Friday, December 14, 2012

Some things I'll miss...

Some things I'll miss...

As any parent would when suffering the loss of a child, shock and panic sets in and the mind goes frantic.  I have always thought that in a crisis I would be the perfect person to be there to assist.  I'm even tempered, I'm logical, I'm calm and I can think straight and make quick decisions on behalf of the group.

It seemed to me this past week and a half that I did pretty well with all the crappy decision making that needed to be done in such a short time-frame.  I kept reminding myself to focus on the task at hand.  I was petrified I would forget something and then after the funeral I would beat myself up for forgetting something that Chris would have wanted.  Something I should have known better than to leave out.  There is no re-do.  No editing to improve it.  I didn't want to do it at all but I really didn't want to be angry at myself for doing it incompletely. 

My family of helpers, my team was sitting on the living room floor fine tuning all the components of the wake and funeral when I hit a critical outburst.  "Did we cover everything?!!!" I just didn't know.  I was assured by my team everything was perfect, nothing was left out.  I had to trust it was.  I found that I was not quite the perfect person to assist in a crisis and I had to give that up to those around me.  They were carrying me and that was good.  Maybe I'm just not good in my own crisis situation but I will be for others?

I saw an episode on Oprah one time, years ago.  It was all about human responses to situations.  That episode was how I determined I passed the test as a leader in a crisis.  Maybe you remember the show?  If not I'm sure it's online somewhere.  I’m fuzzy on a lot of it but If memory serves, Oprah was secretly taping the lobby of her studio as people were entering to see her show.  They were told their seats were unavailable and they couldn't come in.  Of course, in truth they did still have their seat but Oprah was seeing who reacted in what way.  Some people yelled, argued, etc. others were more willing to listen.  I can't remember all of the episode, I think they did this sort of undercover taping in different situations.  The idea though, was to see how people react.  Are they rational? Do they listen? Are they screamers? Can they negotiate or come to an agreement on how to work it out?  I felt I passed with flying colors.  I was shocked and amazed at how some flew off the handle and were argumentative. That would never be me.

Well, my note today is about how I have panicked this week. I had the silly notion that if I didn't immediately start writing down everything I could remember about Chris that I would forget him.  I KNOW that won’t happen but that irrational side of me - like from the group on Oprah that I determined I wasn't one of - well I became one of them.  I'm trying to reel it back. I have way too many things to share with you about my kids and my thoughts.  I'm even fine with me being the only reader. It makes me feel good to put it on paper.

So here is my irrational list of what I will miss about Chris:

- turning on the living room TV and finding the volume up way too loud.  The station would be one of a few shows: ESPN, Diners Drive Ins and Dives on Food Network with Guy Fieri or Pawn Stars
- his size 14 sneakers blocking the front door
- the shower head pushed up so high that the water would fly right over my head until I adjusted the nozzle
- the kitchen chair cushion tossed on the floor because he couldn't fit comfortably under the table when it was under him
-returning my car with the seat pushed way back, the mirrors adjusted and the radio left on after borrowing it to drive Bailey home.  (He argued mine got better gas mileage)
- waking me up when he got home late to show me something Bailey gave him or something he bought to give her
- climbing onto my bed in the evening while I sat propped up on my iPad and watching TV.  He would sprawl on his back next to me, hold our little toy poodle "Happy" up over his head and tell him he had terrible breath
- hearing the two quick beeps of his car horn when he was locking it in the driveway and I knew he was safely home
- making his daily lunch, adding a personal note and sitting it in the stairwell so he wouldn't forget it on his way out

- having mini text arguments with him about his curfew time when he wanted more time out
- his feet in the creaky stairwell
- texting him to be quiet from my bed at night because he was still up playing Xbox, keeping me awake
- grocery shopping each weekend and being excited at the savings on my bill once he left for college
- telling him to stop yanking on the railings or he'd loosen them
- calling me "momma" and texting me "lylyly" every night
- hip checking me in the hallway or kitchen when we were both moving around in the same space.  He would be oblivious that he bumped me and sent me off my feet!  When I brought it to his attention he'd simply say "oh sorry". He was clueless and that was cute :-)

I know I won't forget my son.  I know my irrational thoughts are just that but I'm glad to share them anyway.  I'll have plenty more as time goes on but for today I feel good about these few that were on my mind.  Enjoy this sunny day and do something nice for someone. I will do the same.


