Thursday, December 13, 2012

My first new experience with Chris






My first, new experience with Chris,

I was having a conversation with a high school classmate several days ago, maybe three days after my son Chris passed away.  I asked her if she knew what her daughters hands felt like.  She said "I know what they look like" to which I said "No... Do you KNOW what they FEEL like?"  I was trying to find out if she could physically feel them with her mind... Does that make any sense?

See, I was blessed to have had several seasons of football to hold my sons hands.  Chris played on the line and was constantly getting his fingers stepped on in a pileup or they'd get jammed from another player ramming into him.  It could have been any number of things that caused his hands to swell, sprain, ache, etc.  he also went thru a period of time when he had warts near his nail beds and we would take trips to the dermatologist for treatments to help them fade.  The doctor would scrape down the wart till it began to bleed and apply an acid that would turn the warts black.  For a while his hands looked pretty gross but that's just the way it was.

Well, I had many many chances to hold Chris' hands.  I called them sausages and said he could never be a doctor because they weren't nimble enough to hold those tiny medical tools.  I told him we'd have Jeremy be the doctor in the house.  His hands were more appropriately sized for eating finger foods.

Can you feel your kids hands in your mind? And if you don't have kids can you feel your spouses or your parents? Do you know the texture? Do you know any special little bump or swollen spot? Any scar tissue or the smoothness of the fingernails?  How about the thickness and length of the fingers and palm?  If you covered your hand over theirs and slid your hand down the top do you KNOW without a doubt whose hand you're touching?

I do.  Thank God.

I know Christopher's smooth areas ( there weren't any except between the webs of his fingers) and I know the dry spots (most all of his hand).  I know what his warts felt like when I would apply medication, the thickness of his thumb and the meaty part near his wrist, the length and feel of his fingernails (he bit them like I do) and I know what his palm felt like.  That too was dry and sometimes had tiny bits that would catch on my hand because they were going to flake off soon.

I got to spend time holding both his hands sometimes too.  If he was swollen from a recent football game and I wanted to measure how the swelling was coming along I would close my eyes, hold both of his hands and manipulate my fingers around the swelling so I could compare it to the hand that wasn't hurt.  For some reason I find I can more clearly concentrate with my eyes shut.  If I was looking at his hands it seemed there was too much going on for my brain to assess things. Sensory overload I guess using my sight and touch.

So - I am so happy I know my sons hands.  Not only to see but to feel in my mind and heart now.

What spurred the conversation with my friend, who by the way is also named Chris?  I'm happy to tell you why.  Because the night before I had that conversation with her, I guess two days after his passing, my son came to me in the night, during the briefest moments of sleep I got, and he held my hand.  I got to put mine on top of his and I knew he was there.  It was as real a hand hold as if he was in front of me this second.  I can't wait for him to come see me again.



I hope that as you read this you were able to say you too KNOW what your child or spouses or parents hands feel like in your mind.  If not, maybe you can work on it?

Now that brings me to my next bit... You see, I have two sons.  One I had the luxury of living with because he was in high school but my older son is a junior in college and doesn't live nearby most of the year.  Jeremy doesn't play a physical sport where I need to hold his hands much to help them heal.  Jeremy is a runner.  Most any of his ailments center around the feet and I'm typically not near those a lot.  Feet are covered, hands are not.

Like my friend Chris, I KNOW what Jeremy's hands look like.  I think I know what they feel like but I can't describe down to pinpoint precision all the nooks and crannies ...  the webbing on his hands, any calluses, etc.  Jeremy's hands are gentle, slender and softer. He doesn't bite his nails beyond tugging at a hang nail or a bit of dry skin by his nail bed.  I tried to hold them more this week during the wake and funeral so I can KNOW them better.  I want to feel them in my mind.  I made progress this week and for that I'm happy.  I didn't hold them as much as I would have liked but I'm OK with that.  Jeremy would object.  He doesn't go back to college until January sometime so I have some time to KNOW them better.  I'm looking forward to that.  Maybe if he reads this he'll hand them over and not make me work so hard at locking them into my mind and heart?  I'm not going to ask but I'm going to hope.

