I was devastated to hear that Royce Michelle Pryor passed away last night. I only knew Royce for a few months, but in that short time I was honored to get to know a strong, soft-spoken, generous, kind, determined, loving, honest, humble, genuine, authentic, powerful, beautiful person who experienced the most terrible loss--of her beautiful 20-year-old daughter Kaylyn Nicole--who was killed in a driveby shooting just 11 months ago. Royce fiercely kept Kaylyn's memory alive and spent the past months fighting valiantly to help end the gun violence that took her daughter's life while fighting her own health battles.
If you were at the rally Dear Evanston organized for Gun Violence Awareness Day at Fountain Square in May...you heard Royce speak. And she spoke most recently at the Fifth Ward Festival just two short months ago, where Kaylyn was honored with a dance choreographed by Melinda Segal and performed by her KCD Dancers for Nonviolence.
A while ago, I asked Royce if I could share some of her posts on Dear Evanston. Of course, she agreed. Often, she'd post photos of beautiful flowers with the simple message, "It's a beautiful day, and I love you all." Or she'd post about young people who are doing interesting things and say, "This young person is amazing and I LOVE IT!" Here are two posts (of many) she wrote about gun violence and the devastating effect it had on her and her family.
June 8 ..."I'm sitting here looking at the birds and squirrels this morning. They get along in harmony each has a role and they abide accordingly. Now I thought about whats going on with all the shootings and killings here in Chicago. It's like Chicago is being held hostage by what I will say is a handful compared to the 100s of thousands that live here.
No one talks when a crime is commited for fear. How do "THEY" have a whole city in fear??? I know about the street code of silence but when it has come into countless homes it leaves my at a loss of words. Everyday my news feeds are filled with new reports of violence and the same problem NOBODY talks, people say bring in the National Guards curfew, a city on lockdown, people say this is the norm now, is it really?? Kids can not go outside, people are afraid but still will not talk.
I feel its for 3 reasons, the 1st fear of retaliation, 2 it is their kids that are part of the violence, and 3 it has not affected them directly so the do not care.
Just my thoughts. Guess I will continue to watch the birds and squirrels...."
June 14 ..."My reality.....there is not a day that goes by not even an hour that my thoughts dont drift off to my beautiful Reindeer, my eyes that would not cry now fill with tears, my strong exterior is now weak. I walk in a tunnel where the light seems so close but yet so far. I think of what she would be doing now if her life had not been taken.
Some will say it gets better with time for me a part of time stopped when one half of my heartbeart was taken away. 20yrs and 9mths of love shattered in a matter of minutes and all I can do is look at pictures, videos and have thoughts of things long forgotten and what should still be. The human mind is amazing and the soul is my everlasting connection to my daughter Kaylyn. To be honest its a very thin line between sanity and insanity I guess Im on the borderline walking a tightrope trying to stay balanced...
My journey is long from over I can not bring my daughter back but I can and will continue to inspire and work in the fight against gun violence."
Royce died of kidney failure. She could just as well have died from a broken heart. Rest in Peace, beautiful Royce. My deepest condolences to the entire family.