Sunday, September 2, 2018

Another Pryor Milestone

I've mentioned many times in the last two years how each of my family members is dealing with Cody's loss in their own, individual ways. Grieving is different for everyone. Troy and I lost a child. Nathan and Lindsay lost their sibling. Cody was also a grandson, a nephew, an uncle, a cousin and a friend to people I am still meeting 2 years after his death.

My surviving children have displayed varying degrees of grief and it is unique and different from the other even though the commonality is loss of their sibling. Their best friend. Their "let's do something sneaky behind mom & dad's back" partner in crime. But they have one thing in common in moving forward:  CAP's Pizza & Tap House.

We started this venture in a small way before Cody died. I've told that story before, but he and Nathan wanted to do something together and Nathan suggested a pizza joint. The rest of that story is floating around, but the bottom line is we decided to continue this pursuit without the 5th member of our family. Nathan dove in head first with the kind of gusto and determination that both made me proud and worried me at the same time. This grief was pretty fresh for all of us and I wanted to make sure he was dealing with it and not avoiding it by filling his life with the stressful job of opening a business. Not just a business. A restaurant.

Have I ever told you how stressful owning a restaurant is? No? Well, consider yourself informed.

Nathan did much of the leg work associated with the business side of things. He and his friends gutted and remodeled the inside of the restaurant and I nit picked over details associated with paint color and decor. We had issues with our business license and I thought Nathan would have a stroke as we almost didn't pass the final health inspection due to the placement of our huge pizza oven. We fought and argued and disagreed about many things leading up to our opening.

But we made it.

 My children are only in their 20's and a venture like this is huge, even for a seasoned business owner. Each of them has their own strengths they bring to the business. And it challenges them both equally on the parts of the job that is difficult for their personality type. But their focus and their goal is always the same: we are doing this for Cody.  And we continue to fight and argue and disagree about many things.

Like when/where to open a second location.

But my stubborn, driven, tenacious middle child went forth to conquer regardless of how uncomfortable I was with it. He had another reason to pursue this expansion.

Carly Ann Pryor
Best reason ever. I'm sure Cody approved from wherever he was looking down on us.

And so with all the tenacity of opening that first location, the hard work, long hours and sheer determination to prove to me it was possible, Nathan and his business partner Tyler opened up CAP's Pizza & Tap House in Stockton. Their grand opening was yesterday and it was a great success. And while it struck me in the gut that we were still a "-1" for this celebration, I found it fitting to take the picture where we did.

l to r: Troy, Cheri, Lindsay, Carly, Nathan and Carla

I'm so proud of my children and all they put in to this business. Their time, their love, their dedication. It does not go unnoticed.

Congratulations, Nathan! I know your brother would be proud.

(aka "the mom")

September....more than the end of summer

September is Suicide Awareness Month. I have to be honest and tell you that I was not fully aware that there was an entire month dedicated to this subject prior to July, 2016. And after that horrible call my family received about Cody I found myself talking about it all the time, not just the month of September. But some really incredible people reached out to me about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and I've been involved in some degree since then.

"Involved in some degree...." seems like a strange thing to say since the degree to which I was impacted by my son's suicide was much grander than "some degree". We opened an entire restaurant in his memory. I'm still suffering from a broken heart and trying very hard to pull the pieces of my prior self back to together. Some of those pieces don't quite fit yet. It's a struggle. My whole family struggles with it in their own individual ways. But there are things I can do to help others while perhaps making sense of why I am in this horrible club that nobody wants to be a part of.

One of the things I became involved with was the Out of the Darkness walk that raises funds for AFSP in their mission to save lives, bring hope and help end the stigma associated with mental illness and depression. It is a sense of community, bringing people together for a reason that is heartbreaking and full of sadness. These walks are amazing and help in a small way to heal the wounds left behind in the survivors of suicide victims.The first year I participated I was numb. It was still very fresh and very raw. Last year I found myself hugging strangers along the walk who were participating in their first event, knowing their pain and sadness, but yet giving them a sense of hope that there is healing in the future. That it won't always feel this raw.