If you're unfamiliar with the story of what happened to my son on December 1st here's a link to get you started.  http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Shen-students-mourned-4085743.php  I'd prefer not to dwell on that here but believe me all you need to do is search and you will find more information than you probably care to know and it will be a very long time to conclude.  You may be my friend thru the whole process, I would really appreciate that.  My objective thru this blog is to probably selfish - I just want to talk about my kids, my family, my friends, my experiences.  I have a ton to say.  It makes me feel good to get it out.  I'm proud of my boys and it makes me excited to share what comes to mind.  I know it will be therapeutic but it also excites me because I have something to look forward to.  I have a new purpose!

40 comments:

  1. Regina, God Bless You. I am terribly sorry for your loss. I continually keep you, your beautiful family, The Rivers Family as well as all the families/friends & our amazing community in my prayers. You are a gifted writer...so relatable...it's like you are right here talking to us, I "got" what you meant about knowing hands, I too, know my loved ones hands...I look forward to your future blogs. I am so happy to hear Chris has come to you in your dreams...he will surely be back! xoxo

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  2. Regina god bless you i am sorry for your loss my prayers are with you and your family as well as the other families . My kids go to shen as well we went to the lighting to be there for all the families . And i to know what my kids hands look like with my eyes closed and i never would have looked at it the way u did till i seen this ty .

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  3. Hi Regina~My name is Dana and i live in the Albany area. I want you to know that I with thousands of others have kept Your family and Deannas,Baily and Matt's in our thoughts! There is not a day that goes by that i dont think of all of you. You all will be forever in my heart! Im away from my 3 kids right now while my father battles lung cancer. I do not know what their hands feel like! I will be sure when i get home to study those little hands everyday until i can
    feel them in my mind! You are a strong woman and i will continue to keep you all in my thoughts~ Dana xoxo

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  4. Regina,I have 3 boys and can honestly say,I DO know their hands. My oldest, a freshmen in high school, reminds me so much of Chris from all I've learned about him. He plays football and is very dedicated to it. He is very well liked by his peers and teachers. I often receive compliments about him from teachers and parents. He's a great kid,a class clown, but never been in trouble, not even once. My heart goes out to you. I can only imagine what you must be going through . I enjoy your writings. Thank you.

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  5. When I was 19, I went what your family is going through. My 18 year old brother was killed by a drunk driver and I watched the pain my parents went through. At the funeral the priest said to my parents if you had a choice to 1 - have Jon in your life for the last 18 years or 2 - never had been blessed with him what would you choose? My mom said she would have chose to have him for the 18 years. I am sure that you would have made that same choice. The one thing that helped me when my brother died was the month before his death, my grandfather had passed and Jon called me having a hard time with it and someone told him to write our grandfather a letter telling him everything you never got to say. So the day that Jon was killed I sat down and wrote him a letter and that enabled me to be strong for my parents. I still every now and then sit and write him a letter. This blog is like your letter and I applaud you for starting it is a great outlet and I look forward to reading future blogs.

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  6. Regina,

    Thank you for writing this. I am going to go home today and hold my son and daughters hands today and get to know their hands. I think about your family, The Rivers, The Hardys and Wind family everyday. I pray for you all. Your blog is amazing and you are an inspiration to everyone. God Bless.

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  7. Mrs. Stewart - I have been following the terrible tragedy online and I've been keeping you and the other three families in my prayers. My husband was the swim coach at Shaker and knows Bailey. He and I are both Shen alumns. I have a son - he'll be 8 months old next week - and I DO know what his hands feel like. Reading your post, which is beautifully written, brought tears to my eyes because as I was reading your words, I was imagining my son's hands, and fully understanding what you were saying. What a precious gift. You are not selfish in starting a blog - you are a mom who is nothing but extremely proud of your sons and your family ... and moms like me - new moms - look forward to hearing words of wisdom, advice and experiences from moms like you. Thank you!