  1. You are not the only one who reads this Regina. I am so thankful for you. Thank you for doing this. It not only helps you but it brings much needed perspective to my own parenting. Because of you I hold my son just a little longer and tighter each night. Smell his head just a little longer. Savor the moments. Appreciate what I have. You are a gift to me. An inspiration.

  2. You are such an insperation.. i enjoy reading about your handsome son Chris. I don't know you but I am glad to read all the good things. Please keep writing my daughter will be 17 in a couple months & this has affected me more than I ever realized it would. I can tell you that you are in my thoughts & prayers every single day. <3

  3. I love how you are sharing Chris with us. I graduated from Shen in 2000 & my dad died a week later playing basketball at the Y. I will never forget the kindness my classmates & the community gave to our family in that dark time. I keep all of you in my prayers nightly. Thank you for sharing your world.

  4. You are truely inspiring! I graduated from shaker in '06, I didn't know Chris and don't have children yet so I can only imagine what you are going through! But it is clear from your writing and rational you actually ate that you are a very strong woman! I'm so sorry for your tremendous loss, and I think what you are doing with this blog for yourself (and others who loved him) is amazing!

  5. This made my heart smile ... Keep sharing those little things about Chris. Loved reading them!!

  6. What beautiful memories...Hold onto them...I put a note in my 10 yr old sons lunch earlier this year and he informed me that when he saw it he immediately put it in his pocket for fear one of his friends would see it and make fun. I will be showing him this wonderful blog and picture of big, strong Chris smiling big and proud at his moms note! He is aware of the accident as I have explained it to him (and we watched the memorial at the school) and things that can happen when you least expect in hopes of teaching him to treasure everything in life...Thank you Regina for sharing such sweet memories!

  7. I am going to read your blog faithfully because I can see myself in you...I love my son to the point that I would break if anything would happen to him...When this horrible accident occurred, I went straight into his bedroom and said "See? Even if you're doing everything right, something horrible can must be aware of everything around you when driving...if ever something happened to you I couldn't live"

    But you're showing me that I could live...I would be in pain for a long, long time but I would survive.

    God Bless you Mom...

    Another Mom of a Great Son <3

  8. Please keep writing this blog. You are not only helping yourself but also those of us who are grieving with you. This is practically all we've thought about since Dec. 1. My granddaughter is a good friend of Bailey's and from all we've heard from her about Chris and all we've read, we can only feel diminished because we didn't know him personally. We will never forget him.

  9. Regina- please don't stop writing ever if it helps you. Perhaps you weren't the perfect person in the crisis of funeral planning, but you are quite the perfect person to assist in a crisis for the Shen community. I guess you're our Jacquie Kennedy. Those of us who are total strangers are feeling the pain of this tragedy too. You're wonderful words give us the opportunity to get to know Chris, and we are the better for it.

  10. I agree wholeheartedly with Rosemarie above. In the Oprah scenario I would regrettably be the irrational screamer and you are actually 'coaching' me in my goal to change that ;)

  11. You seem like the BEST mom. The kind of mom I hope to be when I have children, eventually. It is evident that you cherish each day with your family, and do not take for granted one moment with them. Just that picture alone of Chris with the ADORABLE note shows the lengths you go to let them know you love them, and the smile on his face is priceless! He is so lucky to have a mom like you, and we are lucky that you are willing to share his amazing life with us on here. While I did not know him during this lifetime, I promise when I do have children to love them even more on your behalf. Might I suggest you keep those size 14's by the door and send up a little prayer every time you pass them, if you can bear it? God Bless.

  12. I have long believed that we are exactly as strong as we need to be in any given situation (probably mostly because I HATE the saying “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” what if I don’t want to be any stronger). Through these unimaginable circumstances you have wowed all of us with your amazing strength, grace and poise. There were and are people around you with a little strength to spare right now. Use it, someday you will return the favor to them. And if writing helps you then DO IT. Do it for you. Do it for Chris. For your family, and the future generations in your family who will get to know Chris through you. Much love!

