Saturday, November 25, 2017

So Grateful....

The last 16 months have been both a blur and a slow-moving progression. I've spent many days/weeks/months processing grief and trying to live my new reality. I could never have done any of it without the help of my family and friends.

Troy and I decided that this year's Thanksgiving should be one of gratitude and love for those who have helped the Pryors maneuver through all the things nobody should have to maneuver through. Since the very first day of Cody's passing they all scooped us up in their arms and carried us through some pretty difficult days with love, patience and compassion. My own children have been stoic around Troy and I for the most part, but I know they have had their own grief to struggle with. So this year Thanksgiving was for them, too.

We hosted a big dinner at the restaurant. Fitting, we thought, since the very place we gathered at was born out of the tragedy that they all helped us through...are still helping us through...will forever help us through as the 4 of us continue processing this new normal. It was a feast to behold! As I walked around snapping pictures my heart was full, my eyes watery, and my spirit renewed.

I still miss my son so very much. Not a single day has passed that he is not the last thing on my mind as I lay down each night. My other two children carry his spirit without even realizing it when they talk about a memory, use some silly childhood phrase, or gesture in some of the sames ways he did. Genetics are a fascinating thing and I have a new appreciation for them as I watch my other two children live their lives.

Cody is always here, living through them.

To all of our family and friends, thank you. We are so grateful for your love and support. To everyone else, make sure this holiday season is filled with grace, love and compassion for those around you. The holidays can be a lonely time for some so if you know someone who has struggled in the past or may be struggling now, reach out. Talk. Support. Love. It's always about love.

May your holiday season be filled with blessings!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

359 Days

Exactly that many days ago Troy and I were spending time with Cody and Sydney in Oregon after celebrating a beautiful wedding of a close friend. Exactly that many days ago at this exact time I was taking these selfies, filled with joy at getting to see my son that I hadn't seen in more than 6 months.

These pictures make my heart hurt. I miss him so much. At times it seems unbearable. And as we approach that horrible 1 year mark it becomes all too real all over again. It seems so long ago. Because it was 359 days ago, after all. A long time. But in the same breath I remind myself, "It's only been a year." It seems like Cody is just on some bus somewhere, traveling with his wayward friends and enjoying life the way he needed to. 

But he's not traveling. He's not out of cell service range and can't call me.

He's just gone. He will never be calling me again. Not in 10 days when my birthday rolls around. Not on Troy's birthday. Never. And the longer I go without hearing his voice, the more I feel his absence.

There are many things in my life that are difficult since Cody died. Simple things. Things that defined me as a person before July 3, 2016. I just don't have the energy for most of them. My brain just has a difficult time processing things like it used to and it's draining...and physically tiring. So execution of the smallest of tasks seems like a monumental undertaking. But how am I still working? Good question, but the answer probably lies in the fact that I have nothing left once I leave work. I'm forgetful, I'm tired. I'm kind of numb with spurts of sporadic energy usually reserved for my husband, children and grandson. I don't have much patience and I really use to have a boatload. It's hard for me to smile and be polite with strangers when I want to tell them why I'm not happy and overshare my entire life because I think they need to know I'm not normally like this. Over analyzing what people might be thinking about my frown is another of my favorite pastimes lately. It shouldn't matter what they think. I need to just BE however it is I need to BE.

I also have all these things rolling around in my brain that I want to do but can't actually follow through with. Mailing a pile of gifts to people around the world that I've gathered up along the year to show my appreciation for those that have reached out to my family. Mailing just one of them. Mailing a damn birthday card. Buying a birthday card. Getting dressed to go get the birthday card. Getting dressed. Getting out of bed.

Execution - 0; Grief - 9,284,760.

So getting back to the gym seems pretty much impossible right now. So impossible I don't even put it on the list of short-term goals. It's on the list of things I use to do. With about 98 other things.

I would love to scrapbook again, but my scrap supplies haven't really been touched since I was planning Cody's service. It's a disaster in there, with reminders piled everywhere of the last big project I did. So then motivation quickly dies.

Execution - 0; Grief - 9,284,761.

There was one aspect in my life that I just could not look at anymore. This is a great illustration of my brain, actually. If you are of a certain age you can remember the drug-awareness campaign that quoted, "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs." with a picture of an egg cracked open in to a frying pan.

This is my brain on grief. My side of the bed looked like this for about 11 months.

This is my brain trying to find a version of its formal self. And looking to make my bedroom a more peaceful, restful place in an effort to find some of that elusive sleep. From the time I decided it needed to be done to full execution - 6 weeks. It took me just a day from start to finish.

Execution - 1. And the rest of that score doesn't matter because I've got 1. It's a start.

I'm a long way from being okay, from feeling truly okay. I think each of the Pryors have some really good days and we are each battling in our own ways to keep life moving forward and not let Cody's absence overcome us. We are working through all of it and each day gets better. But we also have our bad days. And the grief doesn't always show up in tears. Sometimes it's laughter. Sometimes it's forgetfulness. Sometimes it's temperament. Sometimes it's a burst of motivation. Sometimes it's procrastination. Sometimes it's fatigue. Sometimes it's anxiety. Sometimes it's IDGAF. And sometimes it's every single one of those things in a single day.

