The day was cold, bright and sunny with just a few clouds. Snow was melting around us. Ruth said its just what Bryan would want; he'd complained about the lingering fog the last week - on this day, there was none.
Many of us arrived early to set up the computer slideshow that ran in the back of the room (you can see the exact slideshow presentation by clicking here) and to make sure everything was in order. Bryan was waiting for us already when we arrived. Dressed in a black suit and HAVE A NICE DAY tie (Ruth has a picture of him wearing this suit during life; perhaps she will scan it for us) - Bryan looked at peace.
The services were conducted by Bryan's uncle, Reverend Richard Bryant. The room was packed full of family, friends, and even on-line acquaintances from out of state showed up to honor Bryan including his mother, father, brother and aunts and uncles.
A moving solo song performance was offered by Toshia Wells, Bryan's cousin. Most of us were in tears after it.
Bryan's Uncle Ben offered up scripture of wisdom and comfort; discussing how this life was just the beginning and that Bryan had simply moved on to a better place. (I'll try to provide the chapters and verses read).
It was then my (Shane R. Monroe's) honor to read Bryan's Obituary. You can see the original document read by clicking here. I was so appreciative that I was offered this to participate in my friend's passing.
Carol Hallowell (Ruth's sister) read the acknowledgements to those that had contributed to the funeral, flowers, etc.
It was then 'open mic' for friends and family to come forward and speak about Bryan and what he meant to them. His Aunt Carrie sang a song (very heartfilled). His childhood friends from L.A. came up together and each spoke briefly about Bryan. I, myself spoke more about my best friend. MANY others come forward through the tears and offered up their feelings. (Perhaps I can get an accurate list here.)
The good Reverend then spoke the Eulogy (perhaps I can get a summary of this).
After the service, almost everyone stayed around to offer personal words of comfort to Bryan's widow, Ruth. It was very moving.
Following the service was the reception hosted by Joanie and Bart Jacka (Ruth's Aunt & Uncle) at their beautiful home. So many people were in attendance. The food spread was incredible; featuring meat and cheese trays with a variety of crackers to a pot of unreal meatballs (I went Godzilla on the meatballs) to an amazing desert table (Apple Pie/Cobbler, cream puffs, an unusual toffee/chocolate cookie, and more) to home baked lasagna. Together we gathered ... told stories about Bryan ... engaged in the sort of fellowship only weddings and funerals seem to bring together. I met new friends that day; friends of Bryan's that I'd heard about but never met. I learned of some of Bryan's other sides and lives that I wasn't directly associated with; and got to impart the part of Bryan that I had shared with his friends. Thanks to the Jacka's for their endearing hospitality.
Bryan was cremated in Reno, Nevada. His ashes were given to Ruth in an "Earth Box"; a heart-shaped box covered with the same mulberry paper Ruth used to make their wedding invitations. The box has wildflower seeds in it so when you place it in the earth, they will grow. Ruth plans to plant a tree (and Bryan) and watch them grow together.
Despite it all; when all was said and done - we got to say goodbye to Bryan and we were all there for each other. While its hard to put any good spin on Bryan's passing, the tribute to Bryan brought people together and hopefully formed relationships that will last a long long time.