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  8. This has been incredible to read. I thank you for your strength to share, it means so much to those who will read this, and I am sure that will be many people. I have shared your blog with a friend of mine who lost her husband and a good friend of mine a few years ago and she has toyed with starting blog...I hope this encourages her. Best wishes to you & your family..
    Kelly DeRosa

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  9. Regina you are a strong beautiful hearted mom I can tell ypur blog got me thinking I'm happy to say I do KNOW their hands. I also have a son your Chris's age he goes to scotia I have found myself really trying hard not to sweat the small stuff and give some extra hugs. He might not get it, but you and I do

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  10. Hello Regina, I am a fellow Clifton Park-er and mom of 4 little ones. First, I want you to know I am heartbroken for your loss and I have been and will continue to pray for you. I find it amazing that you are already blessing others tremendously with your tender words. I totally understand what you are saying about your children's hands...I have often remarked that I would know each of my child's hands by touch, without seeing their hands or faces. Thank you for the reminder to stop and notice details, to appreciate these special moments.

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  11. God has a plan, a plan we will never understand until we make it home to heaven. I lost my brother David is 2005 I was only 23, the day I put my brother to rest I was mad at the world i was heart broken, I shut my friends and family out. It took me a very long time to get back to myself. Then in 2009 I found myself on a emergency flight to Florida because my brother Genie was sick in the hospital on life support it was a long 2 weeks a living hell I must say. I prayed and begged god to spare my brother Genie me and my sister's already lost a brother , I told god that his children needed him, while my brother was on life support I talked to him begging him to keep fighting but he was to weak , in my heart I knew I was gonna loose him so I told him it was ok to rest to return home with David and his mother. The day before my brother passed away me and my brothers wife Amanda found she was pregnant with his second child, this gave me hope and made me realize that even in the worst of times something beautiful can come out of something so tragic. When I said my final goodbye to my brother I held his hands where I had a rosary placed and he had a smile on his face which gave me not only hope but peace knowing he went home he is now an angel with my brother David and their mom watching over me and my sisters and all the children. When I was helping Amanda (Genies wife) plan his services I promised myself not to turn into the angry person I was when David passed away. I take it day by day i cry when i need to and talk when i need to. There are days when it all seems like a big dream and i have to bring myself back to reality, sometimes the pain is to much to bear, on those days I sit and close my eyes and in my mind I can hear third voices and their silly laughs but most of all I see their beautiful smiles. I understand what you mean about chriss hands bc I knew my brother genies hands they were big and fat with dry cracks and rigid short nails. But I don't know my brother Davies hands that way I know what they look like but while I was visiting Genie in the hospital I would wash his hands and lotion them I would hold them and pray and I will cherish that in my heart forever. God has gave me and my sister's a lot of heart ache but also gave us many blessings. I thank you for being so brave and sharing you're story. I did not know any of the children but my niece is a 10 th grader at shen and it hits home right to my heart. May god be with you and all the families involved

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  12. Regina,

    Yes, thank you for writing this. My heart breaks for you and your family. Your words are so powerful. You really are an unbelieveable lady. I look forward to hearing more of your stories.