September 29 is the Sacramento chapter's "Out of The Darkness Walk" We will be there in our purple, "Team Cody Pryor", walking for change and hope. If you would like to join our team, please go to the link below and click "Join Our Team". Help us raise funds, join us on Saturday morning, or both....or simply make a donation. The love and support I get each year from my family and friends is always heartwarming and I'm certain it will be no different this year.

Thank you all for your support, love and encouragement over the past 2 years.

Team Cody Pryor

Monday, July 2, 2018

It's July 2....

....which means two years ago I was having the last day of my old life. I was happy. My kids were doing well and everything seemed to be in place. We were getting ready to invest in a family adventure. Life was good.

Then it wasn't.

I miss Cody. Still. After 2 years. My heart still aches to be able to hear that infectious laugh just one more time. To have him bolt through the front door yelling, "Mam!" But if I'm also being honest Cody was an up and down test of my emotions for years. The ups were wonderful. When the sober, clean Cody was around life was balanced. But the downs were serious and during the ups I was constantly worried for his health and safety knowing the downs inevitably would come. He was in rehab twice and struggled with alcohol addiction. But he was happy and sober the last 6 months of his life.

Until he wasn't.

I will never know what thing set him off and sent him down the path of self destruction. Just 4 days before he died by suicide Troy and I had seen him in Oregon. As we hugged and said our goodbyes my heart was calm. He was happy. Seemingly at peace. But that's the lie of depression and mental illness. While Cody was thrilled, happy, and grateful that we made the trip to visit him he was struggling. I'm forever grateful that the last days I had with my son were filled with laughs, good conversation and fun. Certainly the upswing that gave my heart that calmness. That peace that perhaps my son had finally found his inner happiness. That maybe the down wouldn't be so overwhelming for him next time.

Until it was.

The worst kind of down imaginable happened on July 3, 2016. I still remember that call. That horrible, unbelievable call followed by days of horrible, unimaginable grief. A grief that still resides within me but has become something different. My life changed forever that day. I changed forever that day. Some pieces of me have been restored but other parts have been forever altered. I'm still learning which is which and to be okay with all of it. I'm embracing all the good and wonderful changes life has brought since Cody's death. The restaurant we opened to honor him gives our entire family purpose and the strength to push forward. It can be hard and trying....similar to life with Cody for so many it seems appropriate that the very place named after him would have ups and downs. It's stressful. And rewarding. And trying. And fun. And tiring. And fullfilling. But even with the ups of the restaurant and seeing my son's picture everyday I was there, there was still an absence of joy.

Until there wasn't.

I have a new, beautiful granddaughter. A lovely little bundle of joy who shares the initials of the uncle she will never know. Carly Ann Pryor has already wrapped her little soul in all our hearts. She brought joy back to my life and I am forever grateful for God's blessing at just the right time. My sweet grandson is completely enamored with her, too. It is a beautiful thing to see him interact with her, give her kisses and ask to, "hode Cahwe". These tiny humans fill my heart and make me look foward to future events with Pa and Mae. Last week we had Tristan overnight on the boat. Oh, to have such joy in my life over something so simple. It was a treat for sure! The anticipation and excitment of having those grandchildren spend a weekend with us on the water as they grow up truly gives me something to look foward to.

So tomorrow will still be somber. The one day of the year that is the hardest for me. For my family. Life changed that day. But life has continued to change. It gets better. Not easier, but better. Joy has returned. Hope exists. Happiness surrounds me and I don't always struggle to see it.

And that's a very good thing.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Dear Carly,

I was given a writing assignment at work to describe what my life looks like when things are in harmony. Or out of harmony. I had the entire thing written and it was a beautiful piece of editorial genius, perfectly describing how my heart aches when relationships are struggling, both personally and professionally. Or how it sings when my family can spend an afternoon together and laugh and have a good time. Or how easy things flow and creative ideas emerge when working relationships are so in-sync. And how my life hasn't felt in complete harmony with anything since Cody died.

Then you were born. And my words didn’t quite make sense anymore.

