Friday, June 21, 2013

Shenendehowa Graduation

I thought I would send out a quick note to let you all know the Shenendehowa graduation will be webcast, live, today from SPAC starting at 1:15pm.  

Here is the link:

We will be there crossing the stage to accept Christopher's diploma. We've been told it will happen in the early part of the ceremony after the valedictorian and salutatorian speeches before they start handing out diplomas by alphabet.  We don't have to wait for the "S's".

Please say a prayer and keep us in your thoughts.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Senior Prom

There's a big event coming up this weekend and my heart is heavy.  Senior prom...
I remember going to prom each year in high school.  It was so exciting to dress up, find the perfect gown and head out for a magical night.  It was Cinderella-ish. What annoying fun it was to pose for all the photos with parents calling out "look over here" or "just one more in case that one didn't come out".

Spending time figuring out how to wear our hair, what shoes would be comfortable to walk in, knowing a jacket was necessary but not wanting to wear one for fear of covering the beautiful dress. Yes, I remember.

I also recall the dapper guys! Stunning tuxedos (even if they did wear powder blue in 1981!) and spiffy shoes.  They all cleaned up so nice.  Proms were a lot of fun.

One of my favorite things to do was take in all the gorgeous gowns once we arrived.  The sea of colors and styles were just so beautiful.
This year I'll be participating in pre-prom photos but from a very different position.  My son won't be going.  Well... Not physically.  I do believe, however, that he wouldn't miss it.  He'll be there with his best pals and his best girl.  I'd bet anyone on it and I would win.  Chris will be there for all of it, for pictures, in the limo and at the venue.  This is a special night!
One of Christopher's best friends, Alan, has asked Bailey to the SHEN senior prom.  I couldn't be more proud.  My son would be so happy - he IS happy.  They will all be there together and that is just a wonderful feeling for me.  I'm glad to participate in pre-prom festivities and will fight thru my feelings of grief.  I wavered back and forth for a long time and was on the fence about showing up or running in the other direction.  I know I need to be where my son would want me and so I will be there.  The kids will get a kiss from me and a gigantic hug.  I'm so incredibly proud of them.  
I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around my loss.  These events are so jolting and surreal. They're like a frightening, repetitive wake up call.  We purposely bought Chris a tux last year because we knew he had four proms to attend between junior and senior year (Shaker and SHEN). Purchasing was less expensive than renting four times.  All we knew we needed to invest in was a new vest to go with each of Bailey's dresses.  We thought it was a good idea. We only got two uses out of the tux. Well, Chris did anyway.  
But guess what? Although Chris isn't going to the prom, his tuxedo is!  Alan and Chris (both linemen) have the same build.  We gave Alan the tuxedo with our heartfelt blessings in knowing how meaningful it would be to us for him to wear it on prom night.  He was so glad to receive it!  We couldn't be more proud of Alan, Bailey and all the students for pushing forward and enjoying this senior event even with the sadness of Chris and Deanna being gone. We want the kids to continue on. Our hearts would be broken worse if they skipped it!
To the SHEN Class of 2013 please enjoy your night with gladness.  Be safe in your choices and your driving and embrace the entire night.
And if you should see Alan tearing up the dance floor like nobody's business, it's a safe bet that Chris has something to do with it. That boy loved to dance!!

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Yes, it's me, sorry I haven't blogged in a while.  I was fortunate enough this past week to take an unexpected trip to California and accompany Bailey to the set of the television taping of "Splash."  

If you've never heard of it, this is its first season on American TV and it spotlights a cast of celebrities who learn how to dive (even off the four story,10 meter, platform) and they are judged on their performance and technique with one celebrity being eliminated each week.
Through the power of social media and persistence by a friend of the Wind family, we were offered entry tickets to the taping of the season finale.  This was very exciting to hear! It was unexpected but very welcomed news because, Olympic diver, Greg Louganis happens to be one of Bailey's idols and he also coaches the celebrity divers!  It seemed perfect news to hear because Bailey is struggling to get back on the board and we all know she has tremendous promise and talent to share with us. She needs that one karate chop to get her confidence back in gear.

