Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Do you KNOW that you're special?

When I was seven my father died.  He unfortunately had health issues and died of emphysema.  He was 47.  I remember very little about the services but I do remember sitting in one of the front rows at the wake and having some unknown woman pat me on the head as she sobbed and walked away.  I don't remember who she was.  A relative of some sort I imagine.

Funny what fleeting moments are the ones that become memories. Why don't I remember more? I'm certain there were other, more dramatic events that week.  

I find it interesting, also, what the difference is between being seven in 1973 and being seven in 2012. Some of the children in Newtown were only seven... But I believe they had more say in their parent’s lives than I did when I was their age.  Being seven today is like being fourteen or fifteen back in the 70's.  We were told what was for dinner, where we were going, when it was bedtime and what was happening in the course of a day or a week.  Seven year olds today are included in decision making. In fact many probably run the house!  But I'm going off on a tangent here.

I want to know if when you close your eyes and have a quiet minute about yourself to reflect  - do you KNOW you are special?  Can you say yes to that question? I pray you say yes.  I know I am special.  I've known it for years.  Why would God place me as the final child in a household of eleven? Why would he make me feel in my heart that I had value and a purpose to be here?  Why would he loan to me the two best boys I could ever hope to give birth to? Why is it that I'm the one right here, right now writing this blog?  I've never even read a blog or followed a blog.  Matter of fact this blog was set up for me by a friend so all I have to do is type.  I do believe that I am special.  

I've actually had this conversation with several people.  My friend Gene and I talked about this years ago.  He also knows he's special.  He feels it in his core.  Right in his heart.  I hope you do too.

That lady that patted me on the head made me feel special.  I'm not sure why.  She showed me emotions I was not used to seeing in an adult.  I was used to not being included in things.  Remember it was 1973.  I didn't quite understand why she was patting me but an inner voice recognized that something different was taking place that night.  It was.  Life was very different after that day but I'd like to think that's when I was given incredible strength.

Do you know how special you are? Do you know the impact you have on the people around you? Do you realize that what you do or say can help or hurt?  I have not always been cognizant but these past couple of weeks has shaken me deeply in many ways.  I have never hurt so much in my life.  I truly have a broken heart.  My chest physically aches and feels bruised to the touch.  I keep rubbing it to soothe it but it doesn't go away.  I have also never witnessed firsthand the kindness and generosity of people around me.  I never thought myself rude but I now know I have a lot of room for improvement! The caring words, handmade gifts, meals, hugs and tears shared are above and beyond what I could imagine.  I can do better and I will do better going forward.  I am special and I will remember that all the more now.  You need to do the same.


  1. I remember 5 years ago when my husband died telling people that heartache is a real tangible thing....your heart actually does hurt. Some looked at me as if I was crazy, others understood. I truly wish you did not know this feeling...I cannot imagine the heartache you are feeling. The unimaginable has happened in your life and my heart truly aches now for you. You are a wise woman, a strong woman...speaking of your wonderful son keeps him with you always. Keep writing, keep talking. I think of you every day and admire your courage. Stay strong, feel all of the feelings, travel your road through grief...a difficult and sad road but one that must be traveled. Kathi

  2. Thank you so much, Mrs. Stewart, for once again saying exactly what I need to hear. You are not only healing yourself with that, you are healing me too. You completely rock. Write this blog. Write that book. You are right. YOU ARE SPECIAL. And, you've just made ME feel special too. Thank you for that.
    I just wish I knew you aside from the pictures in the news and this blog.
    Love always, Hannah

  3. Regina, What a beautiful picture of you and your dad. I actually remember your dad as i grew up in the "St. James" neighborhood and was friends with Eddie and John. I came to know the rest of the Yakel family much later in life when I became good friends with Lisa (your sister-in- law) and I am Jessica's godmother. Losing your dad at such an early age was definitely where you got your strength. I watched your mom raise 11 kids by herself with an ever present smile on her face as she was off to play the organ for a mass at church. She set the tone for your unbreakable faith that has allowed Chris to come to you so often. i believe this tragedy hit so close to home for me not just because of my personal connection to your family but to my own. I have a daughter (Rachael) who is a freshman in college and she too is our "guinea pig" as you referred to Jeremy in one of your blogs. I cried reading your account of bringing Jeremy to college for the first time as we lived that this past fall. My son , Jason is 16 and a Junior at CBA. he is on the football team and remembers Chris from when they played Shen and as we watched the candlelight vigil he cried along with my husband and I, for a boy who is much like him. The day you wrote about knowing Chris' hands was the first day we allowed Jason to drive to school alone as he just got his license. Before he left I held his hands ( and yes I know them well...those calluses from weightlifting for football are a sure giveaway)and told him to be careful and that I loved him as I always do. After he left I prayed and cried probably till he texted me that he was at school. I often comment to my friend at work ( we are teachers) that I believe you are such an amazing woman and that I do not think I would be able to breathe but then I remember that you have Chris and your dad's strength holding you up and allowing you in your unbearable grief help the rest of us with this unguided parenting job we have been blessed with. Your faith and devotion allow Chris to come to you and for that I thank God. I just wanted you to know that someone from your past, another mom, is with you daily, reading, crying and praying with you and for you. I hope you never stop because I will never leave. Big Hugs ( I am Italian, you know how we are about hugs and kisses!)
    Diane (Nati) Micelli