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  13. Thank you, Regina-that was such an important message. I live in Massachusetts, but, I have been following your story because my family is from Mechanicville. I am so sorry for such a devastating loss and I hope you find comfort in spreading your message to others. Thank you for your courage.
    Stephanie McBride

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  14. Regina, God Bless you and your family!! I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Perhaps, it may help you to know that so many people care about you, your son Chris and what happened. I learned of this from someone (a good college friend) that you do not know firsthand however are part of the same school. I, my wife Kris and our two beautiful wonderful kids Matthew & Madison (M&M)live in Charlotte, NC. Julie that lives near you and attended a while back, the same school as your son (sorry Julie) had a posting on fb and I happened to see it and for some reason had to read it. Well...... the rest is history. The loss of your son is enough to bring out the Best in all of us, however, the way in which you conduct yourself, the way in which you relate to all of us that truly care is remarkable and overwhelming!! At this point I am not sure how your story has changed me but I know it has & I look forward to finding out and to continue to check out your notes from time-to-time.
    Regina, like you I have been blessed with a wonderful family and I can't thank you enough! For whatever reason you are able to be strong and relate to your community, those that you know and the many more that you do not and for that, I pray you continue to do so as you may not know it now but you are helping so many. Interesting, it should be the other way around.
    Again, God Bless you & your family. Kindest Regards, Tom Reitz

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  15. Mrs.Stewert I did not personally know Chris but like many other individuals I have closely followed along and this tragedy weighed heavy on my heart. I would like you to know I pray nightly for you and your family, I even said a prayer to your son, I told him if he needed help up there to look for my father. I am 28yrs old and a mother of two, the love of a child cannot be summed in to words. Sometimes between working a full time job and trying to accomplish all the small task in life your day becomes a motion, and action a race to get from point a to point b. What I wanted to tell you that since hearing about Chris and Deanna I stop my day, I put in on pause, I look at the people I love, I study them I embrace the moment and make a memory. I hold my kids a little tighter and I realized what is important. And in this unfortunant event where its hard to shine light you and your family did. Your sons passing did not go in vein, it gave me a different way to look at life, a gift that is remarkable. I will continue to pray for each of you, you will never be far from my thoughts. God bless you and your family. God bless Chris...

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  16. You are truly and inspiration to me. Wonderfully written thoughts and memories. Sharing these heartfelt stories of your sons is far from selfish. You will always have Shen friends. Peace and Love.

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  17. Regina,

    You are a beautiful writer. I look forward to more of your blogs. My daughter is a senior at Shaker and this tragedy really affected her. and now I am hoping she lets me KNOW her hands, I think I know them but now I want to be sure that I really KNOW them. Thank you for sharing. Tina Hennessey

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  18. What a beautiful testimony of the love for your son - forever etched in your hands and your heart. Your words will bring comfort as you type them down and relive your memories ... and you will in turn bring comfort to others. There are many people out there suffering loss that they cannot put into words - you do so very eloquently. I think you will reach into their hearts and bring them peace, and make them know they are not alone in their despair. There is much joy to be shared from the lives their loved ones spent here in their time among us, you will remind them.
    Love to you xxx

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  19. Gina,
    You're such an extraordinary woman, mother and sister. No doubt you realized how inspiring, comforting and healing this blog would be to us, your family and friends. I can't tell you how touching this is... and I can't imagine how many more lives will be enriched as a result of your words. You're special, Sis... our love is with you.
    Paul

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  20. Beautiful. I look forward to getting to know your sweet boy through your blog. I too have a beautiful 22 year old daughter and a wonderful 20 year old son that I cherish and will never take holding their hand for granted...ever again. I look forward to your inspiring blog.

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  21. Regina- You and your family as well as the Rivers, Hardys and Wind families are in my thougths and prayers everyday. I am a mother of 2 small children from Clifton Park and not a day goes by since this tragedy has happened that I don't at the end of the day reflect on how I have spent my time with my children to make the most of it. This story of such amazing kids gives me hope during a time when all we hear is what is wrong with our youth that there is still stong, loving, compassionate, caring and funny kids out there. We have you to thank for this, not only have you raised this in your children but you are willing to share this with all of us. I wish you strength, peace and many visits by Chris. I hope that you continue with your stories not only for yourself but also for the rest of the community that has been touched this tragedy as I believe you in turn give us comfort, strength and a reminder of what is really important as you never know when people can be taken away from us. Thank you and god bless