Personally, I felt that if we could get Bailey in front of Greg he might be the inspiration needed to re-motivate her.  Little did I know about all the people we were going to meet.  I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful trip full of kind, caring individuals.  Let me share some of the incredible moments...
The day before the show was taped we were invited by Greg to spend the day at the practice pool with the celebrities as they each trained with a personal diving coach.  How would we have ever known that three past Olympic diving coaches were on sight all day! Bailey had the opportunity to talk with them, seek advice, learn some motivational visual techniques and assist them as they worked with the celebrities.  All three know Baileys future coach, Dave Parrington, in Tennessee. Seems the diving world is a small one at this elite stage.
Bailey also got to meet most all of the celebrities and they shared with her how they overcame their fears about getting on the diving boards and platforms to perform their dives. As most all of us can agree, there's no way we would ever consider diving from four stories up.  We would need to be pushed probably - if we even ever agreed to climb the stairs!!! These celebrities have never taken a real dive in their lives and really worked hard trying their best.  They practiced on trampolines and with harnesses around their waists to learn the skills.  All I did was sit by the poolside watching with Bailey's mom and her Aunt Donielle yet looking up at the 10 meter platform was beyond intimidating.  I had a pit in my stomach each time someone stood at the top and that was before they even dove or jumped!
I can say, whole heartedly, the day spent at the practice pool was among the most promising days I've experienced since Chris passed.  My personal goal for this trip was not in meeting celebrities, it was gleaning as much time and advice from those who could motivate Bailey to stay on course with her diving career and college plans at the U of TN.   That is something I, unfortunately, cannot help her with.  All I can do is remind her she CAN do it and Chris wants her to stay on track!!  I KNOW he wants to watch her from above as she excels and nails this sport.  For me, I take satisfaction in knowing I have done my best to do what I can for Bailey but the frustration comes in knowing I have to work within the boundaries of things I can control.  I cannot bring her boyfriend Chris back.  I cannot bring her best friend Deanna back.  I CAN reach out to anyone and everyone within my grasp to ask for help.  Together we are a powerhouse.  I know this because I have experienced it.  Every one of you has given me virtual hugs and words of wisdom to help me and I will do the same for Bailey and for others.

I know the power of prayer.  It works.  I've gotten through close to five months now because of the prayers and sense of community I have been blessed with.  I know working as a team and conquering fears is more powerful than ever trying to go it alone.  People want to help, there's satisfaction and good feeling in assisting others.  Plus there is that one other thing that I am reminded of daily; it's NOT my time to go, nor is it yours!  God doesn't want me or you yet and so we need to do our best with the hand we now hold.  There's room for improvement for all of us, even just the slightest touch.
In this instance, I can't say what will come of Bailey's future because that is up to her.  I know I will continue to pray with all my might that she follow the path she laid out for herself before this accident occurred. I don't want the accident to sideline her.  I want it to inspire her.  It has its place in her life and her world but it doesn't have to hold her back.  In fact I believe it will make her stronger. Her life story can either collapse or flourish.  I prefer flourishing!  Good needs to come of this tragedy and nothing would make me prouder than to watch her excel and overcome.  My son dated a winner.  
I know Christopher is right there agreeing with me, and probably yelling at her to get up and get on with things.  She has too much potential to cave in.  It would be a waste of diving talent but more so a waste of a love of life.  Bailey is full of goodness and it needs to be shared.  I pray it happens and I'm doing my part to push for it.

