LIVE LIKE CODY
Updated: Mar 30, 2020
“Your light's reflected now, reflected from afar, We were but stones, your light made us stars”.
- Pearl Jam
Cody was a man with a passion for life like the energy of a child. He was the kind of person who genuinely wanted to know you, he listened attentively and compassionately. He shared his joy, his heart, his mind and his wonderful sense of humor with us and had resilience that is unmatched. He was light, bright, and warm goodness.
Cody, I will miss procrastinating getting on the water just to enjoy your company a little longer in the shop. I will miss laughing at ridiculous moments with you, miss seeing your smile and the way you welcomed people to CapitalSUP as if you got paid to work there. You loved sharing the stoke of the water with new comers and regulars alike. I will never forget after grom camp, spending time together, you indo boarding, me, just watching and talking with you.... I will never forget the time that one customer came out of the bathroom (across the parking lot) in nothing but a towel because she left her clothes in the cubby. I will never forget how we both miraculously remained composed even when she asked you to leave so she can dress in the shop, as if there were stalls, not customers around etc. After leaving, the immediate laughter that filled the shop between the two of us, still makes me giggle. (If you've ever been to CapitalSUP, you know there is no where private or closed off area and that in order for her to be in the shop in a towel, she walked through the parking lot, across the boat loading tracks and through the marina, before getting to the shop.)
I will miss the way a room got brighter with you in it, though I know your light within us now will never fade . You were and will continue to be a bright light for people in so many ways whether it be on the water, in their own darkness and struggle or just hanging out with friends. Your memory will continue to shine and remind us daily of the what you’ve taught us - to give and be present but mostly to live fully from the heart.
Thank you for sharing your light and wisdom. Thank you for reminding me it’s ok to ask for help and that nothing ever goes the way we plan but it goes the way its supposed to.
And I’m sorry I never got to say thank you for your comforting words and blunt honesty. You gave me fresh perspective and another approach to viewing my career. You took the time to read a diatribe of a blog post (well admittedly only part of it) and as we sat on the water after a paddle, looking down Spa Creek towards the Eastport Bridge, you simply asked me, “if you feel good and it makes you happy doing [all these] things, what does it matter what they want?” I literally wrote it down. We were talking about my career and how I really needed to figure out what meal solution I could find and what new workouts I could do to change, admitting I really really missed running, swimming, and HIIT workouts. Sharing how I felt full and like I was thriving when I was doing all those things and sharing that running had always been therapy for me, releasing endorphins and allowing me to more levelheadedly go about my life. You gave me a perspective that just sorta said, "F* them. Who cares what they want you to be and look like if you found things that make you happy? If you feel good, what does it matter what they think and want?"
I remember having a hard time swallowing that. I didn't have a good answer. I didn't know why it mattered so much, I mean I did by the obedient dancer I had become, always thinking someone else knew better than I did what I needed for myself... I never got to say thank you because as much as I didn’t want to see it that way, you gave me a strange permission and freedom to my own path. One, that for whatever reason, I refused to see until that night on the water watching the sun begin to drop from the sky.
It still rings in my head too. I won't forget that conversation. In fact, I play it over and over again.
For those of you who did not have the pleasure of having your life touched by Cody Iorns, I am sorry. His legacy will live on. Do yourself a favor, look up the hashtag #livelikeCody. You'll see about how he touched people's lives. You'll see glimpses of his life through different lenses. While I may not have been the closest person to Cody, I never felt on the outs. You never felt anything but fully present with him and him with you. I'm not really sure how to describe it, but you just became more present with him around, strangely more attuned to what was important without it being spelled out for you. There were parts of Cody's life I didn't know about, like his beautiful son Bradley, his family and friends. I have since then had the privilege of learning so much more about him, meeting his loved ones from other points of his life.
