Thursday, February 2, 2017

Happy Birthday, Cody

Yes, it's 3:00 a.m. It's true I can't sleep. I have a lot on my mind, but mostly that tomorrow, February 3, would have been Cody's 29th birthday.

Not long after he passed away I started trying to wrap my brain around how I would cope with all the "firsts" this year. I stopped trying to wrap my brain around any of it when we spent our first Thanksgiving without him. I'm just coping with the "firsts" as they come. You can't really plan for any of it. I had an earlier blog post about Cody and "firsts" here. I cried reading that again. It's certainly bittersweet now. *sigh*

Christmas was rough. Very rough. I got through it by not putting a lot of extra pressure on myself and allowed it to just be whatever it was going to be. Whatever I felt like doing. Whatever Troy felt like doing. Or not doing. I made an effort, albeit slightly pathetic, for the sake of Troy, the kids and my grandson. It was quiet, but pretty much just what I needed. I think individually we did what we wanted while allowing the others to do what THEY wanted and needed to do. It worked. But I'm glad it's over.

What I did not expect was any emotion with New Year's. I had a meltdown on the way home from work as I realized 2017 would be the first full calendar year my son would not be alive. For any of it. It was a pretty hard gut punch.

And now I'm facing the first birthday without him. The 29th birthday that he will not be here for. The first February 3 in 29 years that I don't have to sit and figure out what special thing to gift him with. Last year I sent him money because he wanted new glasses. He was my practical child, always asking for things he needed. Drove me crazy most of the time because I like birthdays to be fun and frivolous. "Mam, I don't need any of that crap!" I ignored him most of the time and got frivolous things to go with the practical things.

So you may be asking yourself what, exactly, are my plans for tomorrow? This day that was normally set aside to celebrate? Well, we are still celebrating. In an enormously big way. More frivolous than Cody could have ever imagined.

The grand opening of the restaurant is tomorrow. It's been a long, drawn out process full of emotions but we are finally here. CAP's Pizza and Tap House is FINALLY here! We had a soft open on January 20 and if that weekend is any indication of what will happen tomorrow? Well, let's just say it will be the biggest birthday party Cody has ever had. I would say I'm sorry that he won't be there for it, but I believe he will be there. He is everywhere in the restaurant. From the name (CAP's - Cody Allen Pryor), to the logo (subtle skateboard reference), to the names of some of our signature pizzas (the "Coden" and the "Destroyer"). So, yes, he will be there.

Besides, Cody was never one to miss out on a good party.

Happy Birthday, Cody! I miss you every. single. day. But tomorrow? We celebrate!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Just the Two of Us

This guy…. 

As of 7:00 p.m. tonight  I’ve spent 32 years as his wife. I’m 51. So, literally more than half of my life. Almost 2/3.  61% of my years on this earth have been as Mrs. Troy Pryor. If you are geeky enough to check my math, don’t tell me if it’s wrong. Because you get the point.

It’s been a long time.

Like every relationship that is worth fighting for, we have had some struggles. Both large and small. Struggles that we created. Struggles that we had no control over. We are currently maneuvering through the largest struggle we’ve had in the past 32 years. We did not create this. We did not want this. Nobody would. But here we are.

We have an anniversary tradition. But like every other tradition we have, this year seems to be difficult to put any of them in to play for the holiday season. But our anniversary is for US. It is about US. We always made sure it was about US. Not our family. Not our kids. Just us. The two of us. So our annual day out in Old Sacramento is being put on hold. Instead we are hosting a private taste-testing at the restaurant (that, by the way, is still not open because of license and permit delays beyond our control). We decided we wanted to focus on something different. We didn’t really verbalize it to each other but because this year is already so different and hard we chose to concentrate on changing it up. A lot

Because let’s face it, our life has changed. A lot. And while today is about us, it’s about a damaged “us”. A wounded “us”. A grieving “us”.

But it’s still us. Still together. Still fighting. Getting through the season. Respecting each other in where we are in our own grieving process. And it is very different for us individually, but we are managing. Day by day.

And today? It’s about us.

Happy Anniversary, Troy. I know we frustrate each other on the daily, but I love you more than words could ever express. Thank you for always being more patient with me than I am with you. And thank you for letting me be where I need to be after losing our son. Our world was changed forever and I have faith that we will pass through this storm with the same perseverance as the other storms.

The sun will shine again. 

And when it does? Let's head to the boat.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The 3rd of Every Month

It’s the 3rd.

I’ve been fiercely trying to shove this day of the month to the back of my mind and not deal with it. But the 3rd of every single month will always and forever bring me to a place that I have to confront. Feelings to deal with. Last month was easier to move through the day as we continued to focus on the restaurant, family birthdays and distractions at work.

But not today. Not December 3rd.

Today marks 5 months since Cody died. (I still can’t write that without staring at it for several minutes, taking in the full impact and feeling my heart hurt). 5 months. It seems so long ago, yet today I got swept right back to that horrible first day. I was trying to figure out why this month is so much more difficult than last month. I have the same distractions. We are SO CLOSE to opening the restaurant and with that comes a million tiny last minute details. I’ve picked up extra shifts at work. I’m busy. Distracted.

Christmas 2003
But it’s December.

I knew it would be hard, this holiday season. But I was expecting it to be difficult closer to Christmas. But Christmas is everywhere already. On houses, in pictures, in stores, on the radio, on tv….everywhere. And each thing is a reminder that I will be missing someone this year. As each day passes I try to plan for a day to haul my decorations out and fill my home with all the things that warm my heart during the holiday season. But my grief tends to paralyze me unexpectedly and without warning. On those days just getting out of bed and being present for whatever I need to do is draining.

Today was one of those days.