Look up some of these names if you want to see the incredible talent we were fortunate to spend the day with: Greg Louganis, David Boudia, Steve Foley, Wendy Lerew, Scott Reich ,Cassidy Krug, Nicole Eggert, Drake Bell, Rory Bushfield, Hank Baskett and Pat McAffee.
Who knew I would meet an Indianapolis Colt and a Philadelphia Eagle at a diving practice????  My son loved NFL football and the Eagles were his favorite team.  Nobody needs to tell me God works in mysterious ways! Hank and Pat were very important s parts of my trip and I will add they were two of the nicest people I had conversations with.  I know I'm blessed as I found inspiration on this trip too!  I was going for support purposes and reaped an unplanned reward myself.
May I also add that my desire for Bailey to get back into the swing of life is not solely aimed at her. It is directed at each one of us.  These sorts of tragedies can derail all of us in many ways, even those who didn't know the kids.  I beg each one of you to learn that good outweighs bad all the time. Grieve and be sad for any of your problems but know enough to realize you can't let it stall you.  
I'm thankful to be able to grab myself (when I'm low) and realize that Chris wouldn't want me to stay there.  What is the benefit?  There isn't one.  It becomes selfish when it goes beyond sadness to debilitating.  When life is so gloomy there seems no point.  I feel fortunate to say I don't feel like this, but I see some who do right now and it's frustrating.  I have the heaviest heart every single day and I miss my son so desperately. Some days it feels as though my heart is going to leap straight out of my chest, through my skin and bones, hit the ground and stop beating. It's not going to happen, that's irrational, but I do think it.  On the flip side though, I have also been blessed with two of God's greatest creations - my boys!  I held and nurtured one for seventeen years and he was a treasure.  I have memories galore and pictures to remind me and love in my heart that runs deep. (I think I'll keep my heart inside my chest cavity for now thanks).  My remaining son is still here before my eyes and I adore him.  God is granting me the opportunity to watch him flourish and grow and I am so thankful. I will continue to do for Jeremy all the things I can and I pray to sit at his college graduation next year as he crosses the stage in person for his diploma.  I pray to see him though medical school and move on to his professional career and enjoy a personal life that fulfills him and brings him tremendous joy.  I have much to look forward to, as do you!

Please make the most of your days, your experiences and your life.  It passes quickly. Make it count!

Let me take just a moment to thank my high school classmates and alumnae from The Academy of the Holy Names.  They sent me on this trip!!!  None of this past week’s events were gifted to us.  The offer of entry to the show was the only certainty (which was free to everyone fortunate enough to get in and we were guests of Greg Louganis).  My high school was behind me financially to make this happen.  I so appreciate the opportunity to escort Bailey and witness her conversations with the trainers and see her smile.  I was dragged to the Hollywood walk of fame and through the fancy homes in Beverly Hills just for fun. I couldn't have asked for a nicer few days away knowing my son was happy I accompanied her.  I could feel his presence daily and it made my heart happy.  I felt like I was doing something to help as Bailey navigates her new life.  My heartfelt thanks to all my AHN classmates for your generosity.  You did good ladies!!!

Here's hoping each of you has the insight to recognize you have two ways to go in the face of a problem; you can collapse and fall or you can dig deep, find strength and push forward. I pray you find strength.  You only need the tiniest tidbit to get started, those around you will pull you the rest of the way.  I've experienced it and I recommend it.  Please, please, please dig deep, don't give up!

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ups and Downs

Well, here we are, four months into Christopher's passing.  I still can't wrap my head around it.  Easter weekend was very hard for me.  I was at the threshold of a new form of loss in missing Chris. There was such emptiness in the air and too much quiet for me. It was so hard to be joyful on what is such an amazing religious event.  None of us seemed hungry or inspired so we watched The Bible series on TV as we picked at our food.
Easter proved to be much more difficult than Christmas.  I'm going to guess because Christmas came upon us fairly quickly and the house was hectic with activity still.  It was so early in his passing that there was never a quiet moment.  Plus I know my mind was elsewhere at that time.  I was worried about the students and players, Bailey and Matt.  I remember checking on them by call, text or tweet. I had them over to the house to talk and sit in Chris's room to help alleviate some of their angst and grief.  I felt I had myself in check at that time.  I was feeling strong. I suppose I hadn't accepted what was truly unfolding in my life.

