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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — The holidays are a time for family. A time to be thankful for what you have, and grateful for the little things.

“From the time he was little, we had a tradition of Black Friday shopping,” said Lea Ann Lyster. “I always had to buy a special spiral ham to make for him because he did not care for the turkey, because he loved ham.”

But these holiday traditions ring hollow for the Lyster family this year, with an empty seat at their Thanksgiving table.

“Today would have been the day that we would have been putting up the tree,” Lyster said. “And we always waited because he was so into Christmas.”

Back in April, Cody Lyster’s heart stopped in an Aurora ICU after battling COVID-19. At the time, he was the youngest confirmed death in Colorado from the virus. 

For his parents Lea Ann and Kevin, they’ve missed the little moments in the eight months since his passing.

“I should be getting a text from him about Drew Lock did this, or the Rockies are gonna get rid of Nolan Arenado, what are they thinking?” Kevin said.

Cody was an athlete, and a baseball player at Colorado Mesa University. It’s given his whole family a unique perspective on how random and deadly the virus can be.

“You can not be sure, just because I’m young, just because I’m healthy, and he was healthy,” Lyster said. “He was a baseball player. You never know if you’re going to be the person that doesn’t survive this.”

Like many Colorado families, the Lysters are making their Thanksgiving circle smaller to help stop the spread of COVID-19. They hope Cody’s story will help people understand what it means to spend the holidays without the people you love.

“If you’re having a smaller get together this year, that may mean that everybody can get together for the following years,” Lea Ann Lyster said.

“We will live without our son for the rest of our lives,” Kevin Lyster said. “We won’t be able to have that traditional Thanksgiving, that traditional Christmas, birthdays.”