  13. You inspire me Regina...please keep posting. I enjoy getting to know you & Chris. Wow, he is so proud of you right now! You were blessed to have one another for the time you did...your relationship sounds pretty amazing. I will take your advice today and pay it forward...and I will stop getting annoyed when my stepson's size 10 sneakers are blocking the doorway. xoxo

  14. Thank you for sharing your son with us makes me appreciate all those "little" things. Last night I found myself staring at him and had to get up just to give that extra hug

  15. Thank you once again for sharing Chris with us and giving me your inspiration and insight. I go home every night now and give more hugs, kisses, snuggles to my two boys. Last night I just laid down with both of them holding there hands with my eyes closed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wish you peace and strenght during your continued journey. Please keep writing!

  16. I wrote a response to you Regina, tears streaming down my face, and as a rookie to this google blog didn't think to sign in first. So it didn't publish...

    I don't know if I can recreate what I wrote. So I will start over.

    I walk through my days, still deeply affected by what happened and how in my home I did something like Anita did above. I talked to my 23 year old and my 17 year old over and over again. We are a close family, much like your's from what I'm reading and I never miss an opportunity to speak to my son and daughter about the importance of their actions, about how life can change in an instant. My son, a 7 year spine injury survivor knows this, but still thinks like a 23 year old. My daughter, a much deeper child, is turning into a mini-me and appreciates the little notes; the goofy texts, much like it appears Chris enjoyed with you and I have to say, that is what it's all about.

    When my husband complains about her music noise (which is 24/7) and I quickly remind him what it would be like if we didn't have that noise... he stops complaining.

    There was a story years ago about a young boy, who loved hockey, who died playing hockey. His parents longed for the day when he would be outside shooting the puck against the steps and it would hit the door with a horrific BANG and those were the things they would miss. That story stayed with me forever and I try never to silence my kids. My heart swells with their sounds, their rants, their quirkiness. I have written poems when I need to memorialize a moment, an instance, something that touched me so deeply, so your blog tugs at my heart strings, but also helps me because I walk through my days, working, driving my daughter places, and something will make me think of you and wonder how you are. Wonder how Deanna's parents are. I will not stop reading your blog, out of respect for you, because I'm hoping someone's reply will give you strength (which you already have so much of my dear), whether it be mine or anothers.

    God bless... and know through your healing, we are by your side. Although I don't know you, I just know I'm a mom who loves her children "too much" and love that you had a realationship with your children that mirrors how I chose to raise mine.

    Keep strong and your obvious faith has you going strong.

  17. Reg,
    Because of you and what you're going through...I think twice before screaming about homework that isn't done to my liking, laundry that's thrown on the floor instead of placed in the hamper, the usual screaming matches that sisters the big scheme of things the only thing that really matters is our kids health and happiness...everything else is just stuff...keep writing for you and for us...xo

  18. Regina,

    I am a mom of two wonderful boys, one of which is a senior and knew Chris. Please keep writing. Your words are beautiful and inspiring. They have helped me to try better not to take my boys for granted. And in response to yesterday's blog, I happily KNOW my sons's hands. God Bless. I look forward to reading tomorrow.

  19. Regina,
    Thank you for sharing your son Chris with us. You are truly an inspiration! I believe your angel Chris is holding your hand through this difficult time and is helping you teach others what true grace and faith are. May God Bless you and your family!

  20. Regina,you dont know me, but I have children who go to Shen. We have been following all of the touching tributes and stories about Chris and the others invovlved in this tragic event. I do not know anyone involved but as I read your blog I have had to stop several times because there are tears blurring my vision. I have three children two boys and a little girl and the stories you are sharing about Chris remind me so much of my own boys! I am so sorry for your loss, everything I have read and heard about Chris makes him seem like he was such an amazing young man, someone I would have been honored to know. As a mother of boys I can only hope to raise boys as wonderful as yours. Thank you for sharing your stories of him, you have handle this tradegy with such strength and poise! Know that even though we don't know each other I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, I hope for your continued strength and healing. Please keep the wonderful stories of Chris coming, I enjoy reading them. And if one day you do not have strenght lean on thosee wonderful people around you and your beautiful memories of Chris.

  21. Regina, I do not know you and do not have a connection to Shen. I grew up in the area (I went to Schalmont), and my family and I have been following this story very closely. I am 26yrs old with no kids yet, but you have truly inspired and touched my heart through your writing. The post on FB and your blog are amazing. I find myself reading them over and over everyday. They remind me that God and a pure heart can get you through anything. They remind me to be kind to people, for you never know what they might be going through.

