It took the wind out of me, the text that my friend, and former partner at AEquitas, Jeff Greipp, had died of pancreatic cancer last month, way too young, and without most of us knowing he was even sick. Like so many people in my merry band, I was stunned by the news. As I tried to figure out the best way to spread the word to my community, I was overcome with the weight of so much sadness and loss. Jeff was one of the most fundamentally decent people I had ever had the privilege of knowing. He was a brilliant and funny teacher; passionate about the law and justice; creative in his approach to cultivating a new generation of professionals to take up the fight for victims.
Jeff and I traveled together frequently in the early days of AEQ, teaching together all over the country. You can’t log those kinds of miles, share that many meals, and not get to know a guy. And so while I will always think of Jeff as someone from whom I learned much as a presenter and a facilitator, I also think of him as someone with whom I could share silly moments after long days on the road. Someone with whom I traded worries about raising a daughter in this world and, as a parent, tried to figure out how to tamp down the slow-burning internal freak-out that is always threatening to grow out of control when you do this work. Someone who provided an ear as I struggled to make the hardest choices (even if he didn’t know the context); was there as my life broke apart, and treated my coming out like a coronation.
I wasn’t the only one who loved and respected Jeff. As the news has spread of his death, I’ve heard from so many colleagues and friends who describe him in similar terms: decent, kind, funny, smart. I hate like hell that I didn’t know he was sick, and it’s probably my own damn fault, because I was lousy at staying in touch; the truth is, I hadn’t talked to Jeff in over a year. And now I’m just shaking my head. Because there’s no excuse for that kind of apathy. It’s easy to pretend that friends on Facebook is friendship. That liking an occasional status update is communication.
The forensic nursing community lost a great friend in Jeff, who was a champion for expanding the role of medical experts and medical evidence in domestic violence and sexual assault cases. He was a generous co-presenter, a fantastic teacher, and a great big curious brain. The world will be a little less interesting without him. You will surely be missed, Jeff. Rest in peace, my friend.