Sunday, December 16, 2012

Who am I now?

 I've had my first few public events these past two days.  The tree lighting at the mall last night, the one mile scholarship walk this morning and a brief stop by the bottle drive this afternoon.  It was a good day, inspirational and truly uplifting.  People are kind.
Remember in my first blog I mentioned that people stood in line at the wake who didn't even know us? People that felt compelled to give a hug and share a tear.  People that want us to know they ache right along with us and don't know how to help or what to do.  Well people are stopping me just the same way today.  The hugging hasn't stopped.  I wonder, who the heck am I?

I'm just a mom like any of you with kids. Two weeks ago my son was alive and my world was simpler.  I moved about in relative obscurity and that was perfectly fine with me.  The world that knew me in Clifton Park consisted of neighbors, some SHEN parents, nearby family, high school friends I stay in touch with and my co-workers.  I'm sure my life was similar to yours.  I dare say it isn't anymore.  I now have a lot of friends all over the Capital District and beyond.  I have quite a few in Clifton Park, I met them these past two days! Do I prefer it? No quite honestly.  Do i like it? Yeah, its kind of nice, a bit overwhelming BUT I'd rather go back two weeks and stop time.  I cant do that though, life has thrown me a curveball, or maybe in football terms a Hail Mary?  I'd like to think I caught it.

I used to work behind the scenes in TV, I wasn't in front of the monitor and when I went to the diner nobody paid attention to me or my family.  Not like they do now.  I've heard many of you say I should keep on writing, that you like my blog.  I especially think you like that I told you to KNOW your kids hands. People have told me so.  That soothes me because I feel scattered inside.  I'm unsure if my thoughts come out in a straight enough manner that you might follow how my brain is processing.  I'm nervous to hit the send button but I need to.  I feel compelled to.  Not because I want you to read and like what I have to say but because I'm afraid if I don't keep talking I will forget.  I never want to forget my son, either of my sons, nor do I want to forget the things we did or who we were.  I don't want my old daily and weekly habits to vanish and be taken over by new ones that will soon become my "normal".  I hope I said that clearly. That was a tough one to put in words.

My life is not the same anymore, it changed two weeks ago.  I've been forced into a new world that I am not accustomed to.  I'd prefer the old one thanks.  I'm not sure i know how to manipulate this one and I'm not interested in the job.  Trouble is I'm smart enough to realize this is not a position that's negotiable, it's been assigned by a higher power.  I have to take it, like it or not.  Right now NOT, but believe me when I tell you that YOU help me accept it.  Please don't leave me. I feel you have my back as I sit here feeling vulnerable.  I need your energy and the comments you post because they reassure me.

If you asked my best friend Shannon if I'm a hugger she would laugh out loud.  She wouldn't giggle, she would give one "Ha!" with the roll of her eyes.  I'm a tough German, I'm stingy with affection, I'm not big on the touching thing beyond family... and that's usually only on the holidays. ;-)

(And here I wonder why Jeremy makes me work so hard to get close to him???) Jeez, how could I not have noticed that one years ago? I still plan to work on him a little harder though.  I hope you read that Jer.

Well anyway, in the past two weeks I believe it's safe to say that I have hugged easily 4,000 people. (Someone pick Shannon up off the floor please)... I am now a hugger!  OK, I'll take this job duty.  I can handle that one.  It's actually rejuvenating.  People pass good energy on to me, I feel.

But who am I now? Well I'm working on that.  My foundation feels shaky.  I may not be able to move around as privately as before but I like it that people know I'm Chris and Jeremy Stewart's mom.  I'm honored.  I'm so proud of my boys and I'm thankful I can share them with you.

Virtual hug!


  1. Who you are changes daily, and will continue to change. The luxury of being human is we have the ability to change. By the good things that happen as well as the difficult things.

    As I stood at the Saratoga National Cemetery yesterday honoring those I didn't know, by laying a wreath at their forever home, my thoughts were everywhere. To 2 weeks ago; to the escort I was present for, for Lance Cpl Anthony Denier, to the tragedy in Connecticut.

    As witness to honoring those KIA, I was witness to 3 soldiers who I did know, 2 through the stories of their lives lost and 1 because he was a neighbor of mine 23 years ago. Yesterday was a tough emotional day processing thoughts, but as I spoke to parents of fallen soldiers and listened to their strength now, I have faith, given your obvious strength as you write your blog and go through your days, that you will find who you are and it may change many times as you move forward.