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  22. Mrs. Stewart, While I didn't know any of the kids, I am a Shaker mom to a junior and I too know my daughter's hands right down to the tiny scar on her pinky. I have held you and your family in my prayers since the new first broke. I would love to be your friend, I think God wants me to help you heal, I don't know why but He does! I love your first post on Facebook the other morning and I think the Flag from the Capital is beautiful! I can see that your an amazing woman and I look forward to reading aall that you have to say!
    May God bless you!
    Chele' (pronounced Shelly) Teabout

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  23. Regina - I've been hoping there'd be an opportunity to reach you more directly. Mark Thomas, our son, was (and remains) devastated at the loss of Chris. He continues to feel a great deal of respect for him and, as our nightlong discussion unveiled early that Sunday morning, had a brotherly love for him. As you know Chris' hands, Steph and I have a pretty good feel for Mark's face. Going through the Bell's Palsy definitely brought us more physically closer. And you're right, it IS a blessing... though we don't recognize it as such at the time. Thanks for writing this and I hope to see more from you in the not-so-distant future. I think it's therapy for more than just yourself. Please feel free to call on either Stephanie or myself for anything, even if it's just to talk. We've been thinking about you a lot lately.

    Warm regards, Steve Thomas

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  24. Regina -

    Thank you so much for showing me and our entire community what true strength and love is.

    I am a business professional, an inspirational speaker and the author of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Soul", a book containing inspirational stories and lessons in compassion for the heart and soul.

    Please know I have contacted the principal at Shen and I would not only like to donate my services as a speaker for the students at Shen & Shaker, but also personally donate a copy of my book to each senior at the school in honor of students, families and our community at large who are affected by this tragedy. I hope in some small way this will help with the healing process - it is the least I can do.

    I am currently booked to speak to over 500 high school students in Saratoga in January and I am speaking at the Troy Music Hall as part of their Authors Series in February. I would like to take 50% of the proceeds from my Troy Music Hall event to go toward a sports scholarship in Deanna's and Chris's name.

    The in-kind donation for my book is over $12,000.00 and the in-kind donation for speaking is $1,500.00.

    I hope to meet you someday soon to personally give you a hug. People do care.

    Wishing you peace & love,
    Robert Clancy

    "Death is never an end, but rather the seed for a new beginning. Love always helps that seed grow. Love is stronger than death even though it can't stop death from happening. Death can never separate us from love."

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  25. Regina,
    I cannot imagine what you are all going through, however, you said that Chris came to you in a dream and thats profound..my father passed away in 02 and has never come to me, just my mom and they say it's because Im not ready....so the fact that your ready to recieve him is a gift alone, and he will be back to see you with messages...I lost my boyfriend in a car accident when I was 18, I know what Bailey is going through, I even after all these years have a son named after him...but just as Chris will be always be there for Bailey, Sean has always been there for me, as I was the love of his life when he passed away....if you ever need anything, just ask, im sure you will have 1,000's of people waiting to help! God Bless to you and everyone who has been affected by this trajedy....

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  26. A favorite quote of mine, from Jimmy Valvano's infamous ESPY speech is:

    "To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."

    Regina, I've accomplished all three of those things today just in reading this post. We don't know one another but you've made today a richer day for me. I hope you continue to heal and feel and cherish your memories as you're doing now. I'll keep your son in my heart and prayers for a very long time.

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  27. We've never met and I don't know any of the children involved in this accident, but this story has touched the entire community. I can't imagine what you've gone through as a mother. Thank your sharing your story. I look forward to reading more.

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  28. Thank you for reminding me to know my children inside and out. My oldest is 26 and I cant even recall what his hands look like. Not taking this for granted another second. Thank you for sharing, your words brought me to tears. God Bless Reg.