    Your writing is so pure, genuine, and incredibly relate-able to anyone. You really have an amazing gift, and I hope someday you have a chance to write book. I too, believe that God has a plan for us, and reading your words has helped reinforce that in my own life. You are reaching so many more hearts than you might realize. I am all the way in Boston, and through your writing, I feel as though you are so close. Chris was so incredibly lucky to have you, and you him. When the day comes where I am ready to be a mom, I will certainly think of you, and hope I can be the kind of mother who truly 'knows' her child's hands. You are an inspiration to us all :)

  22. I don't know you personally, but from what I can tell you are an amazing woman. Such strength and composure in the face of this tragedy. I admire you. There are many in this community who have asked themselves nightly how they would handle this in their own life. I pray to God I never have to find out, but should I ever face such challenges I only pray that I am granted the grace to do it like you are. These are beautiful, heartwarming stories of your wonderful son. They keep his memory alive for you and allow us to get to know him. Thank you.

  23. What a wonderful talent you have - your words move people. I want you to know that after I put my daughter to bed last night, I went back in, held her hands for a long time, and took it all in. I look forward to reading more from you, and being reminded of why the little things are not so little. Thank you for sharing your gift with us - and the memories of the blessing of your son.

  24. Love,love,love reading your blog. Your words are so inspirational and encouraging. I lost my sister four years ago, and so much of what you have to say reminds me of how my mom feels each and everyday. Thank you for being so open and honest about your life. Most importantly, thank you for choosing to stay positive when so much of what you have gone through recently has been far from positive. Will look forward to reading more!

    Health and Happiness,

  25. I love reading your words and thoughts about Chris:) I hope we can speak soon as I was unable to speak directly to you at the service. Know that my thoughts and prayer will continue to be with you.

    Amy Moffre

  26. I couldn't wait for a quiet moment today so I could read your blog. Thank you so much for sharing. Your words give make me pause and reflect and value my children more and more each day.

    Thinking of you today and everyday.

  27. I am amazed at the eloquency of your writing, it truly is a gift. Although we have never met, I want you to know that you are not alone . Your beautiful son will never be forgotten and his legacy will live on. I too am the mom of two sons, one is 12 and the other 15, both go to Shen. We went to the vigil and I have to say it was insiring and life changing. After reading your entry from yesterday I was obsessed with my sons' hands. My younger one is also a linemen in jr. plainsmen and he too has sausage fingers, that made me smile. A lot of people refer to him as a big teddy bear, though an animal on the football field. Chris was his favorite player to watch at the games. I held his hand last night before he went to sleep. My 15 year old knew who your son was and remembers that he always seemed to be laughing or smiling with a group of people in the hallway. He has the long , slender fingers. Since the accident, he has come in every night and says " I love you mom" before bed. While he was watching ESPN lying on the couch I sat down and grabbed his hand and really felt it. His response was" ok mom, are we having a moment?" And I thought to myself , yes we are. Your ability to show such grace and poise is inspiring.As I came home from work today and tripped over my son's size 13 sneakers I smiled, a week ago I would be yelling at him to be more careful where he kicks them off. I know nothing will bring back your son, but know that he has, and will continue to impact so many in our community in such a positive way. I thank you for sharing pieces of him with us and look forward to more. May god bless and comfort your family.

  28. Your letter brought tears to my eyes. My son is 19 and he has done almost everything on your list. They may be big in size but will always be our baby boys. Continue to write and express your thoughts. I still pray for all you. May God watch over you and comfort you.

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  30. Mrs. Stewart,
    I didn't know your son, but hearing his relationship with Bailey has made me realize the value of my wonderful boyfriend, my family, my friends... ...everything. Thank you so much for writing this blog.
    I weep for the loss of two great souls and the emotional heartache that the 518 family is going through right now. As a Burnt Hills Junior, this has been a needed and appreciated reality check, although I wish we could have learned our lessons another way.
    Your blog will help me heal now after the death of several of my friends. Thank you so much for your posts. They heal not just you, but all others as well.

    I agree. Write the book. It will heal and make sure that the story of your remarkable son lives on forever.

    God Bless. Prayers to you, your family, Shen, Shaker, and the entire world. May he rest in peace, and may you find peace knowing that, someday, we will all meet again.