But it's always grief in some form because we lost a member of our family. Troy and I lost a child. Nathan and Lindsay each lost a brother AND their best friend. It's going to take a long time to be "okay". Truly okay.

Much longer than 359 days.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Sentiments

Everyone around me, beside me, thinking of me knows how terribly difficult this year's Mother's Day is for me. I have gotten calls and texts from "kids" who have known my children for years. These "kids" were part of the every-day revolving door attached to my home as we raised our children.

Basically, I have a lot of children. I just didn't birth all of them.

I'm missing an important one this year. The one who most certainly would have already called me with a beaming, "Mam! Momma! Mommy!" when I answered the phone. I also don't get to see my mom's face light up as I planted flowers all over her yard for Mother's Day. So my heart hurts today.

I also have TWO important ones to celebrate this day with. Two children that still make my heart ache with the kind of love a mom has specifically for them.  Nathan and Lindsay are the reason I will post about Mother's Day with happiness in my heart and gratefulness that they are here with me to hug a little tighter. They can bring peace to my fragile heart like nobody else can right now. They are the connection I have to the one who is no longer here. When I hug them, I hug their brother.

But there is truly so much more to them than that. As I've watched them navigate their own journey since losing their best friend it warms my heart how they've grown to appreciate each other more. There was a time when these two didn't speak to each other. It broke this momma's heart. I prayed for their relationship and that they would find a way to have peace with each other and become better friends. Not best friends. I'm not sure these two could be that for each's  been a loooooong childhood with them. lol! But as adults who have experienced the same, difficult loss it has brought them together.

Nathan is my strong-willed, tenacious, stubborn, funny child with a wonderfully soft heart. You would never know it by the wall of toughness he throws up to keep from getting emotional. But this guy is a softie. He's loyal. He's generous. He's a pain in the butt.

Lindsay is my strong-willed, stubborn, silly child who wears her emotions on her sleeve. She struggles with the likes of depression and some other difficult diagnosis, but that girl is driven and focused on getting out of bed every. single. day. to try and make it better than the last one. But most importantly she is a wonderful mother to my grandson. He tests her on the daily, but her love for that little guy is evident in everything she does. He is the center of her universe. He is her everything.

For everything my children are AND are not, I celebrate being their mom today. I'm so very thankful to God that I was given the beautiful gift of motherhood. It hasn't always been easy. In fact, this year has been the most difficult of all my years. But it is always rewarding. I just have to be sure to look with my eyes and heart wide open.

I love you, NayNay and Missy. You are my world and I'm so very happy and proud to be your mom. today and every. single. day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Hello, Joy? I miss you....

I wish you were here with me, in this very different life I have. There were so many things you were part of. Simple things. A clean house. Fresh flowers from my yard in a vase. A scenic drive. Watching my grandson play. The list was truly endless. Somehow you left me without warning. It wasn't even a slow break up.

It was a shattering of my heart. Damn you, Joy.

In your absence over the last 9 months Anxiety, Depression and Indifference have stepped in. I don't like them. It's difficult to execute things on my list that when those idiots are around. They pretty much suck the life out of me where you would GIVE me life. You were always a breath of fresh air, Joy. That unexpected card in my mailbox. The long, lighthearted conversation with one of my children on the back porch. A beautiful sunset. A clear night where all the stars twinkled. Even a hard day at work after it was over and I could reflect. All things you would show up for.

And where in the hell are you now?

I keep tying to find you. During a birthday. During a holiday. When I see spring bursting at the seams now that we've had some rain. Listening to my grandson laugh. Coffee. Getting a pretty new outfit. Having a great hair day. Seeing the restaurant full of customers. Yummy food. A fun craft project. Vacation with beautiful friends. Coffee.

But you are still nowhere to be found.

Anxiety, Depression and Indifference have paralyzed me. In all the places I think you might be hiding, they make it difficult for me to simply crawl out of bed and find you. I WANT to have a fun birthday celebration for someone. I WANT to participate with my family on a holiday. I WANT to scrapbook again. I just can't execute any of it. Then our lovely friend Regret gets to tag along. She's the biggest fun-sucker of them all. But regardless of my desire to kick all their asses, I can't do it alone. Not without you.

I appreciate that you have sent a few folks in your place in the (hopefully) short term. Happiness makes sporadic appearances. She shows up during things like that first sip of coffee, when my grandson gives me a big hug or when I have a random memory of Cody pop in my head. Contentment also shows up for tiny intervals, usually after long soaks in a bubble bath. But the best companion you sent is Gratefulness. She is always riding shotgun, but I admit that I sometimes forget to acknowledge she is there because of those other idiots. She is always around in the form of my husband, my son, my daughter, my grandson. I see her often with friends and extended family. She is close at my side when I am in prayer.

Praying for you, Joy. Praying that somehow you will find your way back to me. Or maybe it is me that needs to find you. Either way, I promise I will keep looking and keep searching for you. I won't give up. In the meantime, if you would like to send Sleep to help out I wouldn't say no.

Your friend and desperate companion,

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!

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