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  29. Dear Regina, Please accept my sincere condolences to you and your family. I've kept your family as well as the Rivers, Hardy, and Wind families in my prayers. Your blog entry was very thought provoking and made me realize that I don't really "know" my children's hands. I have to admit that sometimes (well maybe many times) I get caught up in the stress of everyday life. Your words inspired me to try and slow down and pay attention to what is really important: the touch of a child's hand, the sound of their voice, laughter, their smile. Thanks for sharing your experience, you have a very generous spirit! I pray for God to give you much comfort in the days to come.

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  30. Hello, I to am a Shen Class of 2013 Mom. My heart goes out to you and has been since I first recieved the message from a Shen email on 12/2 that there had been a tragic car accident and two students had perished. I also have heartfelt sorrow for Deanna's family. Our families have never met, my son is "not into football". He is more into martial arts and I am trying to get him remotivated to continue on, he has taken a break for too long. I digress, your candor about knowing your son's hands, describing them is such detail and then awakening to the feeling of his hand on top of yours after he had passed over has brought more tears. Not of grief but of joy! I do believe we are and can be visited by our loved ones as angels. I also believe they know when we are emotionally overwhelmed and need comfort. He knew you would know it was him, that was something special between you two. The important thing is to keep those memories and stories alive for it will keep Chris forever close to you. You are not being selfish, you are sharing yourself and your life. May God Bless and keep you and your family in his hands.

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  31. Thank you for sharing yourself with us and reminding us about the little things we take for granted. Tonight, I will hold my daughters hands, they are 17 & 14, and I will try to learn what you did with Chris. You will be in my prayers for peaceful healing.

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  32. Dear Regina,

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart and grief in this blog. I did not know Chris, but my nephew, Brendan, played football with him. I have been praying for you and your family since my sister called me that night to pray on the way to Albany Med with Pat Hardy. What you wrote inspired me to look more closely at the little things in my loved ones. I do know what my youngest son's hands feel like. He's a musician with long, slender fingers and soft hands. He held my hand at the vigil last week. I love that you already have experienced being with Chris in your dreams. I have experienced that as well with my dad and two grandmothers. God uses so many different ways to bring us comfort and I'm so glad He did that for you. I will continue to pray for you and your family ~ that God will comfort and strengthen you. Sincerely, Anita Germano

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  33. Regina,
    My name is Ryann. I work with Mike at Maximus, and I wanted to start by saying that we are all praying for you, Mike, Jeremy and your family. And of course Deanna's family, Bailey, Matt, an their families.
    This was such an inspiration read. Tonight I did what you asked and got better aquatinted with my daughter's tiny hands.

    I was in attendance at Chris's funeral, as my mother in law served as a Eucharist minister. When I received the email from Guy, I was excited for the opportunity to help your family, even in the smallest way. I couldn't help but watch you throughout the service. Every time you cried, I sobbed . As a mother, it was impossible not to put myself in your shoes. And of course to see Mike so vulnerable ... It was just heartbreaking. I so badly wanted to hug you. When Mike returns to work, I will give him an extra one and ask him to deliver it to you.

    I look forward to following this blog and getting to know you and your family better. Especially Chris. Seems like he was an incredible kid. A product of two great parents, indeed. Take care of yourself. Xoxo

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  34. Quite incredible. Thank you and God Bless.

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  35. Dear Mrs. Stewart, I would first like to say that you, your family and the Rivers family have been in my thoughts and prayers and will continue to be.
    I can relate all to well to your experiences for two reasons. The first reason being that i was in a horrific accident with my mother when i was only 4yrs. old and remember to this day. It was later learned that the driver who caused the accident not only left us for dead but had been drinking. How we survived is a miracle. Our car was just filled with gas and we were sent flipping over and landing upside down a15ft overpass. The only item left in tact in the car was a tiny plastic statue of the Blessed Virgin. :-)
    The second reason is that i totally understand how you felt your son's hands and presence. I very suddenly and totally unexpectedly lost my mother who i loved and adored to an illness in 2001. I was so upset as i wasnt dreaming of her or feeling her presence until about 1 month later when she appeared in my sleep telling me she was happy, not to be afraid and that she loved me so much and will always be with me. She also hugged me which was the most amazing and REAL feeling i have ever felt. She comes to me often in my dreams and i have heard her beautiful voice and warm words many times since then.
    I feel strongly that you will continue to deel your son's hands and voice and presence many times to come and it will bring you great joy and peace... :-)
    I hope this made you smile. God Bless you and your family.
    Anne Marie D'Ippoliti
    P.S. My parents were readers and Eucharistic Ministers at Corpus Christi for many years... :-)