    As I spoke to a father who is in the public eye for all he's done after his son's passing, I just listened and embraced the strength he was exhibiting talking about his son. The sadness he talked about for those parents who cannot talk about their lost child. All I can say is you were in the forefront of my mind and I spoke of you and commented about your blog and how I hope you continue. You are Chris and Jeremy Stewart's mom but you are also you, and you are pretty amazing. Don't forget that.

    You will find your way, and I know I will be here to help you, even though you don't know me.

    I will pray for you today and know God is listening.

  2. Good morning Regina. I am one of the many people who you don't know. I am the mother of 4 boys. I just can't imagine the heartache that you are experiencing. For some reason I note the time that you write your posts. No sleeping! I hope that things will get better for you. I wrote a comment on an earlier letter that you had written (before you started the blog). Not sure if you saw it. But my cousin was Grace that committed suicide a few months back. Her mom, Chris wrote you a note a few days ago. Anyway, just an idea for Chris' bday. Chris had a party for Grace along with a cake. We ordered balloons in Grace's favorite color and had the kids write a note on them then released them up to Heaven for Grace to read. Thought it was a great idea. Thinking of you always and sending YOU a virtual hug.

  3. Good Morning Regina! I too am one of the persons you do not know. My cousin's daughter Stephanie was one of Chris's teachers and I first learned of Chris and Deanna's story from her. I am not a hugger either. I reserve those hugs for whatever reason for those closest to me and like you they are not easily given out to those I know and love the most often enough. It feels a bit awkward for me and I am not sure why. I am happy that you are feeling comfort in the hugs you are receiving and I am sure you will be able to give those hugs back in time in confidence. Know that from near and far all of your new acquaintances are walking with you and holding your hands through this journey. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I will say a special prayer for you and your family at mass this morning.

  4. From one mother to another-God bless you.

  5. I like to think of hugs as the perfect size fits all, people don't mind if you exchange them and they are always returnable.

    Talk is cheap, but words spoken from the heart are priceless. Thank you for your priceless words.

  6. As a father of two sons the same age as Chris and Jeremy, one a senior at Shen and the other a junior in college, I wanted to let you know how moved I am everyday when I read your posts. Your posts are words of inspiration for you to use and share with all of us for mutual encouragement and we thank you for that.

    I know that no words can come close to healing the pain that you feel, but I wanted you to know that my heart goes out to you in this difficult time. From what I’ve learned, Chris was a young man of great strength and compassion and the world has lost a very special person.

    Chris will always live in your memories and your heart and I hope that by writing in this blog it will help you through the journey of restoring balance in your life.

    May there always be an angel by your side. HUGS!!

  7. As I lay here not able to sleep I think of you and your blog. I am at such a loss of words. You have shown such grace through your tragedy. You lift my spirits everytime I read something you wrote. I have 3 kids and my oldest is 18..... my only son. He is a Football player as well. He was in awe of Chris's skills, not only as a phenomenal athlete but as a person. Even though they were rivals on the field they were kind to each other, they had the opportunity to play together in the final Allstar game. Our boys talked briefly at the awards ceremony that Saturday afternoon. As I stood there watching them shake hands and pat each other on the back felt very proud. I could sense Chris's sincerity.
    My son called me the moment he heard of the accident. He was a mess. He is questioning his faith and asking me why? Why such good wonderful spirited kids like Chris and Deanna? As his mother I should have all the answers.....but I dont as I too am questioning my faith.

    You mentioned that you were not a hugger.....well I can relate. Besides my own kids Im not really into it either......but the night of the ceremony at Shen I sat in the bleachers across from where you were all sitting and I had the strongest urge to rush the field and give you the biggest hug! I think of you and your son everyday.....I pray for you to have strength and healing. I am so sorry for all that you have lost.
    I do take some solace in knowing that your beautiful son is among the little angels that just entered the gates of heaven.....he will be with them!
    Thank you for sharing with us all.

