Gray was probably the first person I knew who took writing poetry seriously. He’s the only person I’ve met with the name “Gray,” and I loved him for that.
Many people who are mourning right now knew him far better than I did, but I still feel compelled to share my thoughts. The greatest tragedy I can think of is that not enough good memories of a person are shared.
Frankly, I have no idea how I met Gray, except that he was friends with all of my older friends, and I was that freshman in high school trying to spend time with the artsy kids. There were a few of us who got together on a semi-regular basis at a coffee shop called Cafe Diem and discussed poetry, art, literature, and music. We called ourselves PALM (get it?). I remember Gray was taking college courses in creative writing and literature and I thought that was so cool.
My most vivid memory of Gray, though, was one time when I went to his house with the same friends from PALM. We were sitting around talking and the house phone rang. Gray picked it up and immediately shouted, “WHAT?!” A moment later he cringed and walked into the other room saying, “I’m so sorry. This is Gray.” It was my mom calling to see when I would be home. She was justifiably insulted, but I was amused then and I still am now.
The last time I saw him was at a Stewart Davis concert in 2006. He looked unwell then, and I worried about him. But in the years after, it seems that he did exactly what I expected of him when I knew him in high school: become a magnificent artist.
Friends and acquaintances aren’t supposed to die in their twenties and thirties. That’s really the only take-away.
2 responses to “Gray Gideon”
I was Gray’s girlfriend when he passed. Honestly, I haven’t really stopped thinking of myself as his girlfriend, even 8 months after his death.
Sometimes, his absence is so fresh, as though he has been pulled out of the room by some force and I feel like I’m waiting in the silence for him to return, to apologize and ask what he’s missed. “You, you idiot. I’ve missed you!” I’d tell him.
So, there are days that are miserable and hard and I sometimes will give in to the urge to look for any sign that I’ve somehow missed of him, some other memory to lock up close even though it’s not mine, some other reminder that he did touch as many people as I always imagined. That was the most remarkable thing about him sometimes, how unaware he could be of his effect on others. He had no idea. None at all.
Thanks for sharing your memory. I can clearly picture it, the tone of his voice as he answered the phone. It’s a clear illustration of his personality and it makes me feel not so utterly alone to know he touched another soul with his openness and willingness to share his passions like books, film and music.
Thanks for posting this, Sam. I am Gray’s mom. Maybe we met at some point. I remember the group you are talking about. I’m a poet and taught creative writing at ISU and Gray used to question me a lot about poetry during this time. I really miss him, and wish i could have helped him more than he allowed. Be well.