As I sit down to write this blog, I want to thank my CapitalSUP family for providing a safe place to grieve, to feel, to hurt, to celebrate and to live fully in the wake of our dear friend. We celebrated Cody's life and honored the beautiful soul he was, in what we believed was the most appropriate way. We were joined by people from all points of Cody's life. Bradley, his six year old son, learned to paddle, fish, crab and officially became a lifelong CapitalSUP family member. I had the pleasure of meeting him, paddling, floating, and playing on the water with him. He is most certainly his father's son. We played king of the hill on a massive floatie, we jumped off the docks and we yelled "Pasghetti" because it was better than yelling "help" and it was his favorite food. We pretended to be sea monsters and we laughed, we laughed a LOT. That evening and the days leading up to Sunday morning's celebration, we gave the marina a make over. We cleaned, we brought life to the marina with CapitalSUP race training members' personal hydrangeas that we just in mason jars with sand and water. We set up stations to view parts of Cody's life in the military, his passions, and we put his board out to be signed. It became an admittedly painful but incredibly beautiful celebration in honor of Cody. To be honest, I'm sure he was laughing at us making some witty or sarcastic comments but I also think he'd be pretty blown away. Little did he know the impact he had, and the impact he did have, he treasured, at least that is my take.
Sunday morning, we gathered as a Cody community... a community made up of the CapitalSUP family, his Walter Reed community and with Cody's family ( his son, ex-wife, mother and brothers, and others from the life we didn't know much about). Brian Meyer welcomed and thanked guests, running us through how the morning would go, inviting guests to speak and pray. Fielding, a faith driven, deep and hard thinking, kind soul led us in prayer after sharing his thoughts on grief, faith, and speaking about Cody. He touched on his anger and how he didn't want to be there, a sentiment that we all shared. One that struck a lot of us, we don't necessarily hear that side at a memorial instead formally honoring the person who had died, but I think it was the most genuine and connectable thing that could have possibly been said. I felt like the entire community gathered, exhale grief together when he said that. As if it were permission to be angry without losing sight of the love and life of our friend. It was something that over the last weeks I have listened to people say, that he was honest and open and it was something we all felt. It didn't feel wrong to say, it felt, real. No one wanted to be there. We were sad and angry. But the way he brought his faith full circle in the opening of the ceremony was beautiful. As a Catholic, his words seemed to solve a puzzle my own faith and brain couldn't, one I needed serious reminding of. And in a very touching post, Fielding said, "Cody didn't need arms to touch you." and he couldn't have said it any better.
We heard touching words and stories about Cody from Brian, Charlie, Harvey, and Justin. The world was watching along via stream, and Meyer eloquently said to some effect though it isn't typical, we knew those who merely just saw Cody from afar would be impacted by our "Gentle Warrior"and would want to honor the life and inspiration Cody brought to their lives. The military presence was gut wrenching and soul quieting as the Honor Guard fired three volleys and TAPS was played to salute their brother in arms. As a former army medic, he saved lives and will continue to with the way he touched peoples' lives by being an example of not letting life stop when a challenge became too tough, his resilience and passion alone will save lives. For those of you who are unsure why there are three volleys fired at military funerals, it is a traditional action of battle ceasefires where each side would clear the dead. The firing of three volleys indicated the dead were cleared and properly cared for and now is a symbol in many military funerals to honor and properly send off a warrior. TAPS on the other hand was originally composed to signal "lights out" which eventually became staple at funeral services to honor the extinguishing of a life. It was truly incredible for me, it brought lots to mind and loved ones to mind who had gone before and those still serving. Then Bradley watched as the flag was folded crisply by the Honor Guard and was handed his dad's flag and words of gratitude are expressed privately. It was knee bucklingly beautiful.
From there, we headed to the water to do a water ceremony, where all those wanting to be on the water, formed a circle on their paddleboards. Everyone else stood on the dock as part of the circle. We handed out flowers and after some words were said, after Cody was released and prayers closed the beautiful water ceremony, we tossed them to the water. Brian asked that before we headed back on land that we celebrate Cody by taking a paddle and remember moments with him. It was at this point, I shut down. I paddled with the everyone through Spa Creek and after circling near St Mary's I broke off from the group and went to where Cody and I had the conversation just weeks earlier about my career. I just sat there. First just staring off, then replaying it as if it were happening all over again. I could feel you Cody, you were there. You are there every time I hit the water now. Each person handled this time differently, some people didn't want to be on the water, others went off in small groups sharing stories, others still like found some alone time to reflect. Lots of paddle hugs and conversations were shared.