I’ve been struggling since I heard with whether and how to post something here about this. It’s been hard to find the words. Early Friday morning, our friend and brother Bern Doyle-Dimou died suddenly at home. He was just 44 years old. Even choosing a headline was hard. First, I wrote that we had “lost” a brother. But while that had a comforting sound, it implies that we just need to look harder and we’ll find him. “Passed” was gentle, but felt too superficial. Bern had more impact an us and on our community than could be conveyed by “passing.” I was left with “died.” I like to think that Bern would have appreciated the use of honest and direct language to describe the situation.
Most of us never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but he touched many of our lives nonetheless. Many times and in many ways, he inspired the best in us. And he drew our best out of us. He reminded us by his example of the power of kindness. A true Canadian, Bern was in the habit of stopping at the Tim Horton’s drive-thru on the way to work in the morning. But he rarely, if ever, just paid for himself. Instead, Bern made it his usual practice to pay for his own order and the order of the car behind him. Such an elegant, simple, beautiful and utterly selfless act. He drove away after paying – he would never hear the gratitude of the person behind him in the line. But imagine just how many tired, cranky, frustrated people’s days pivoted in an instant, courtesy of Bern.
And Bern didn’t just lead by example when it came to the little things. He stood tall when it came to the big stuff too. While he and his wife were already raising two children, they began opening their home to foster children. Many of us have been following along with Bern and his family as they’ve worked tirelessly against more obstacles than even their unusually-well-prepared family could have anticipated facing, to become their most recent foster child’s forever family. The joy in his heart as there finally seemed to be some light at the end of that tunnel was palpable from hundreds of miles away.
The DISDads are raising money through the end of the month of August in memory of Bern. Our plan is to make a gift to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in Bern’s memory. If you wish to give as part of the group gift, you can send money via PayPal. Because it’s a group donation, it’s not tax deductible. If you wish to make a tax deductible contribution directly to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, you should feel free to do that as well. We’ll also be augmenting our group donation with any income that the DISDads Store makes the rest of this month.
And the next time you’re going through a drive-thru, consider paying for the car behind you. It’s what Bern would do.
Our world is diminished by Bern leaving it. But it is a better, richer, kinder place for Bern Doyle-Dimou having been in it. And we are better people for having known him. May his memory be for a blessing, and continue to be an inspiration to us all.