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Bryce Savoy poses with his arm around his father.

A Father's Day
with Big Bryce Son

Bryce Savoy

My Pops is one of the most influential — if not the most influential — figures in my life.

 

And this Father’s Day is going to be different.

 

Here’s why: My Pops passed away suddenly on New Year’s Day. January 1 is supposed to mark a new beginning, a new chapter. It’s usually full of hope and recentering your mission and purpose. But for me, it ushered in a chapter of despair, grief and hopelessness that I couldn’t have prepared for.

 

I’m named after my Pops. He’s Big Bryce. I look just like him and he’s my best friend. My world was shattered when I heard he was gone. The day my Pops passed, for the very first time, I questioned the meaning of life. As someone who has always maintained a positive outlook, the weight I felt at that moment was something I never experienced before.

 

Big Bryce was my greatest example of how to positively impact your community. He was the ultimate Neighborhood Diamond. He used his expertise in food to encourage our people to live in health and wellness and guide major corporations in how to reach underprivileged communities. One of my favorite memories with my dad is from a couple of years ago when he taught me how to make salmon on the grill. Growing up, I never lived in the same house as my Pops, so I missed out on some of the day-to-day lessons that people get from their fathers. As a kid, I always longed for those moments and this was one of those special times that he taught me something really practical. I’ll always remember it and am looking forward to passing it on.

He was also my biggest fan. What connects me to him most is the music. If I had it my way, I would lock myself in the studio and never come out again so I wouldn’t have to confront the reality that he’s gone. He was not a “yes man.” I appreciated his honest thoughts because it meant he wanted me to be my best. While I always made music for myself, I knew whenever he felt strongly about something I was working on, it was special. I valued and trusted his opinion because I knew it would always be unbiased. I’m so thankful he always challenged me to dig deeper. His insight never steered me wrong.

A father holds a young son at his waist.

After his passing, I channeled my emotions into “BIG BRYCE SON,” the first music that I made in my home studio that my lady set up for me. Recording the EP was a sacred time where I could sit in my own space and process everything that can’t be put into words. 

 

“Hard to accept you’re really gone/I can’t believe it, Pops/I keep trying to call your phone, I guess I’m still in shock/Spent four days in the ICU/I never thought that’d be the last time that I see you/Got some questions that I know I won’t get answers to/I just leave ‘em up to God/Don’t know what else to do” 

 

That’s some of what I wrote on the title track because that’s really how I feel. I’ve been trying to keep the faith and trust in the bigger purpose. But it’s hard and it sucks. I dedicated this project to not only my Pops, but to everyone out there who was impacted by his death. I hope this music serves as a soundtrack and a reminder of the blueprint he left behind for us all to follow. It still doesn’t feel real…

 

This Father’s Day will also be different because I found out I’m going to be a father myself. When I got the news, obviously I had the high of excitement, but I also felt the depths of fear and despair. I never thought I’d bring a kid into the world without my parents by my side. I was really scared that I wasn’t going to know what to do. But as I processed it, I got to the point where I realized what a solid foundation my Pops built and left for me. In a way, it’s a full-circle moment of death and life. I lost my Pops at the start of the year and I’m going to become a father at the end of it. I feel like he gave me this gift to let me know I’m carrying on his legacy. I’m gonna be the best father because I had the best example!

I write this as someone who is holding space for ALL of my emotions, not just the ones that are viewed as “good.” We can’t possibly understand what it means to live unless we also understand what it means to die. It’s moments like this that make Neighborhood Diamonds.

 

My hope is that sharing my personal journey helps break the stigma of sharing grief openly. The reality is that we’re all suffering, yet nobody wants to talk about it (for obvious reasons).

 

That is my story. 

 

Below are some stories of others who have helped carry my burden as they continue to process the loss of their own fathers. I really commend these men for being vulnerable enough to join me in sharing our emotions. While we may all process loss differently, the feelings are the same. I really hope this helps someone as much as it’s helping me. We are not alone. Our fathers might not be walking with us here on earth, but we will uphold their legacies and keep shining while there’s air in our lungs.

 

That’s how I’m built ‘cause I’m Big Bryce Son.

A father and son pose holding up peace signs.

I think this entire journey of losing my Pops has been earth-shattering, mind-blowing and surreal even three years later. I still can't believe this shit. Every day is a new opportunity for a different perspective. A different mindset. The journey is day by day but the craziest part about my Pops’ death was I looked at it almost like a right of passage. My Pops transcended for me to step into manhood with no safety nets. What keeps me going? His legacy. I hold the legacy of my Pops and who he was by my actions, how I carry out life and the value I bring to others, how I honor God and serve using the blessings He’s given me.

 

— Matt

 

I really miss the late night talks I would have with my Dad. I would come by to drop off something or pick up some food or snacks from my mom, give them hugs and say I loved them, and as I would turn to leave, either he or I would ask one last question. And that would turn to a one to two hour convo about everything under the sun. Politics, sports, movies, the babies, you name it. And almost always, he would repeat a story about his childhood (like how he wanted to be a QB in high school because he was really good and the white coaches wouldn’t let him). I’d never cut him off and say I heard that one before hahaha. I really miss those simple moments like that. I took them for granted, but I’m grateful to have had them.

 

— Clif Soulo

 

Since losing my Pops, I’ve found solace in knowing he prepared me for life beyond him. Grief has been consistently inconsistent, and that concept is something that I learned from my Dad long ago. There are good days and bad days. Embracing every emotion knowing they may lead you to a place you’re unfamiliar with can be terrifying. But I was raised to prepare for the unexpected, to never get too high or too low. The times I wish I was coddled, I am now grateful I was forced to stand on business.

 

— Justin

 

My father passing away has been one of the toughest things I have ever experienced. The person who is supposed to pass on all the wisdom and help guide through life isn’t here anymore, but the thing that helped me through it is for sure God. Praying to Him and casting all my worries on Him has made it a little easier. Also for me, I have to cling to the positive memories I do have and remember all the things my dad did tell me, and that shows me he is still here and is still teaching me. It was like a final project when I had to speak at his funeral. I felt like I finally became a man because I had to reiterate everything he stood for in his life in front of everyone. Especially now that I have a kid of my own, I have to do everything to keep his memory alive to show he was a great man so my daughter won’t forget who was a part of making me.

 

— Q

 

I can say it took me a while to fully process that my Pops was gone. A week after he passed, I had to leave and head overseas. I honestly didn’t wanna leave, but my mom and sisters told me to go because they knew it would be what my Pops wanted, so I had to somewhat process all my emotions away from home. Thank God during my time away I had family and close loved ones in the country I was in to help me through some of the grief. But at the same time, I didn’t feel my pain and emotions. I honestly couldn’t put it into words.

 

— Tonio

 

I’ve struggled every day since my dad passed to maintain mental/emotional clarity. There’ve been a lot of real dark times and, in the initial following months of his passing, I can’t even remember my day-to-day. But all I can think of right now is that you gotta try to find peace within the situation and think about how he would want to see you overcome the heartbreak to become the best version of yourself. Be patient, don’t force anything — including the healing process. Being the best man you can be and positively impacting others is a great way to honor your dad. I’m sure that’s what most fathers want for their sons in general, and when that happens they can be proud they raised a good man.

 

— Chris

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