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  36. Mrs. Stewart-
    I want to let you know how great I think you are. How strong I think you've been. I know it has been all but easy, I know it must have been tiresome to stand for all of those hours at Corpus Christi during Chris' wake. I am so very sorry, and I understand that no matter how many times I say it--it won't make anything better. When I got to you, after rehearsing what I would say to you for six hours- I couldn't get it out of my mouth. I was absolutely amazed that you were still standing, I was utterly speechless at your grace. I don't even think I could tell you I was sorry then. And I know, a day full of hugs from strangers was already mostly behind you, so I tried to make it quick. But, how I could of hugged you for so much longer, for bringing such a great kid into our lives.
    You already know Chris was an awesome guy. And I can't reiterate that enough to you. In elementary school, I very much remember how tall he was, how much of a big guy he was- and we were still only 'little'. Anyway, I wanted you to know, that in a time where little boys of the class of 2013,thought girls were gross and in a time where boys were all but nice to me- Chris was. I don't remember Chris ever being unfriendly. He was just a genuinely kind, gentle giant. I may not have been close to Chris, but if someone had ever asked me seven, eight, nine years ago- "Is Chris Stewart your friend?" I would have quickly and confidently answered "Yes."

    I hope Chris- you new guardian angel in heaven- continues to guide you through this difficult time. I pray for your family every night, and thank you,for bringing Chris into our lives- even if we only got a short time with him. He was amazing, and you are too. Please stay strong.

    -Hannah R. Shenendehowa Class of 2013 class member

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  37. Regina,
    I know Nick's hands. When we were in the hospital, I held them and was in the moment remembering what they felt like. His hands were thick like his Poppa's and the knuckles were knotty. His hands were so much bigger than mine and I still remember the texture. His little brother Stephen who is now 15 has the same hands. When I hold his, I feel Nick and I thank God that I have my other son. He's so different from his brother, but every once in a while I see Nick in him.

    I dream of Nick. Not as often as I would like, but he comes to me when I need him most, when I'm at my lowest. He lets me know he's around and I have felt his warmth, his arms enfold me. Our sons are always with us-I know this to be true.

    My heart breaks for you, your family, Deanna's family, as well as Matt and Bailey's. I'm here for you and would like to get together to walk with you, talk about your son, give you a hug. Please email me at j9camm@gmail.com or call me at 466-5558.

