In loving memory of my friend, Bryan Kristofer Dale
May 30, 1985 - February 27, 2015
A week ago from today, on Sunday March 1st, my husband and I received terrible news that one of our friends passed away. His name was Bryan Kristofer Dale. He was only 29 years, 8 months and 28 days of age. For years I called him Dale..... I still have in my contacts as Dale. I met Bryan Dale when he started hanging out with my younger brother, Paul, in middle school. They quickly became best friends that did everything together. So, Bryan or Dale was like a brother to me.
Bryan had such a love for life, creativity, art, nature, music and beauty. When he graduated from high school he commissioned me to make him one of my paper mosaics. His mosaic is the photo above. Before I learned how to weave during my sophomore year at the Kansas City Art Institute, I was cutting up little pieces of colored paper and making collages and mosaics. In 2003, I was pretty shocked that I got accepted in to art school and got scholarships all with a portfolio of these paper creations. Bryan's commission meant so much to me because I remember I had a hard time believing in myself and my creative abilities and here was this 18 year old that paid me to make him something. He was always so encouraging throughout the years before textiles and after.
Before Cora was born, Bryan lived with us for a short time. Brandon and I just bought our first home and I remember how excited I was to decorate. I hung up in our living room three large weavings and this one was the one was the middle piece.
Bryan was so encouraging of my art making and talked about my weavings a lot. For years he talked about someday having enough money to buy one of the three weavings for his mom. He loved his parents dearly.
Six years ago, Brandon and I were expecting our second baby. While 13 weeks pregnant, we were up in Marshalltown, Iowa visiting family for Christmas along with celebrating Cora's second Birthday on the December 28th. That same day was my parents' 35th Wedding Anniversary that I was planning a surprise party for. The day after Christmas I had to go to the ER due to spotting. Bryan's dad, Allen Dale was my doctor that helped me through the tragic news that we lost our pregnancy. Sadly, two days later, I passed out due to blood lose and I had to go back to the ER on the same day we were celebrating Cora's birthday. My parent's anniversary party was cancelled. That time in my life sucked. But to have Allen be my doctor when we found out our lose meant a lot to us.
Months later Bryan was visiting us and found out that we wanted to finish our basement to move my studio from the third bedroom to downstairs. Brandon and I still wanted to try for a second child and needed my studio to move. But because of all our medical bills there was a hold on the addition. Bryan told his dad about our plans and Allen being the kind and generous man he was, offered to help Brandon finish our basement for free. Such an incredibly generous act. So for a couple of months Allen traveled down to Kansas City on his weekends off and helped Brandon finish our basement into the weaving studio that I have enjoyed for more than five years.
During those weekends that he came down, I was kind of stunned by his generosity. I remember still working through a lot of my grief from my miscarriage. It was the most traumatic experience I had gone through. So, I knew I said thank you but I kind of kept to myself when he visited. For five plus years I have enjoyed and am grateful for all that Allen did for us. I am so thankful that I get to work from my home in such a safe and peaceful space. In my studio, I have worked through not only my healing process but I have woven several pieces for Truman Hospital and Children's Mercy's. In the Lisa Barth Interfaith Chapel at Children's Mercy I made three woven textiles that are hung next to each other on the wall in the hospital's only hospice room where family and friends can share their last moments with their little precious loved one. Having artwork in hospitals has been a dream come true. Many times throughout the five years I have thought about wanting to give Allen and his wife a gift to say thank you.
Last Sunday, soon after hearing the horrible news about Bryan leaving this earth, I started reflecting on how much Bryan and his dad, along with his wife, did to impact our life. I just knew that this was the time I needed and wanted to let Allen know how much I appreciated him. I had sold two out of the three weavings that were on my wall while Bryan lived with us. I still had one left, the middle piece. On Tuesday I cut the piece in half. The top half was for the Dales and the bottom half a gift for my brother and his wife. I cannot imagine the pain and sorrow Paul is and will continue to go through. I have probably cried a years worth of tears in one week but seriously, with the sadness and pain, comes thankfulness. I am so grateful to God for the gift of Bryan and his family have been in my life and my family's life. Bryan wove his life, passion and beauty into so many people in his young life, including mine. I wanted to gift the weavings as a dedication of Bryan's inspirational life. It was an such an honor to know him......
Doing this was incredibly healing for me. Sadly, something I wanted to do for years, came out of loosing a precious friend and for the Dales, their son. But I know as Brandon and I talked to his parents at their house after Bryan's funeral and celebration service, my friend would have been so happy if he was there. It was so freeing to look at Allen and Judy and talk to them in person about the impact Bryan and they made on our lives.
The night before his funeral, Brandon wrote in a card to help express our gratitude towards the Dale family. Here are his words;
"Dear Allen and Judy,
It would be impossible to express all your family has meant to us over the years. In fact, you probably don't even realize most of the incredible ways you have impacted us. First and foremost, your son has meant the world to us. He was always so genuine, encouraging, challenging and kind whether it was discussing African rhythms in modern jazz or the overwhelming encouragement toward Debbie's art, he loved and cared deeply.
Furthermore, you will never know the impact those days in the ER and working in our basement had on us. your family has been paramount for Debbie's development as an artist. Please accept this gift of Debbie's weaving as a small token of our gratitude. It was on of Bryan's favorite pieces. He was always so encouraging of Debbie's development. May it remind you of his beautiful soul and the positive impact he made on all who met him.
Brandon and Debbie Jones"
Thank you my dear friend for all that you gave. Your life was an inspiration. In your young life you persevered through much pain to touch so many peoples' lives. You accomplished more in your life than most people twice your age. You were a true Gift from God. I love you Bryan and will always miss you.....but your inspiration and spirit will be woven into each new textile I create.