But it’s December. Christmas is coming. I can’t stop it from coming. So I’ll keep trying to plan the day for decorating. (Grief, by the way, makes planning things nearly impossible.) My tree always makes me happy, but I’m dreading hanging all the ornaments that were bought for Cody over the years: Baby’s first Christmas, Black Power Ranger, Scooby Doo, a mouse on a skateboard, a few handmade ones from school and many others.  I’m trying to start new traditions that will honor Cody and bring us joy as we remember the 27 Christmases we had with him. So as I browse through the thousands of items on Amazon…the silly, the beautiful, the ridiculous, the amazing….I remember the craziness that was gift giving to Cody: Charlie Brown shirt, Nightmare Before Christmas stuff, 3D printed shirts with hamburgers…then later a matching backpack….beanies of every shape/size/color, beanies with crocheted beards attached to them, moon boots, things related to Bigfoot ("He's real, mom"), any article of clothing from Zumiez, skateboard decks/trucks/wheels in dazzling colors and designs, and always, ALWAYS, some insanely silly t-shirt shoved in his stocking.  

We haven’t talked much, as a family, about how Christmas will look this year. Maybe we are afraid to. Or maybe we are just busy ignoring it. The four of us have been insanely focused on getting this restaurant open for business. It brings a large amount of stress, but at the same time fills us with immense satisfaction as we see it coming to life. It’s been a blessing of sorts to have something else to focus our energy on. We will eventually be able to breathe and I honestly think there may be some tears as we exhale. Opening day will be exciting and happy and filled with a great deal of “WE DID IT” pride, but it doesn’t change the fact that Cody will not be here for opening day. Or for Christmas.

Or for his 29th birthday, coming up in February.

February 3rd.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A different kind of Thankful

Thanksgiving. Normally a day I use to reflect on how many blessings I have and how very grateful I am for the life God has given to me and my family. I don’t just save those sentiments for a single day out of the entire year, but Thanksgiving is that special day when reflection seems to be a given.

Except for this Thanksgiving.
A dear friend saved  this beautifully written post  on my Facebook wall.  I can relate on every level, almost as if I had written it myself. This year is so incredibly painful and sad, but I also have things to still be grateful for. And it’s perfectly okay to be in both of those worlds. But if I’m being honest it’s very difficult to be in the world of thankfulness and gratefulness. I’m not thankful for this heartache. This grief. This sadness. It paralyzes me far more often than I would like, but I can’t hurry it along. I can’t make it go away. I can’t always maneuver through it with grace and gratitude.
And while I sit in tears thinking about the empty chair at the table, my heart is also full from the other chairs that are filled. I’m so incredibly blessed to be in a position with my family to start a business in honor of Cody. To have something wonderful to focus our attention on does not go unappreciated. By any of us.
And so we ARE thankful. Just painfully so.
From the bottom of my heart I extend a sincere and warm “Happy Thanksgiving” to my family and friends near and far. If you find yourself with an empty chair at your table this year, my heart is with you. If it is the first year that chair is empty, my heart is aching for you. If your chairs are all full may the blessings that fill your heart not be taken for granted.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Five Minus One

So we are moving along with the restaurant. We had a major roadblock yesterday (thank you, state of CA and taking forever to get through the application process for a liquor license). Feeling the sting of a potential delay, we decided to focus our attention on the food and quickly (understatement) organized a taste test of various recipes for different items we will be having on the menu. Also included were an array of beers and wines from a vendor. If I'm being honest, I think we wanted to just focus on testing the beer and wine after the bad news we got. But we are forging ahead with FOOD and DELIVERY and if that means we have a soft opening without a liquor license and a huge grand opening once we get it? Then that's what it means.

Welcome to the fun of owning your own business.

Troy and I ran around town getting specific ingredients for pizza dough, wings, sauces, etc. A few invites went out and a small, intimate group gathered in our kitchen. As the beer and wine tasting began, the room was filled with laughter and chattering. The wings came out a couple of samples at a time. The pasta came. The pizza never did. Epic fail not allowing enough time for the dough to rise. But we'll fix that with taste-testing number 2. I think we'll plan it a little further in advance.

The excitement of moving forward with this endeavor was not lost on me. As the evening moved along the laughter got louder, the conversation lighter, the kitchen messier. At one point I looked at my son and daughter, both intently writing and reading something in a journal that documented what each of us liked or didn't like about all the things we were testing. Someone made a comment, to which they both burst out in laughter.

And it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. Like it does without warning.

Cody is not here. My family of five is now a family of four.

Oh, how I longed for him to be there in that wonderfully perfect family moment. To hear his infectious laugh. To read the nonsense he would have written about the taste of the wings or the epic fail of the pizza dough. To see the excitement in his eyes about the family adventure we are on.

Cody loved adventures.

But he is not here. Not in the physical sense, anyway. So I can't see the sparkle in his eyes. I can't hear that perfectly infectious laugh. But like so many other times since July 3, I got a clear sign that my son is here with me. Today as I was navigating through some pictures I came across a folder full of pictures from a vacation that I went on several years ago with my mom and Cody. I looked in this folder a dozen times when I was preparing for his service. But today I noticed there were videos. Several of them. And the first one I clicked on to play was this one.

We were sitting in a hotel room one morning while the staff was unclogging our toilet (that's how things normally go during a Pryor vacation) My mom was always a good sport when it came to my children taking pictures or videos of her. This is no exception....visually annoyed but still humoring Cody.

Humoring Cody.

That laugh.


Thank you, God, for giving me this gift today and reminding me that my son is still here. Cody knew exactly what I needed to hear today. I'm forever grateful I have this video so I can listen to his laugh whenever my heart aches to hear it.

We are still five.

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