Jayson Greene must have cut a strange figure as he raged into the winds of downtown Manhattan — shouting out his grief and anger on the sidewalk.
Howling like a wounded animal was one of the techniques the bereaved dad used to deal with the shocking death of his 2-year-old daughter, Greta.
“The only way for me to let go of some of the tension was to scream it out,” Jayson told The Post. “There obviously weren’t woods nearby, so I’d wait for my opportunity, hoping nobody would see or hear me.”
He also kept a journal, which became the basis for his new memoir, “Once More We Saw Stars” (Knopf), about the aftermath of the accident on May 17, 2015.
While sitting on an Upper West Side bench with her grandmother, Greta was struck by a brick that became dislodged from the eighth floor of a senior-citizen residence.
She sustained brain injuries and died in the hospital the following day, leaving Jayson and his wife, Stacy, to make the devastating decision to donate her organs.
The randomness of the tragedy broke the hearts of New Yorkers who asked how this could have happened in a place where millions go about their business in the shadow of tall buildings.
“That public awareness was one of the reasons why I wrote the book,” added Jayson. “Greta’s story had been told by her fate, but there was so much more to say.”
Jayson and Stacy, both 37, were overjoyed when their first child was born in April 2013. Two years later, the bright little girl, with her fascination for birds and animals, was the family’s pride and joy.
The family’s world stopped on a Sunday morning, when Jayson and his wife were on the way to the movies near their home in Ditmas Park. Stacy’s mother Susan, who had kept the toddler overnight, called with unbelievable news: Greta had stopped breathing after a piece of flying masonry hit her in the head. (Susan was hit in the legs, but not severely injured.)
“The brick was a grievous insult sent from the universe, a refutation of [Greta’s] small hopes, dreams, plans,” Jayson writes.
For the first six months after Greta’s death, the couple struggled with the help of a therapist for Jayson and a counselor friend for Stacy. They returned to their jobs — him as a music writer, her as a lactation consultant — and sold their apartment because the memories proved unbearable.
For Stacy, she was mostly fine working with babies at her job. “I would meet the occasional child who had the same birthday as Greta and that could be triggering,” she said, explaining that she would sometimes rage and cry in the privacy of her car.
In the fall of 2015, Stacy suggested they attend a grief retreat at a yoga and health center, Kripalu, in Stockbridge, Mass. There they spent time with others whose loved ones had died.
“Our friends and family had been extremely supportive,” she said. “But we needed to be with other parents like us.”
In 2016, Maqsood Faruqi, an engineer who had been hired to inspect the building from which the fatal brick fell, was given two years’ probation for having falsely claimed the façade was safe. The Greenes are pursuing their own legal action against the building owners.
Today, the Greenes’ source of strength is their son, Harrison, born 18 months after Greta’s passing. Now 2, he is too young to understand what happened to his sister, but Jayson and Stacy keep Greta’s spirit close.
The couple, who now live near Red Hook, prominently display an oil painting, by their friend Caitlin Hurd, of Greta in their living room. Harrison has a printed copy pinned to his cubby at nursery school.
It would be easy to imagine that the Greenes never let their boy out of their sight, terrified that something bad might happen to him, too. But they say they don’t want to put that burden on Harrison.
“If anything, we err the other way,” said Stacy, “we are relaxed, open and hopeful.”
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