    I wish you peace and love, Janine

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  38. I did not know your son. I never knew his hands. And his hands never touched mine. But his presence in our community has touched my heart, brought joy to my life and lifted my spirit through his short 17 years without him or me even realizing it. And because of that, I knew your son. You see, Chris went to preschool with my daughter Taylor. They practiced their ABC’s together. Sat next to one another during a reading of one of Mrs. Lacijan’s many stories. They learned about friendship and kindness. They practiced singing songs and preparing for the Holiday Presentation for their parents. And it is here where your son first touched my heart. His adorable performance, alongside my daughter brought much joy and pride and laughter into my life. As we watched the performance over and over again on DVD, this past week and looked over the preschool photo album, Chris touched my heart all over again. How can your heart not skip a beat while watching 23 4 year olds singing their little hearts out while wearing chicken, sheep, cow and duck head bands? Priceless! I can see why Taylor would chase Chris around and try to kiss him. I don’t think she ever did tell me whether or not she actually caught him.
    His years at Tesago, although I wasn’t his teacher, remind me that in some small way I am helping to make a difference in a child’s life. In a family’s life. In a community. It makes me happy to know that what I do, matters. And when I forget, I have your son and others to remind me.
    During his high school years, as I sat in the stands waiting to watch the Color Guard at the Half-Time Show, Chris brought joy into my life. While Chris’ stubbly, swollen hands were getting jammed and stomped on some more by his opponents, he made me realize that high school football is more than just a game. It is a way to reconnect with your youth, to form bonds with a community larger than your family, your friends, your neighborhood. To rally around your kids and support them so they know that they matter. That they are loved.
    When I returned to that same football stadium last week, I stood with my daughter, my colleagues, my past students, my neighbors, and my friends. I prayed for our children, for our community and for your loss. And I cried for a boy who I did not know, but whose presence has forever touched my life. That night, Chris taught me about the love and power of community.
    I volunteered my time with the Movement of Silence. I wanted to help in keeping the spirit and memory alive of your son whose hands I never held. I gave you a hug. I might have been #3,876 out of the 4,000 that you’ve received over these past 2 weeks. It made me happy to hear that the hugs help. I want to thank you for your gift of Christopher to this world. For your courage and for your strength. My prayer for you is that Chris’ spirit is with you always, helping to guide you through, to lift you up in your darkest moments and to celebrate those small steps that bring you back into the light. God Bless.
    Alison Edwards
    PS- Taylor did say she caught him once on the leg. She said it was the highlight of preschool


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  39. I am a Shen Alumna, graduate of the Class of 2010. I never knew Chris, or the others who were involved. I was in South Carolina, where I attend college, when I heard the news of what happened. It's funny, because until that very moment, I never thought that I would miss Shen. Don't get me wrong, I made friends while in high school; good friends, some of whom I am still close with to this day. I made good memories, ones that make me laugh, cry, and smile, when I think about them. I gained new knowledge and experiences, all of which have helped me in college. But when people would say that they missed high school, I would just laugh, and think about all the bad times in high school. I would think about all of the drama, the broken hearts, the math courses, the "popular" cliques, and all of these things fueled my disgust with high school. What I failed to remember, was the closeness of a school like Shen, one that was filled with so many kids, and yet, had the uncanny ability to pull together at just the right moments. We, as current studies, alumni, faculty, and staff, can do the impossible together. We can tweet until Tim Tebow calls Matt Hard. And we can be there for families who grieve at the loss of the most important person in their lives, and maybe, hopefully, we can help to make their heart ache a little bit less. I was there watching the Candlelight Vigil for your son and for Deanna, and I never wanted to go "home" so badly. I never wanted to be on that football field so badly. I wanted you to know, as if my actually being there would affect this, that even though I didn't know you, and even though I never knew Chris, I have the utmost love and compassion for you and for your family.
    My parents are my best friends and they mean the world to me. As an only child who moved around a lot as a kid, there were my constants. They were my constant supporters, confidants, and friends. I can tell you exactly how my mother's hands feel, every vein, every line, every nailbed, because she would rub my head and hold my hand after every broken heart, bad grade, or fight with my best friend. She still does this today, I might add. I know exactly how my father's hands feel, because when we would swim together, he would show me how to shoot up water at someone, at just the right angle so that they would get hit in the face. I know every hair, every mole, and every scrape (due to our new puppy) on his hands. I never would have thought about these things unless you would have written this blog post.
    Thank you. Thank you for reminding me that I need to remember that every moment with my parents is a special one. Thank you for showing me how to be strong. And I hope you remember, even in your darkest hours, that your story, your love, and your light, has touched so many people. Your son will never be forgotten. He will always hold a little place in my heart, even though I never had the privilege of meeting him. God Bless and Merry Christmas to you and to your family.

    Love and Best Wishes, Ali

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