I felt detached during Christmas.  Like there was a fog around me.  The day seemed slow and sluggish. I remember my brother in-law came up to visit, we opened presents and then we went to Baileys. It all seems so fuzzy to me, even now.  Easter appeared clearer but desperately sadder, the most inconsolable day for me so far.  My eyes streamed non-stop.  They never dried up no matter what kind of talk I gave myself to pull it together.  The fragility of my mind and body was beyond anything I have felt up until this point.  I really believed I was capable of breaking into pieces.  I felt so vulnerable that a wrong look from anyone would shatter me.  I even make some strange guttural noise once in a while.  I don’t know what it is, never heard it come from me before but I guess it's a parent’s wail of despair.  As much as it’s foreign to me, I suppose it's good in its own way because it means I'm recognizing my loss and grieving it.
I had gone to the Northway Church for Good Friday services and felt I did a pretty good job of holding myself together.  I was engaged in the evening and enjoyed the music and Pastor Buddy's sermon. The crowd was enthusiastic and there was a wonderful energy in the room.  By Saturday I was getting mildly grumpy and reclusive.  On Easter Sunday I knew I needed to do something so I decided to try 10am mass at St. Francis of Assisi (the old St. James on Delaware Ave. in Albany).  I should have known better than to stay seated once I felt a wave of panic as I sat in the pew.  I had already been sobbing from the time I got up but I continuously talked to myself and tried deep breathing to relax.  I use that technique on myself many time to calm down and it typically works great.  During mass it was not helping.  I felt like I would either burst like a volcano with my insides spewing out my head or I was going to run frantically past the poor old woman who had me blocked in my row.  I didn't know what to do.  Of course neither of these happened but I felt like I came damn close to losing it.  I held off the outburst but I couldn't control the tears. They streamed at their own pace and so I just let myself cry.  I suppose the congregation wouldn't care too much if they saw me sobbing, I didn't try to hide it, it was quite apparent I didn't have myself together.  I was just praying that guttural sound stayed away.  

It didn't help mea any that the pew in from of me had two of the most adorable little girls ever.  They were in their colorful dresses and white patent leather shoes.  The little one was barely walking and held her baggie full of pretzels to keep her busy during the mass.  My mind wandered the entire hour as I looked at the girls and remembered when we would suit up the boys and do the very same thing. I wanted so much to lean forward and tell those parents to snuggle their girls tight and never let them go.  I wished so hard to go back in time although I knew full well it wasn't going to happen.
I apologized repeatedly to Chris throughout Easter day.  I kept thinking he was mad at me for not filling his basket and hiding it.  It broke me in two seeing it sit there in his room with nothing in it but the purple straw.  I put it away early Monday morning.  I couldn't take it anymore. I faced the day and got through it but couldn’t prolong living with it.  I pray next year won't be as cutting as this one was.

I do hope that by reading this you are able to take something from it other than feeling bad for me. By that, I mean, I hope there's some sort of information you glean so that maybe you can help someone else in the future?  Maybe by my sharing you will better understand what happens in the mind of a grieving parent so that you are better equipped to help another should you encounter something like this in your own life.

I think it's important to articulate as best as I can what filters through my mind on any given day.   I can't say that what I experience is normal grief or that anyone else feels even remotely like I do.  I'm just sharing me.  I'm sharing my love of my son and the anguish that goes along with the loss of him. If I didn't love him so deeply and completely I imagine my grief wouldn't cause such suffering each day.
I know wholeheartedly that God is good. I also know my son doesn't hurt.  He is the happiest he has ever been and he is wrapped in love in heaven.  I have no doubts about any of this and I take tremendous comfort in it.  I also know I cry and I ache because I miss him so much and I was not ready to part with him.  My schedule was not the same as God's.  I selfishly want him here with me - with us.  It will take more time, much more than a mere four months for me to understand.  In the meantime, I will share with you how I feel and what is happening.
For now, I am focusing on renovating the memorial garden, I'm preparing my mind and heart for the May senior awards night and the June graduation.  As much as I want to run away and cry a million tears rather than stand on the stage and hand out a scholarship in my son’s name, I will do it proudly because Christopher deserves a voice and he was well loved.  There isn't anything I wouldn't do for either of my boys.  They are both incredible and I am blessed.

Thank you for reading.