Taking Tragedy and Building a Legacy – Paul and Stacy Cannariato
*This episode talks about infant loss, so please be aware of the sensitive nature of the conversation if you would prefer to not be triggered by anything discussed!
Vincent Paul Cannariato was born on November 13th, 2004. Paul remembers that he came into the world with an awareness about him. He wanted to know and be a part of everything surrounding him. Stacy remembers their family holidays together with her little boy.
On February 2nd, 2005, Paul go the call that no parent should receive. The police told him to get to Children’s Hospital as his son was very sick. Paul says that he knew he was gone although the police would not tell him over the phone. He called Stacy and they both sped to Children’s Hospital to find out that their son went down for a nap at his in home daycare and when the provider went to check on him, he was not breathing. On Paul’s drive to the hospital he was given in that moment the mantra that they would be positive and honor their son’s life. And that they did.
They tried different forms of therapy and counseling, but decided it was best to blaze their own path. They were going to be positive and do it together, though the odds were stacked against them. With help from Paul’s brother and sister-in-law they learned that having someone there to just be there. There were no right words, but just someone to give space and allow everything to come as it needed to. This was a huge moment in their lives that they chose to give to others down the road. Holding space, sending a text, just checking in on someone. These are all gifts they can now give to others because it was given to them.
They found peace in knowing that Vince did not suffer. Having both lost a parent of their own and watching them suffer, they have great comfort knowing that he lived a very full life in those 12 weeks and went to sleep peacefully. Stacy recalls feeling like she had some part in his death. That she could have done something to prevent this, but she had received a phone call from the coroner that was a gift from God. The coroner said that she found absolutely nothing wrong with Vincent and she could tell that he was very well taken care of. That phone call changed the trajectory of her life.
They reminisce on the memorial where hundreds of people came because Vince’s life touched so many and that the simplest of gestures like a kiss on the cheek or holding someone’s hand can mean the world to someone else. They tell stories of their grief and how rather than closing off to it, they let it flow through them. They breathe and let it happen. Nobody’s grief is wrong because everybody’s grief is different. But they know that choosing to work through it and be positive has changed their lives completely.
After his passing, they decided to open up Colonel Pops Popcorn! They poured all their energy into their own small business so they could have a place to honor and talk about their son. The store was like Cheers! Paul knew everybody’s name. Stacy notes how they were both cracked open with the loss of their son, but Paul remade himself into a new version of himself. He held space for others and opened up to them. Paul tells a story about a guy who would come into the store and chat with him. He never bought anything, but just came and Paul gave him his energy and time. Years later he received a letter in the mail. It was a remembrance card for the “guy” from the store along with a note from his mother. She wrote, “You may not have known my son’s name, but he thought of you as someone very important in his life and he loved coming to the store to spend time with you!” That is a moment that Paul will never forget. He impacted someone’s life without every really knowing it. And that is a gift from the loss of his son.
We all have choices in life, and some choices may not be the right ones, but everybody should remember that we can impact other’s with the simplest of gestures.
Paul & Stacy were blessed with two beautiful daughters, Micah and Gianna and they know that their lives are in part because of their older brother Vincent.