"In preparing for this eulogy, I received a lot of input from many different people. People I have never met. People who knew and loved Kelly. People that shared stories and experiences with her. I learned about the sweet Kelly that did so much for so many people. I learned about the “wild child” Kelly who, as I quote a friend of hers, “I will fondly remember my best bud KelBell, curls flowing, in a Go Go’s concert T-shirt, wearing Levi 501's (button fly only!) and pink and purple checked Vans… “. I listened to these stories, I have listened to the words that her husband Rick, her brothers, and her children have used when describing Kelly. And in all of this communication, there is one word that permeates, that seems to clearly embody the sweet light of Kelly Bryant.
I can attest to this kindness. Kelly was my sister in law and from that very first Thanksgiving as her baby brother’s new girlfriend, where I broke her garbage disposal and I’m pretty sure, a glass, she was nothing but open arms. She was inquisitive and when I talked with her she looked right in my eyes, with undivided attention. She exuded warmth and love. She would later announce during a family event that she wished her brother would marry me. I was so taken aback by her bold and sweet words, and in those words I felt so enfolded into that family, a part of the love, a part of the embrace that she gives everyone with that award winning smile.
Kelly was a matriarch; mother of four, sister to two little brothers, and she shined in that role. She was nurturing. She would call you to check in. She would send you updates on the kids. She would give thoughtful gifts at birthdays and milestones.
Kelly would do anything for you. She was strong. If you needed a friend you could call her and she would come to you. If you needed a place to stay her home was always open. She would go out of her way to help people in need. She truly cared about others and her warm smile always made you feel welcome.
My snapshot of Kelly was just that, a snapshot. It was a nearly 6 year relationship as a sister, a friend, a new member of the family. I stand here fully aware that there was so much more than just my snapshot, but I can tell you that in what I saw, in MY snapshot, I saw a mother who would do anything for her children, a mother who would talk about her children with such fierce pride and love. I saw a sister who would call her brothers and always end the conversation with “I love you”. I saw a friend, a fun loving girl who thought nothing of heading to Denver sunday after sunday in the heat to hang out with her friends and family at Jazz in the Park.
I also saw a woman; a woman who loved her family beyond measure. A woman that was strong, that would fight for the people she loved. A woman that embodied the spirit of motherhood, of warmth, of love.
But there is one more adjective that I feel greatly describes the woman that I was so privileged to know. One adjective that could only begin to describe the experience of suffering from early onset frontotemporal dementia. That word is Brave. The past two years she has been a brave warrior. She has been scared. She has been confused. It has been an extremely hard time, a hard time for all that loved her, and a hard time for her. She was losing control and the woman we all knew and identified with was unraveling. It was enough to break your heart. And yet with Kelly, even at the end, when things got really bad, when she could no longer communicate with her words, she could ALWAYS communicate with her eyes. I’ve witnessed the light that shone on her face when her husband was with her, when her daughter was with her, it was beautiful. It was pure, true love.
I didn’t want to write this eulogy about the recent past. Though it did exist and brought us to be standing here today, the Kelly that is in our hearts, and in our memories, far exceeds her brain that was breaking and her body that has died. Kelly was laughter. She was life. She was, and she is, love.
I’m going to share with you a few adjectives that her friends and family have used to describe Kelly.
Sweet, gentle, Welcoming, kooky, loving, giving, caring, open, mothering, supportive, faithful, accepting, fun-loving, silly, thoughtful, true, kind, compassionate, genuine, committed, selfless, gracious, dependable, light hearted, playful, encouraging, warm, kind hearted, generous, smiley, adventurous, real, inviting, creative, awesome, and my personal favorite...completely lovely.
It doesn’t seem fair to be reading the eulogy of my 44 year old sister in law of whom I truly loved. But there are things in this world we can never understand. Kelly relied strongly on her faith in Jesus, more so than ever towards the end of her life, and in that faith she was able to be the brave warrior that she was. That she is.
Beautiful Kelly, thank you for the light that you brought unto this world. As you watch down upon us, as you shine in the sky at night and dance in the breeze that kisses our faces, know in the depth of your soul, that you did real good.
We will carry your love with us always. Your love, our love, ONE love.