  8. Regina,

    I am in awe of your strength, grace and courage. I am a mom of four, one girl and three boys, ages 25, 23, 19 and 17. I find myself laughing and crying each day as I read your blog. Your stories of Chris remind me so much of my youngest two boys...the bumping, the shoes every where, so smart yet so dumb. I too know all four of my kids hands and it's something I've always known and when you wrote that it made me think, why do I know this. I know how different their hands are from each other just like their personalities. Like you, I'm also not a big hugger maybe that's the half German half of me.

    Your writing is very inspirational and I look forward to reading your posts each day. The link for the new posting is the first thing I look for on my facebook feed. I am sorry you and your family are going through this but I like many others "have your back". Each day I think of you and your family and I pray for you. As long as you continue to write, I will be here to read. Sending you lots of positive energy and virtual (( ))!!

  9. Your just like us. That's who you are. You have awake me an so many by your tragedy to take a minute with our children, to feel there hands. Your amazing and need to be easy on yourself and just be. Be whatever you need to be each day. Your amazing and just like us.

  10. Regina, you write with passion for your sons, you are honest in your feelings and you are able to put into words what is in the deep recesses of your heart. I read your blog as a parent who sees how you deal every day with this loss and I wonder if I could handle it the same way. I have younger kids, my eldest just started high school in the 9th grade. I only knew of Chris from articles about SHEN football in the Community News. From reading your blog, I feel like I knew him personally. Thank you for sharing your personal thoughts and feelings. I know that I will never forget Chris and I also know that reading your blog has been a spiritual journey for me. Thank you for that. I pray for you and your family daily and I am blessed to be able to get to know you through this blog. You are an amazing woman. I read how Matt and Bailey are wondering why they were spared, what does God have in store for them, I know that this blog is what God had in store for you. You are touching many lives and changing them for the better. God bless you!

  11. I did not know your children, however I felt in my heart I needed to do something to "brighten" your day, if that is even possible. I had a little idea a Tree, special angel ornaments, blue and green lights...... Then a name a Memory Tree.... Well... Friday my little idea came true, as we told our customers about the tree lighting that evening and about our FREE ornaments, the community again reacted. The ornaments started filling the tree and people wanted to give us donations....We never asked for donations. I had learned Bailey was in route, I turn to my daughter and said (does my hair look ok). That night I was out at the table, giving out ornaments and saw a sea of green coming our way, Yes, it was the Shen football team with Matt. Bailey was already here, in the store, warm, doing holiday ornaments, and playing with her cousins and our Snowman. I was overcome with happiness, and tears. I turned only to see you and your husband, and I realized my little idea, had helped in some way. The tree lighting was simple but sweet, I was so happy to able to give you, Matt, and Bailey a long, warm, hug, and simply say I am sorry... and Thank you........ I know grief is a day to day process, so I hope my event helped "brighten" your weekend. PS At the end of the night my daughter hugged me and said great job MOM, and Yes your hair looked great.....

  12. Regina, keep on writing! I know your pain. I know the need to talk of Chris and share his stories, to not want to forget him or to have others forget him. My son passed away 3 1/2 years ago shortly after his 24th birthday and although I had a tremendous amount of support from my family and friends my youngest and oldest son wouldn't talk about Adam, they would totally shut down because it hurt so bad they just couldn't talk about him. I wanted to talk about him, I needed to talk about him and they just couldn't do it. I needed something to take my focus off my unbearable, rip your heart out pain and to focus on something positive. So for me, my creative outlet was collage art. Keep on writing Regina!! I truly enjoy getting to know you, Chris and your family. You're not alone in this Regina, there are so many people out there who continue to pray for you and your family and I am one of them. Much Light and Love to you and your family! xoxoxo

  13. Sending many hugs and prayers. We'll never forget your son or you and the incredible strength you've shown!! Keep writing. Write the book about Chris and his life and his funny quirks. Maybe Bailey can help. I'm sure she has plenty of funny stories she could add as well. Find a way to smile. God Bless.