Carly Ann Pryor  -  2 hours old
How a tiny precious little life can make my heart sing again is surely a gift from God Himself. The joy that I had been missing since July, 2016 came flooding back the moment I held you. I had been searching for it. Waiting for it. Hoping it would find it's way back to me. There were many happy moments, but the true joy I use to have in every day things was simply absent.

Then you were born.

All of these things I thought described what I needed in order to have harmony made no sense once joy returned. It was joy...the key ingredient for me to feel my life is harmonious. There are so many things that used to bring me joy that were lost once grief took over. But now that I've felt that spark again? The happiness-on-steroids jolt of joy I felt the first time I held you? I realized it was the one thing still missing for complete harmony.

Harmony can be described in many ways, but the most common definition is relative to music and the combination of pitches and tones to form a pleasing musical sound. Your sighs and gurgles in harmony with my son's goo-goo noises and baby talk is filling my heart with joy and it is truly the best music in my life right now. You have changed his whole world, his perspective, his priorities, his definition of love. I watched your daddy melt as the nurse put your tiny self in to his arms. My heart was full.

Is my life in perfect harmony? No. Is anyone's? No. But now that a sense of it has returned, however brief, I have hope that it will come around more often. And now that you are finally here I sense "more often"  is an understatement.

Thank you for filling my heart with joy and giving me hope that the days ahead will fill the voids from grief. They are already filled with love, laughter, goo-goo noises, hope and excitement as we watch you grow and wrap us all up in your cuteness. I love you to the moon and back, my sweet granddaughter. 


Friday, February 2, 2018

Another Birthday...forever 28....

It seems like I wrote about celebrating the first birthday without Cody yesterday. I just finished rereading it and as tears stream down my face I can't help but think about how different every February 3 will be from now on. A celebration, yes. But a celebration of the life already lived and not the life left to live. I also shed some tears for the mom who wrote that a year ago. She sounds like she was in a much different place than today. More sadness. More despair. Less hope. It was, strangely enough, a bit peaceful.

As I move further and further away in time from July 3, 2016 I find the smiles come easier. There are things to laugh about again. Things to look forward to and hope for. But there are other factors that start coming in to play in this grief journey. A journey that, quite frankly, sucks with all the hit-by-a-brick moments that launch me in to more reality that my son is no longer here but life continues.

Cody would have turned 30 tomorrow. A new decade. A decade that he will not be here for. A birthday that I may have purchased a cane, adult diapers and denture cream as a gift along with something practical. A birthday that we would have, no doubt, celebrated with gusto and fanfare. And as I see posts from his friends and others on Facebook talking about turning 30 it makes my heart hurt. But not quite as much as my heart hurts thinking about how my middle child will turn 28 this year.

Cody died when he was 28.

And why should that matter?  Nathan needs to be celebrated and lifted up and talked about because I'm so very proud of him.Why can't I just celebrate Nathan turning 28 without relating/comparing/thinking about Cody never being older than 28?  Because, grief.

Stupid grief.

And I'm sure it will hit hard again in 2 years when my youngest turns 28. Or not. Grief is unpredictable so who knows what will happen to me on February 3, 2020....when Lindsay turns 28 and Nathan turns 30. 30. The number that is hitting me so hard this year.

Stupid grief. So tired of it hanging around. *sigh*

I've written before about God's timing being perfect in every way and February 3 is no exception. After all the physical/mental/emotional work we were finally able to open the restaurant last year. The timing of being able to have our Grand Opening on Cody's birthday is still not lost on me. I truly believe it was God's perfectly timed gift for this grieving mom. A way for me to remember and celebrate the life Cody lived on the very day set aside just for him when he was still here. A day to continue celebrating instead of thinking about what I've lost. What we all lost. Who we lost.

So tomorrow on the day that we would have celebrated turning 30, we instead celebrate turning 1, a number that represents youth and joy and hope for the future. 1 year behind us with many ahead of us. 1 year of hosting parties and celebrations and first dates and family holiday dinners. 1 year of smiles and laughs and love.

Happy Birthday, Cody. CAP's is turning 1! Here's to 29 more.

Related Posts with Thumbnails