, who is now two-and-a-half years old.
They were determined that his life would not be defined by Greta’s tragic death.
Jayson said: “We wanted him to be born into the same big world we gave to Greta.
“We didn’t want to give him a smaller world or a more fearful one. That seemed hardly fair.
“Harrison is hilarious and very emotional — as toddlers tend to be.
“He is beautiful and keeps us in the present all the time as kids do. And he just wants to spend time with us. He is a goofball who has my goofy smile.”
Such tragedy would drive many couples apart, but if anything Greta’s death brought Jayson and Stacy closer.
He says: “Once Greta died our compassion for each other’s suffering was so great that it took the place of any petty annoyances that make up a marriage. We instinctively huddled towards each other. We’d already lost so much there was no way we could fathom losing the other.
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“I see the world differently in the light of Greta’s death. I feel I respond to life as it happens to me.
“I couldn’t help but be taught by her that there were larger forces.
“I consider my life to have a spiritual dimension that did not exist when Greta was here.”
Jayson Greene wrote a book to deal with his grief over Greta’s death
Stacy and Jayson practised ‘grief yoga’ and consulted a medium after their daughter died
Greta Greene photographed on the beach by her parents
Once More We Saw Stars, by Jayson Greene, is published by Hodder & Stoughton
Once More We Saw Stars, by Jayson Greene, is published by Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99.
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