Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bob and Andy

One of the things that makes me saddest these days is knowing I won't be preparing Chris for college.  No dorm room shopping, no fussing about the cost of books, no upgrading his laptop and no discussions on how to do laundry.  
I had the pleasure of that with Jeremy and I love every minute of it.  I'm glad we're not done yet.  I remember having discussions with several people about the cost of sending a child to college.  Of course it's insanely expensive. Jeremy opted for a very pricey institute but Mike and I were (and are) determined to provide him with his desires to the best of our ability.  We would have done the same for Chris, financially painful but worth it for having them here.  I wish for it now more than ever.  So, during these discussions -when mention of the cost of college came up I always said the same thing... Here's my thoughts:
When I knew I wanted to have a family I went into it with the frame of mind that the child would be healthy and smart and grow up to contribute to the world. The child would go to school, learn some skills, get a job, possibly marry and maybe start a family.  Why wouldn't I think he would be anything other than perfect? Nobody goes into pregnancy intending on a child with disabilities or learning difficulties.  So now that my boys are old enough for college it's no surprise to me to pay for college. It's what I planned for all along.  It's costly and we make huge sacrifices and take out loans and juggle funds to pay the semesters tuition but in my opinion it's what I agreed to in my own mind when I brought them into the world. Yes, I may be a little nuts but I think paying for college is good debt.  I'm thrilled Jeremy's in the midst of it and I looked forward to the challenge of seeing Chris thru it too. I can juggle and get creative with the dollars.
So this brings me to Bob and Andy.  You may have read Christopher's obituary where we asked for donations to go to St. Coleman's for the Autistic program Christopher's cousin Andy is in. It's a wonderful place where he takes the school bus and goes to school.  Andy is slightly younger than Chris and Bob, Andy's older brother, a tad older than Jeremy.  Our four boys grew up together. We spent a lot of time together on vacations, at holidays and playing sports.  Andy doesn't speak with words yet he makes himself clear with actions. He enjoys playing with little rubber balls like you'd find in a grocery store vending machine and he carries as many as he can hold.  He doesn't like to share his handful of toys much. Chris and Jeremy would try to get them from him by trying to avert his attention or sneaking their hands in for the steal. Andy's hand was always like a vice and he'd be quick as could be to stop them.  Bob would laugh each time they'd try.   
Rather than give you the details of Andy and Bob I thought I'd share with you Christopher's college application essay.  This essay was read by his high school guidance counselor , Mrs. Jan Reilly, at his funeral.  I'd like to thank Jan as I know it was tough for her.  I hope you enjoy it and I hope it helps you better get to know Chris.

Thank you for reading.

Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

I would say there are many people that have influenced me in my life so far. One of the most influential people was my cousin Bob Stewart. Bob would have just celebrated his twenty- first birthday in September but he unfortunately passed away suddenly in August 2010 from a heart condition. Bob was born with a heart valve problem. He took daily medication. I never knew that until a few years ago. It wasn’t apparent in his abilities and nobody ever said anything about it when we were kids. His classmates were stunned when they heard the news that he passed away because they all knew him as a typical kid with many friends.
The reason Bob has influenced me in a good way is because he never brought it to my attention that he suffered a health problem. Bob was the same as me or my brother Jeremy. We were all treated the same by our family too. Bob never asked for special treatment and he was private about taking his medicines so we wouldn’t ask questions. He never talked about it and we never noticed.
I spent a lot of time with Bob when we were young. We were fortunate to have grandparents with a camp where we could have sleepovers in the summer. Bob, Jeremy and I would go fishing, drive golf balls, go out for burgers and ice cream, go bowling, catch turtles and frogs, swim, watch videos and play with our Pokémon cards together. Although I was the youngest, they always included me.
Bob couldn’t do much running around so he golfed and bowled, therefore we did too. We would swim and he would use the row boat or a float when he got tired. He still stayed out in the water with us. He graduated high school with his varsity letters in golf and bowling and was planning to join the golf team at Siena College but he died a couple weeks before his freshman year began.
I admired Bob’s focus on life, not his disability. Since he couldn’t run he found a couple of sports that were less strenuous. He was a good student, a great cousin and an unbelievable brother to his younger brother Andy who has autism. Bob always made time for Andy, either to play with him or help him.
I hope to always focus on the positive things in life like Bob did. I’d like to think that when I come upon an obstacle I will find a way around it like Bob did. He was a great cousin and I miss him.