  14. Regina, you're display of courage, strength and love has helped me with my simple by comparison curveballs life recently handed to me...the loss of a job is nothing in the scheme of things. It seems so petty to even mention it compared to your tremendous loss but yet I feel I have to thank you for showing me that we must accept what happens to us in life but it doesn't mean we embrace it we simply find a new normal and a new way of continuing to move forward one step at a time until we don't have to remember to take the steps each day. You will do wonderful as you are sharing your grief, your love and your heart with others which will ultimately help you to heal and move forward. I hope your husband and son are doing as well in their healing process. Much thanks to you for sharing your thoughts with all of us ...many, like myself, that you don't even know. GOD BLESS YOU! Susan Murphy, Colonie

  15. Good Morning Regina!
    I'd like to think we are still the same people inside but it certainly changes outlooks you never really thought of (like the hugging). Feeling the love of so many and us listening to you is very comforting. This is very special and I thank you for that.
    Have a lovely day. Lela

  16. We do not know each other but I am reading your blogs and enjoying your thoughts-you are doing an amazing job putting them onto paper! I wish you peace <3

  17. Regina you inspire me so much. I am going through a difficult situation at the moment and telling my children everything will be ok, and on the inside I am not so sure of they will be. I read your blog faithfully everyday and by your strength and courage I believe that things will turn out ok. I wish I had half the strength and courage that you show on a daily basis. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers every day and will be always.
    Evelyn Spiak a Shen mom

  18. Regina, I do not know you nor do I have any ties to the accident however I feel compelled to comment on here. I am just a college student at Saint Rose and work in the Clifton Park mall, but my heart breaks for everyone involved in this tragic event. Each morning since you began writing this I have read it and been moved to tears. The messages you are sending, your thoughts, stories, advice, etc. are extremely powerful and inspirational. After I read each entry I continuously think the same thing, what a strong women you are. I just want to say thank you and please continue writing and sharing your journey with us! God bless you and your family!
    -Samantha Morency

  19. Hey Regina !!! First let me start by typing (((((((((((((((GIANT HUGS))))))))))))))))) !! The evening of the wake, I have to say my hug in line to you may have given you another moment of comfort, but it gave me a lifetime a appreciation. Appreciation for the strength God lives you when we are vulnerable, the strength to keep your thoughts on others and what they may have a moment of helplessness, the strength to go on and make memories instead of sadness. You are my inspiration ... I look forward to running into you soon.. and get that giant hug we both may need...please keep posting about you amazing boys. I look forward to your next post friend !!
    -- Laura Schilling

  20. Your strength is an inspiration for me. I am in the toughest situation of my life and was feeling like I should just give up when I started reading this blog. You've given me hope.
    Thank you.
    Your son has given me hope.
    Thanks Chris.
    This whole situation has reminded me that bad things happen but you can choose to accept or reject, "catch the hail mary" and take a chance, or let it hit the ground.

    You say you need us, but we need you too.

  21. I just wanted to let you know that I whole heartedly feel the same way as Samantha Morency. Who you are right now is a Mom trying to make sense of a personal tragedy. You are walking down a un-walked path and this path will be new and different, not always easy or pleasant. I have had loss in my life, loss of loved ones to cancer young and old. Loss and grief is process you have to go thru and experience to heal and move forward with your life. I have read about the grieving process and there are 7 identifiable steps a person goes thru. Some are quick to work thru some are not. The only thing I can offer is it takes time, time will heal the heart wrenching hurt but you will become a different person. You have a gift of writing from the soul, I too urge you to consider publishing your blog as a personal account of your ability to come to terms with what has happened to you and your family. You are succinct and eloquent. You may help others in the future to heal who can not put into words what they are feeling. I am trying to come to terms with what has happened in Newtown CT, I lived close to that town a few years back and can't fathom such tragedy happening there.

  22. Who are you? You are an inspiration...truly! I know your new "normal" will never be what you'd have chosen, but it is yours nonetheless. You are amazing for taking it and turning it into something kind and sweet and funny and smart and truly inspiring. Like a pebble thrown into a body of water, the new you is rippling out and changing the lives of people you will never know. Thank you and God Bless.

  23. Dear Regina,
    First I must say I am terribly sorry for your loss! I can't even imagine what you are going through. I have a child at Shen HS as well so although I didn't know your son, I was so saddened by this tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with you every day. I am glad to see you create this blog, if it helps you... wonderful! I think it helps all of us.

    The blog helps all of us to get to know about your beautiful son Chris. Please realize the tragedy happened and that's a small part of Chris' life, but the most important part is the 17 years that your son lived and everything he did. Keep sharing about the 17 important years. I truly believe that the afterlife is wonderful, because I have seen way too many wonderful people go too soon. Your son is in a better place! May that angel always be with you! MS

  24. by you doing the blog u inspire me to do one as well about my lil brother that passed away 10 years ago in a car crash . and i thank u for that you are a strong women .

