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Sharing the Journey from Bereaved to Shining Light Parent
The Wisdom of Greg - A Pilgrimage for Greg

The Wisdom of Greg - A Pilgrimage for Greg

  • Posted
    • Jul
    • 19
    • 2023
by Elizabeth Boisson
Above: Greg's photo of his parents in Venice in 2006
Bill is just an ordinary guy who has had extraordinary things happen to him since the passing of his son Greg. Susan writes it all down. The Calgary, Canada affiliate leaders are on an amazing journey with their son. 
In September of 2014, Bill and I were booked to go on a Mediterranean cruise that we had been planning for over a year. Two weeks before we were set to leave, our 27-year-old son Greg left this Earth. 
I couldn't imagine how we would be able to go ahead with the trip, but Greg had other plans. He sent us on a journey full of incredible signs, synchronicities and miracles. 
Bill had discovered that he could hear his son talk to him, and two days after Greg passed, Bill heard Greg say in his head, "Grab my passport and give it to Mom so she can bring it along and I can come with you." 
Before we left, Bill called this trip a pilgrimage for Greg, and when I looked up the definition of a pilgrimage, it was the perfect description of what we were embarking on: a journey made to some sacred place as an act of devotion.
Bill wanted to scatter some of Greg's ashes in a few of the places we were going to visit as part of his pilgrimage, but I was very concerned that his ashes would be confiscated by customs officials. Without telling me, Bill brought a small amount in an empty vitamin bottle, and I'm so grateful he did! 
Our first stop was Venice, and Bill woke up in the middle of the night in our hotel room and saw Greg's green and purple colors everywhere in the room, a sign that Bill had learned meant that Greg wanted to communicate. 
Bill heard Greg give him the most astounding message: "I'm here and ready for my pilgrimage. I want you to take a gondola ride. It's on me. And bring some of my ashes and spread them so I can see the Bridge of Sighs from the lagoon. It represents my freedom." He also told his Dad that he would let him know where he would like his ashes spread as the trip progressed.
I've written before about the wonderful dry sense of humor our son had while he was here with us, and it continues on the other side. When Greg said the gondola trip was "on me," we both had a good laugh because Greg was always short on funds. Greg had told his Dad about a year before he passed that he had made us the beneficiary of the life insurance policy he had through his work, because he felt he owed us for everything we had done for him and he wanted to pay us back. So yes, our gondola ride was "on him."
I told Bill before we went on the trip that I didn't want to take another expensive gondola ride because we had done that eight years earlier on a visit to Venice with Greg and his sister Kristin. In fact, Greg took a picture of Bill and I as we were heading for the Bridge of Sighs on that trip in 2006, and the framed photo still sits on my desk as a beautiful memory.
And when Greg said that the scattering of some of his ashes in the lagoon in view of the Bridge of Sighs would represent his "freedom," it was especially meaningful. The Bridge of Sighs connects to the prison, and it was said that convicts would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the bridge's windows before being taken to their cell. As Bill trailed his hand in the lagoon and released some of Greg's ashes in a small piece of paper, we looked at the Bridge of Sighs and knew that our son was now free.
A few days later as our cruise ship started to sail away from Venice in the late afternoon sunshine, the dazzling light streamed down from the clouds and danced on the water of the lagoon and I said to Bill, "It looks like Heaven." It was so beautiful that I took a few pictures from our balcony and of course we were talking about Greg. Just then, the cruise ship started to play its sail-away music from the top deck and the first two songs were from two of Greg's favorite film series, The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. We knew it was Greg saying "Hello" and "I love you."  
It was a very emotional start to our pilgrimage for Greg, but much more was to come as the three of us made our way around the Mediterranean. We'll continue our wonderful pilgrimage for Greg in next month's newsletter!
If you would like to hear more about our amazing experiences, click here to watch the video Bill made for the HPH YouTube channel.
~Written by Susan Van Oije with Bill and Greg

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