Christopher F. Stewart


  1. Hi Regina,
    I have not made a comment on your blog yet, but I read your posts every day. Truth is...I fear my words won't be delicate enough for this situation. What do I know about losing a son? It would be safer to just return to my happy bubble where for this moment my family is safe, pretend these things don't happen, but I can't. I am drawn to your blog, drawn to pray for you and drawn to know Christopher. Thank you for sharing something so intimate. I am reading and it is changing my heart.

    1. Rachel just said my exact feelings. The happy bubble, my safe life. I read you blogs every day, sometimes I can't get through them without crying because I know how similar are lives our. My son went to LSI with Jeremy. I wish there was a button that said read this, love you, here is hug, stay strong, we support you. You are a strong woman and so many of us are thinking of you daily!

  2. Regina,
    I, like the Rachael above, am moved by your words. Thank you for writing and sharing something so close to you. As a mom, I admire your bravery, strength and grace in which you display. God bless you and your family. I will continue to read .


  3. Hi Regina,

    Your blog is wonderful. God has given you a lot of strength during a rough time! People comment that they could never handle a tragedy like this if it was given to them. What choice does one have? The choice you are making in handling it is truly amazing. God and Chris are by your side helping you. Along with helping yourself, you are helping so many others. Always remember it is not about the tragedy that one should focus on, it is about your beautiful Chris and the 17+ years that he lived. Thank you for showing us what an amazing boy he truly was. Keep up this blog if you can it helps us all of us learn about your son and helps us in our daily lives.

  4. Regina,
    You should be so proud of the boy/man you raised. What a wonderful soul you have introduced us to. Your writing is opening up so much within so many. You truly are the example of faith, love , courage, and grace. Always in our prayers! May God and Chris continue to keep you and yours close. I am sure Chris and Bob are enjoyed each others company!

  5. You truly have the most caring & loving family. I grew up with so many cousins and siblings and loved every minute of it. Now Chris & Bob can bowl or golf together all they want they have each other. I enjoy your blog I may not comment but I do read it everyday. My daughter will be going to college in 2 years and all I can think about is how will I be able to pay for it, I did not get to go to college I was a junior in high school when I had her I would not change that up for anything in this world. My mom brought me up in such a good way I was determined to care for my daughter my self with no one's help. Rather than doing all the things in my senior year of high school I would work and take care of my daughter. I can only hope to be as good of a mom as you are to your sons.

  6. Regina,
    My dear friend. You do not know me but have met my daughter (at the wake). Yesterday morning we arose at 3:30AM for a track meet in the city and (as I always do now), first checked for your daily entry. My first thought when there was no entry was that you did not have the energy today. And while that would have been perfectly fine, I sent a silent prayer your way anyway. My husband and I have a daily ritual of reading your blog, discussing our blessings, and marveling at your strength. We know that these lives lost were in some way all of our children. Though the pain is yours, we hope that our full hearts and daily prayers (and many more prayers and tears on Christmas day for your family)and the sharing of our human hearts are surrounding you with loving energy. On the way home from the track meet I checked the blog again while in the back seat of the car and read the blog on FB in the dark. Thank you! Yesterday and today you speak openly of your commitment to your children's education and the sacrifice and stress that accompanies that... and the blessings in that as well. I agree! The best ROI we could hope for is to invest in our children. I am now faced with two in college next year, and not yet sure how to make that work financially and worry about this daily. Today I will embrace this uncertainty in honor of you and the blessing of having such worries. They are good worries. You are amazing, insightful, and so strong. Thank you for writing. When you are feeling the need to surround yourself with more warmth, go back and read those FB comments to your blog as well. We are all living in connection and love for you and your family. God Bless!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing Chris's application letter! I go to the same church as Gary, Linda and Andy. I don't know them well bc they usually go the earlier service, but I remember when Bob passed. The congregation was stunned, and I did a duet with my choir director in his honor. How strange and ironic to learn of the connection between these two families and the loss of these two young men. But this letter says it all. They were obviously both lovely and promising boys. I know it is no consolation to lose your child and realize that he won't "grow up to contribute to the world" but I can at least say that his growing legacy is most definitely contributing to the betterment of our community. I feel it every day when I read your blog, see the posts on FB and go out and connect with other people in public.

