Father’s faith strengthens after son’s death
When Gregory Floyd took the podium last night at the Busch Campus Center, he told a story about his 6-year-old-son.
“Once upon a time, there was a boy named John Paul. Everyone who met him fell in love with him,” he said.
The University’s chapter of the Catholic Student Association sponsored guest speaker Floyd to speak on grief for the Catholic month celebrating departed souls marked by the Nov. 2 All Souls Day.
Floyd said John spoke about heaven and questioned his parents whether he would make it to heaven. Weeks before the Easter Sunday holiday, John asked whether he would see heaven soon.
“[I feared] God would require the ultimate sacrifice of sending him back to Him,” he said.
Days before Easter, Floyd received a ring on his doorbell at around 3:20 p.m., from a driver informing him he had hit his two sons, he said.
Floyd’s sons David and John were lying in the road. David had bruises and abrasions while his brother was unconscious, he said.
“Johnny’s lips were turning blue, his heart wasn’t beating, and I started to give Johnny mouth to mouth,” he said. “I kept telling Johnny, ‘You could do this.’”
His two sons were transported to separate hospitals, he said. David — the older brother — was released 24 hours later, but John remained.
“Then I began to realize, my son is not conscious. He cannot breathe, he could not think or feel or speak … [He] was dead,” he said.
As his son lay unconscious, Floyd pressed his mouth against his child’s cheek and encouraged him to pull through.
“In the hospital there was a shield around us. … That shield was made of love. It afforded me complete protection,” he said. “I was there and touching and kissing him with the very strength of my love. In my heart I knew that boy was going to die.”
Floyd said his oldest son Gregory, who was 11 years old at the time, gathered his siblings and apologized to John for everything they had done to him.
Twenty-four hours passed and John was declared brain dead, Floyd said. After doing so, nurses explained the procedure of donating organs.
“At 3:30 the next morning, we silently dressed and [were] led down a long hallway,” he said. “[Our son] was bandaged from where his organs and eyes were removed and I put him in my wife’s arms. I have never seen the Pieta like that. This was a living Pieta.”
Floyd said the worst nightmare for a parent is the death of a child.
Six months after John died, Floyd said he was having the worst day of his life since the death.
“It was midnight and it was a very starry sky. When I was younger, the stars were holes into heaven,” he said. “‘Johnny, where are you?’ Before I could move, I heard a voice saying, ‘I’m with you.’”
This coming year will mark his 16th death anniversary, he said.
“If you love, you will grieve,” Floyd said.
Floyd said grief is a long, hard road but it’s a journey — not a destination.
“You move through grief in a reality,” he said. “People used to ask if I was angry. I was in too much pain to be angry.”
Floyd said his faith helped him cope with his son’s death.
“We discovered that faith is a precious thing. It turns death into a doorway,” he said.
Mark Rodriguez, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said Floyd’s speech was very personal and faith-inspired.
“[He] shared it with us, he didn’t know us and let us witness what he experienced,” he said. “Faith and prayer were so central [to this].”
Giancarlo Enriquez, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, found Floyd’s speech inspiring and said it gave hope to those dealing with similar issues.
“Faith played a large role,” Enriquez said. “It gives a sense of direction.”
Correction: In an earlier version of this article, the sponsoring organization was misnamed. The Catholic Student Association sponsored the event.