  4. As a mom to 3 girls your story has just gripped my heart. I always thought I made the most out if the time I have with my girls making sure I am there for every game, concert or special event. But your blog about Chris' hands just changed me. I can't really fully describe it but wow that was so powerful to me. My 12 yr old reads your blog as well. She for the first time in her life sees how fast life can change. After reading that post she reached out her hand to me. She is a softball pitcher her hands have all the signs of sports on them. That moment was incredible and it was all bc of you. I want to thank you for that. I now everyday get to know my whole families hands, each of my girls and my husband. Every time I do my mind goes straight to you and it brings me to tears. Even though I do not know you or your family I want you to know you have changed me for the better as a mom and person through your blog. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are very special.

  5. Your words are the new start of my day. I wake up, wrap myself up in my Moms warm Lands End robe (she passed away suddenly eleven months ago and I've worn it everyday since), grab a warm cup of coffee, and begin reading your warm words. Each day, your words help me to be more mindful of things that I may not have thought much of. I thank you for that. There will be good things in my day today and there will also be difficult challenges in my day today (I am the mother of a child with "special needs")...but today...I feel that God has make me special and I can face the good and the difficult with a grateful heart. God Bless you and yours.

  6. My day begins with your blog. You are a truly inspiring woman.

  7. Keep writing Regina! I am enojoying your blog. As a Mom of two I can imagine the pain that you are feeling. We are all feeling it with you. Keep inspiring and your heart will heal a little more each day. Sending you a "virtual hug". Love, Katie (Brunswick, NY)

  8. My day begins with your blog you are a strong woman keep writing . reading your blogs got me to start my own on my family and my brother that passed 10 years ago in a crash ty

  9. I have read your blog every day. When I read the part about knowing my childrens hands, I thought about each ad evey one of them. I wasn't sure if I would be able to tell the difference between them. I then asked my son if i could hold his hands. He gave me a strange look, but said yes. I closed my eyes, held his hands. I studied them and put it in my memory. I did the same wth my husband that day, I just felt I needed to. My huband and my son are both fire fighters. My son has only been one for about 8 months. That same day they responded to a fire call. My son had a very close call. I first thought of his hands. then I thanked god he was ok. Then I thanked yu for sharng you thoughts and wisdom, because I knew his hands. Thank you. Please don't stop writing. I think of you everyday. Bless you. You are amazing. I am so sorry for your loss.

  10. It is interesting that you pose this question. Do you KNOW you are special. For years and years, I did not know I was special. I learned by reflection; support groups and church to believe it. I also came across an amazing book (The Purpose Driven Life) that allowed me to heal from the past and learn that I was in fact special. I revert back to self loathing at times, but I keep hearing from those lives I have touched, that I am in fact special. It's hard to believe, because I am just me, doing what I do, but apparently others think I'm special.

    Your words touched my heart today, because I am special (1) BECAUSE for me, like you, God entrusted me with an amazing son and an amazing daughter, and for that, I am most grateful and special and (2) God put me in the right places at the right times and allowed me to be open to change, through the good experiences as well as the bad.

    I have learned to not question (not for too long on the hardest things) but sometimes I still do, like the CT tragedy, and also what your family is going through and the fallen Marine I witnessed come home. I've been witness to a lot of sorry this month alone and it's overwhelming to say the least.

    My mother asked my why I get so upset... I guess it's just the way I'm wired, and I'm compassionate and I cannot help but hurt for you, your family, the families affected by this month alone... My question to my mother is why doesn't she get upset?

    It also struck me what you said about 7 year olds "back in the day" not having a voice in the home, like they do now. When my kids were little, I always asked them what color cup they wanted, or bowl, or gave them small choices. This always infuriated my mother and other judgmental people around me... What is the harm in giving a child choices, in giving them their voice at an early age? I believe by doing that, I helped them be able to make decisions at an early age. I wouldn't change it at all. I gave my niece and nephew the same type of choice when they were here for Thanksgiving and also got ridiculed... My niece and nephew enjoyed the chance to have a choice! As little as it was. I won't change, and I believe I'm special...

    Thank you for your blog today Regina. I woke to a migraine this morning (and no internet/cable) and one of the first things I did when I felt better and got cable back was run across your blog. Like the days we are blessed to have, your blogs always surprise me with road they take.

    Keep writing... it's the best way to heal, I truly believe that.


  11. Hello Ms. Regina, every day you inspire me in many different ways. Thank you. Now about YOU, I am concerned about your broken heart. Do not let it go on to long without seeing your doctor. It is possible to have problems with your heart after extreme emotional stress. I had similar symptoms a few years ago and I thought I was having a heart attack after losing a loved one. I was crying alot daily for about 2 weeks and my chest hurt. Please take care of you. Martha L.