  8. Despite your heartbreak, I am enjoying the trajectory of your blog -- that you seem utterly committed to finding topics, even in the early stages of your grief, for which you can shine such an amazing spotlight on your little boy. Last night we got together with a group of friends in Malta -- we have all been friends since college and graduate school and spent countless hours together when our kids were young before the clamor of school and sports and other activities sent us in different directions. We spoke about your unspeakable tragedy and the good that will come from it. And then we raised a glass to you for keeping Chris' memory alive...and for the journey that comes next.

  9. I feel the sane way you do about bringing our children into this world and paying for their college education
    We have 4 kids 3who r in college and one who will be 13 on Chris b'day
    He had a friend die when he was 9 his friend had a saying and o hope it will help you.focus on the matter how hard things get we try and live by that motto just to get through the day.god bless you for sharing your son with us.

  10. Good Morning Regina,
    Like so many others I too get a cup of coffee, take a deep breath and then settle down to read your blog. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes but also a smile or two. I'm hoping that in some cosmic way you can feel the support, prayers and strength complete strangers are sending your way by being there with you through our morning coffee and your thoughts and reflections. You're a strong woman. :) Peace.

  11. Regina

    I have two boys and as I read your blogs daily I notice god has given you the strength to be strong for your family. Usually when someone has lost a loved one they don't know how to deal and rather hide and not be seen. They don't know how to face the world. I admire your strength.
    This is the first time that a tragedy like this has hit me hard because like you my boys are into sports but my youngest loves the game of football and I am a football mom and my son is very well known. Yet he may be a goof ball at times he knows how to make people laugh. This blog touched me because I have a nephew who has autism but has terruts too. My boys when they see their cousin looks pass that and include him in everything. The boy is smart as smart can be. When younger he use to smack himself in the head to the point he damaged his hearing in one ear so he has to wear a hearing aide. I have taught my boys you don't judge a book by its cover just look at the beauty within.
    I just want to say thank you for these blogs. This whole thing has put life into perspective for a lot of people. Thank you!

  12. Hi, Regina. Your blog was brought to my attention by my sister-in-law, Jill Serina and I am so glad she shared it with me. Of course there is no way I can even begin to comprehend the pain of such a loss, I appreciate the courage you have shown with those of us who choose to walk through this journey with you.

    In an earlier post, you mentioned listening to Pastor Joel Osteen and how it has helped you through your grieving process. As it happens, I sing on the worship team at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church and wanted to let you know that I have brought you and the other families involved to the attention of our church leadership and that we will all be praying for you and standing in the gap for you in prayer during this time. May the loving arms of God surround you and comfort you with His love and keep your eyes and ears tuned in to the signs He is lovingly sending to you to let you know that even though it doesn't feel like it, all is well. You are covered in prayer and the love of so many!

    Please feel free to visit my blog at
    or send me an email with your contact info to

    Blessings and love,
    Catherine Kingsbury

  13. Regina~
    Thank you for sharing! I truly LOVE your blog. I look forward to reading it everyday.
    Your courage and srength are inspiring. Much love and blessings..

  14. The first comment on this blog by Rachael was perfect. Her "Truth Is..." is how I feel every time I read your blog and it's changing my heart too.

  15. A beautiful tribute to his cousin, Bob. I am sorry tragedy has struck your family twice, taking two beautiful souls. I'm sure Chris and Bob have been reunited and are enjoying each other's company once again. Thank you for sharing Chris' essay. Each day I look forward to reading your blog and I hope you will continue to hare yourself with us.

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    any person that is looking for loan to him,
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    was in need of a loan of $250,000.00 to
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    mother with 3 kids I met this honest and GOD
    fearing man loan lender that help me with a
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    you will pay back the loan please contact
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    refer you to him. contact Mr.James Bone
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