  31. Mrs Stewart,
    First I'd like to thank you for sharing your son through your stories. Though I do not know any of the families, I have been very touched by the story. I've shed many tears. Tears for Chris and Deanna and tears for Bailey and Matt and the long road ahead of them. You are a phenomenal writer. I hope you continue to write a little something about Chris and his life and little "quirks". I have 4 boys. My oldest boy, a junior at Troy High a varsity football player attended the vigil. I first read this post last night and I'm sorry to say, I do not KNOW my children's hands. Right after I read this, I went and held each one of my children's hands. I closed my eyes. My oldest boy has calluses on his hands from weight training for football. I've seen these calluses a million times and really only became aware of them last night. Of course all 4 of my boys thought I was crazy and that I was trying to play fortune teller.
    Thank you for opening your heart and helping some of us realize that we just need to spend more time. Like I said, I'm a Mom of 4 boys. I also work full time. Although I'm very active in their lives, I don't often find special quality private time with each of them. I promise to you and to myself, I will feel their hands everyday.
    I have been following the story and your letters. And I'd like to say 2 things: 1) I think you should have the party and 2) Please write the book. There could be no better tribute to Chris and it's clear writing about him helps make you feel better. I look forward to reading it.
    I hope you find peace. God Bless.

  32. I have connected with you in so many ways. The most prominent being the evidence of your "voice" as you wright. I think I hear every intonation, sigh, muffled tear and erupted laugh that does not transpose to writing. I like to write too and you sound like I do when I write. I envy your list. I'm sure I will acquire one too as my young sons grow (6&8). I took your advice and looked, touched and examined their hands. For me, I know their feet and the smell of their head the best. To each mom's own. I have greived for you from afar, mom to mom, and with the events in Connecticut my heart travels again. This "holiday" season will be such a challenge to be merry. You know, most of all. I think you might share my sentiment when I say there is a reason for it all and it will reveal goodness through heartache. Take care and God bless you and our family.

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  34. Regina-

    I would like to thank you for sharing stories of your Chris with us. I can't imagine the amount of grieve you and your family are experiencing during this troublesome time. I did not have the fortune of knowing Chris or anyone involved but I feel now as we come together as a community and celebrate their lives I have become to know them. I truly believe that you are one of the strongest people I know and one day I hope that our paths cross so we can meet and discuss the truly amazing son of yours, Chris. Your strength is truly inspiring to all of us and not only helps us to slowing heal the wounds but celebrate a well lived young life that has left a profound impact. I can't wait to hear more of your amazing stories about Chirs. I truly truly believe he walks among all of you throughout your day and is that guiding factor in your lives. Please feel free to contact me if you ever Ever need Your family and friends will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

    God bless,
    Kevin Murphy

  35. HI Regina,
    Thank you for sharing with us. I am inspired by your strength. I didn't know your son but as a Guilderland parent, I feel connected some how. Thank you for keeping this connection, for letting us in and helping us get to know Chris. He obviously made such an impact on so many people's lives, people he met and people who never had the blessing of meeting him. I look forward to your next entry. You're truly making a difference in many people's lives by doing this. You're reminding all of us to slow down. Thank you for that. You're in my prayers.
    Reva Kinnally

  36. Regina,

    Thank you again for sharing these stories about your son. Last night I asked my son to show me his hands and I held them.

    Last night, when he hopped off his school bus he did not know about the unthinkable tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. Before he was inundated by news, I sat with him and explained what happened. At the end I simply said, “We still need to live our lives without fear. There are good people in the world and you, your mom and I are three of them. Love will always win in the end.”

    Each day I try to think of something I am thankful for and your words are one of those things.

    You and your son will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

    Robert Clancy

  37. Regina, Thank you so much for this blog. There is something so real and comforting and sweet and honest about it. As a Shen mom of two boys, 20 and 17, you and I have probably lived parallel lives for the past 20 years. I feel very connected to your words. My son, Corey, is a Shen Junior--an athlete, a good kid, a wonderful son, one of the great loves of my life. You have made me even more grateful than I ever was for the little things...the details. So, thank you for bringing me back to the present--what greater gift is there?

  38. Regina,
    I simply smiled at each of the things Chris would do....I'm a 36yo mom to 2 kids 6 & 3....and I'm a bit of a kid myself as I could see myself doing the things Chris did. I hope you always hold those memories close to your heart. My mom has passed, almost 10 year now and haven't been able to share any of my life events with her personally but can always feel her close to my heart. You will never forget those special moments.

  39. With funerals underway for all he little souls in CT, I am hanging on your words for comfort and meaning. Please keep writing..... I look for it each morning.