The Life of Jose Greer & the Reconciliation of Death

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015, I am home after a long day of surgery. I sat down and talked to my wife for a few minutes. She received a call that Jose had been robbed. Three men kicked in the door and he jumped from his third floor balcony. He had a broken arm and leg but was now at Grady and expected to be “ok.”

After a few minutes contemplating this, I called his brother and my best friend Ernest Greer. “G, what’s up man”? “Coop I haven’t seen him yet, but I spoke to the officer and he is going to be ok.” “Ok man, you call me if you need me.”

I stayed up for another hour or so and went off to bed. I woke up at 5 am to get ready to get in a workout. After a few minutes I rolled over and picked up my phone. There it was in a text message: 1100 PM-“Coop, Jose is unstable it is not looking good.” 0330-“Coop, Jose is in heaven.” I screamed; DAMN, no way.

I immediately called G. “G, man you should have called me.” “Man I should have been there.” “Naw, Coop it’s all good man, they did everything that could have been done for Jose.” “It was not meant to be.” “Love you man.”

A so it was, guilt. Dr. Cooper you should know that a fall from a height that results in a broken arm and broken leg is not good. The mechanism of those injuries suggests a terrible impact with the ground and the likelihood of major organ injury, head injury and pelvic fracture has to be considered. In my exhausted state from a long day at work, it didn’t even register. I thought Jose would be as expected, “ok.”

How selfish of me to chastise my friend. Why is it the first thing out of my mouth was, “you should have called me?” Yes in my moment of weakness, it became about me and not what it should have been about, the support of my friend. For a moment, I somehow thought “if I had just been there, maybe, just maybe Jose would be here.” How foolish.

Our struggle is not really death, our struggle is life and how we live it. The suddenness of death often reinforces this notion. The focus is not really on the deceased and the mourners, our guilt and selfishness turns inward to empathy for our failures in life. We think, if I had just… or perhaps if I had been there…… Yes, these are really foolish thoughts for in the words of John Donne: “because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

My selfish guilt was fleeting and I moved on to contemplate the friendship that was fostered by Jose. I recall first meeting him at the Regency neighborhood clubhouse years ago. Yours truly entered into the barbeque contest and won the blue ribbon prize. The Greer boys, Ernest in particular, wanted to know who is this guy from Hayti, MO. There they were, G and Jose, sizing me up but giving proper recognition to the tastiness of the product. From then on, we became the best of friends.

Jose was quiet and humble yet smart, strong and determined. He was never without an opinion or perspective. He was never too impressed with G and I and despite our accomplishments, he was always supportive reminding us to stay grounded (stay strong in your faith), act like men (be cool Coop) be strong. “Let everything you do be done in love.” I am most assured these were his exact words. Perhaps he was quoting it directly from the Bible or perhaps it was just him. I believe both. You see he lived that life and thus his living was not in vain.

Jose was the man that Rudyard Kipling said could “keep his head when all about him were losing theirs and blaming it on him.” He trusted himself when all men doubted him and made allowance for their doubting too. He could wait and not be tired by waiting, or being lied about yet did not deal in lies or being hated but did not give way to hating. On the contrary to Kipling, he was a good looking man and always wise.

Jose is the one that Martin Luther King referred to as “just wanting to do God’s will.” He is the one that Oriah Mountain Dreamer said was comfortable with himself when he was alone in solitude.

He was the one who never missed a birthday or Father’s day without calling or texting to wish one well. He would often just randomly text or call to say hello. He never failed to enter into a conversation without inquiring about the family. He wanted to know how everyone was doing. Yes, he was the man who was comfortable ending every conversation or text message with the simple words: I LOVE YOU!

In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, his final exhortation dealt with the behavior of Christians and their relationship with one another. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. Through Paul’s teachings, we are taught the LESSONS of LOVE. Through our parents, family, friends and loved ones we witness the LABOR of LOVE.

I thank God for the life and friendship of one Jose Ramon Greer. He labored in Love unconditionally. His life and how he lived it reconciled his death.

In this season of celebration of the life of the one who gave it all, I simply say, I LOVE YOU! But I love you even more because of Jose.

He says: Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

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