One of my favorite human beings passed away one year ago and I wrote this piece one year ago when I was in tremendous grief.
I am grateful I wrote this the day Gregg passed, because I never want to forget the little things. There will only be one Gregg Helfer. The impact of Gregg’s presence on me, my kids and our lives, was profound and will be cherished always.
I can’t sleep without writing these things down.
To know Gregg was to love Gregg. I never want to get fuzzy on this list of 52 facts for one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. Gregg just turned 52 this past Monday, so the number 52 seemed right to me, but the age of his passing still has me reeling.
If you never met Gregg, this might give you a look inside. If you did know him, you know what I’m talking about.
I will love Gregg forever. He made a huge impact on me, and my daughters thought he was more sparkly than the diamonds he sold. And he was.
- Gregg was an optimist.
- Gregg loved me, Juliette and Charlotte very much, and was proud of possibly being the #1 Facebook stalker of me and my kids. He told me it was one of the few things he liked about Facebook.
- Gregg would never, ever let me pay for anything and would always be annoyed with me when I’d suggest I pay for something. After a while, I had to stop asking because I knew better than to ask. He always told me my money was no good. I would respond, “What money?”
- Gregg made me pee in my pants with laughter once on Lincoln Avenue. Pantomime was involved.
- Gregg told me a number of times, he really didn’t like going to the doctor.
- Gregg loved lobster rolls and as we ate them, we discussed lobster rolls.
- Gregg did our engagement and wedding rings and they were amazing.
- Gregg gave me top dollar when I needed to sell them back during my divorce.
- Gregg gave my daughters 3+ carat amethysts a few years back, and when they got their ears pierced, wanted to give them two more enormous amethysts.
- Gregg loved the White Sox, but I found out today at Gregg’s funeral, that what he really loved most, was witnessing the joy the White Sox gave to his brother, Michael.
- Gregg was the person I sent the most business referrals to, by a long-shot.
- Gregg seemed bionic, because he almost always showed up for any important date/event for just about anyone.
- Gregg was as philanthropic as it gets, and I know a lot of philanthropists.
- Gregg was easy to laugh and would say to me every single time we got together, “You are hilarious! I ought to hang out with you more often,” as if each time we got together he’d just realized I might be funny.
- Gregg was open about his love for other people and I can’t think of a time he said negative things about others.
- Gregg and I debated over Diet Coke and Coke Zero (Coke Zero is better, Gregg.)
- Gregg had a secret to tell me on how to clean a cubic zirconia so it looks as sparkly as a diamond. He said the secret would put him out of business so I’d better not tell anyone. I never actually heard the secret on how to do it.
- Gregg loved this local Italian restaurant right around the corner from his condo. We ate like absolute pigs there and the whole staff loved the hell out of him.
- Gregg hosted a brunch for Pride Weekend, and I never attended it and wish I had.
- Gregg introduced me to the best Cuban food I’ve ever tasted.
- Gregg told me he thought I could do anything I wanted to do.
- Gregg and I, for many years worked within blocks of each other and wherever we ate dinner, he’d walk me back to my car no matter how long the walk was. He would make fun of my high heels around the fourth block.
- Gregg would let me play with diamonds and other precious jewels at his office. There were a few times I’d come from work just to take a break with the jewelry. I was like a little girl in those times. One time, he lent me extremely expensive diamond earrings so I could feel extra pretty out there.
- Gregg loved and attended to his family in an incredible fashion.
- Gregg and I would talk about our beloved mothers.
- Gregg introduced me to Dr. Sandy and the Silver Lining Foundation. He also took me to their gala. I was impressed by it, and I’ve been at a lot of these types of events.
- Gregg thought I should be a teacher to other mothers on how to be a fun and creative mom. I reminded him that Facebook isn’t real life. He pretended not to listen to me.
- Gregg and I danced together only once. I tried to teach him a little bit of flamenco, and he was pretty good. (And drinking alcohol at the time.)
- Gregg had zero tolerance for anything that remotely resembled self-loathing, yet he found a way to never judge it but just move the conversation along with such finesse and grace.
- Gregg became teary eyed when I’d tell him certain stories about my kids.
- Gregg was nice to really annoying door-to-door solicitors.
- Gregg once introduced me to an Israeli man he did business with. This man was one of the crudest individuals I’d ever met. I remember he even started to unzip his pants to show me his impressive goods. (Ew.) Gregg somehow managed to diffuse an incredibly awkward situation and I’m not sure how he did that, but the Israeli guy and I were both laughing with Gregg, post awkward douchebag moments. Gregg was the best diffuser I’ve ever met.
- Gregg gave Juliette and Charlotte gold dust.
- Gregg convinced Juliette and Charlotte that the enormous glass “diamond” paperweight he had on his desk was a real diamond.
- Gregg was “Mr. Gregg” to Juliette and Charlotte.
- Gregg cleaned bird poop off of Charlotte’s head when she was a toddler.
- Gregg never once said, “No” when I asked for a donation. Sometimes, I didn’t even get to the ask. He’d say, “What do you need? Anything for you.”
- Gregg shared a lot of himself with me. I think I kind of demanded it and saw that he only wanted to hear about me and avoid talking about himself, which of course, I wouldn’t stand for.
- Gregg always appeared thrilled to see me and you and anyone else.
- Gregg had a gift for lifting people up.
- Gregg was a totally honest private jeweler and not in it for the money. He liked people more than money.
- Gregg grew up in Waukegan and was still friends with his childhood Waukegan buddies.
- Gregg was introduced to me by one of my best friends, Carrie.
- Gregg joined a nonprofit board of directors because I asked him to.
- Gregg and I talked Judaism and politics. We didn’t agree on certain things, but it never became heated at all. We managed to respect and learn from each other. Neither of us ever tried to move each other to his/her viewpoint. We were more heated over Coke Zero and Diet Coke.
- Gregg and I often went to this stir fry place I didn’t really like. When we met at the stir fry place, I think we both sort of knew it was a “this isn’t about the food” get together.
- Gregg would probably laugh, roll his eyes at this list and then tell me to get laid.
- Gregg often complimented my cheapest jewelry choices.
- Gregg always thought I was younger than I was, no matter how many times I’d tell him my age. He would respond that I totally look that old and maybe older, I’m just so immature.
- Gregg never once appeared to be inconvenienced by anyone in any way.
- Gregg and I knew each other for half of my life.
- Gregg was happy. He was really happy.
I love you, Gregg. You were and will always be the most valuable jewel.
Okay. Now, I can go to bed.
53. Your presence is as gigantic as it ever has been. I love you forever and ever.