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How do we approach the elephant in the room, when a young man – a flying instructor who loves flying? – dies in a plane crash? It was Craig’s aunt who first found me to create Craig’s healing dreamscape, but it was the father, Dale, who was far ahead of the curve. It was his vision to print the dreamscape onto T-shirts, which he would hand out any time, to Craig’s friends and family. Here Dale explains how the act of “campaigning” with these T-shirts has helped him and his family heal:
“Photos are what you’re left with. And capturing the personality of my son in one portrait, so to speak, it’s different. Like flying, which he loved to teach. Like the flip flops he wore, made out of indoor-outdoor carpeting.
I explain to people that the art was inspired by his favorite song by Ziggy Marley, “Love is My Religion.” That the fruit is in the shape of country of Jamaica. It’s a process of asking questions.
The major thing for me is handing out Craig’s T-shirt as a gift to his friends. I had 39 – 40 made. I try and always have some extra T-shirts in my trunk, and I’ll say “Hey, I’ve got something for you.” They’ll say, “Wow, that’s Craig!” Or “That’s neat,” or “I like it” and some will even put it on right there. Or they’ll say, “Yeah, I know, you gave one to John; I just saw him wearing it the other day.” The T-shirt keeps showing up in all different places. Craig’s nephew wore it in May under his cap and gown. On Craig’s death anniversary one of his friends wore one. Everybody seems to like it.
I enjoy giving Craig’s T-shirt out as a gift – it was good for me too that it was really more novel, more creative like Craig. We had some framed too, and everybody has it displayed differently. I put mine in a frame of distressed wood in my beach house because we have a lot of memories there.”
Suggested reading: The Healing Power of a Legacy T-Shirt (Hektoen International: Journal of Medical Humanities)