  25. I feel like it would be unfair to read one more post and not offer a small condolence. I know my words cant touch how you feel , but our hearts ache over what is yours to carry on this journey of loss. We are praying that finding your new normals would come step by step, day by day and that your hearts would begin to mend. Ever since we watched the heartbreak unfold that Sat evening on TV we have prayed and thought about your families. I just lost my grandmother in August, she was very spiritual. When she passed I was given her Bible. She talked alot about the Angels she had seen over the years, she kept a list of some of their names on a white peace of paper cut out as a heart in her Bible.Some of the names were alittle wacky,,,Jospehdiekel, get the point, but they do exsist!!! Iam amazed about how the Lord in our grief allows them and our loved ones to appear. After she died I heard her voice, it was so calming and peaceful. I do not know you or your family, but please know this, we are committed to pray for all of you, in the Fathers name we ask Him to remind you kindly that Cor 2:9 states, "What no has seen, nor ear has heard, nor the heart of man imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." Remember Chris is only a heartbeat, a breath away from where you are to him...and love never dies. Thank you for sharing your heart, you are brave.

  26. My Dear Sweet Sister,
    Words cannot describe how honored I am being one of your brothers, and an uncle to Christ.opher and Jeremy. As embarrassing as it may be, you know I am to this day computer illiterate. Well, that's the stubborn German in me as a bricklayer to not get caught up in this crazy computer world, but that's changing now! With the help of my wife and daughters, they brought me your blogs and put them on a special spot on the computer where I can immediately gain access. I'm learning Gina, and I too will be one of your faithful readers now.Your writings are so beautifully powerful, they overwhelm me. I Love You!
    As a father of five, I cannot begin to understand what you're going through. Its so far beyond my imagination I just can't grasp it. I have a letter I wrote to you that I was unsure about giving to you, but after reading your blogs, I feel a little bit more comfortable now. As one of your older brothers, I was always under the impression that I was stronger than you. I learned I was wrong Gina, have taught me what being strong is. I think God has given you the tools to help heal a lot of hearts in your writings. May God Bless You, Christopher, Mike, Jeremy, Deanna, Bailey, Matt and all the family's and friends affected by this tragedy. Keep writing Gina...I Love You, Eddie.

  27. Regina,

    I am so proud of you and your strength. My daughter Carly went to SHEN. We didnt know Chris but have felt the pain of your loss. Keep writing, you are an inspiration to me. I started my own journal. I am writing things down about my daughter, not as a reminder, but to make me smile, just the way I do when you write about your son.
    I've had some hard hits in my life. This is what gets me through - God is with me, God is helping me, God is guiding me.
    thinking of you and your family at this time. God Bless

  28. Regina- I just want to send you a quick note letting you know that I've been checking your blog daily and find it very inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing. Virtual Hug!! - Sara

  29. Regina,

    There are no words to thank you for being so open and sharing Chris with us. As the mother of 2 boys my heart breaks for you, I admire your dignity and grace, you are in my prayers daily. I think of Chris often , I enjoy getting to know Chris through your memories, thank you from the very bottom of my heart for sharing, you have changed my perspective on parenting, I am grateful. I will learn not to sweat the small stuff and inhale every second of their being . Sending you prayers and admiration!!!

  30. your blog was inspiring again. today I read most of the comments as well and many of them brought tears of one point I was sooo teary eyed and my nose was so full that I didn't know if my nose was running from the crying or this cold I'm fighting. It made me laugh at myself and be thankful I was in the room alone so no one could make fun of me. :) thank you again for sharing your story. Your brother's words were beautiful as well, lean on him for strength, he seems to be a strong man.

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  34. I had posted about the famous "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" story, but I posted it over about three or four separate comments which I realized, after reading, that even when patched together, sounded confusing and didn't tell the story properly. (Like I said, I'd make a crappy town historian!) It was meant to be of comfort and/or give a smile or chuckle possibly to Mrs. Stewart or anyone else reading it, but it came out as a jumbled mess. This blog is about Chris, his family and friends, and healing for Mrs. Stewart - not a possible great, great (not even sure if I got the fact right on the number of "greats" there!) aunt through marriage. Blessings to you all!

  35. Regina, I love your blog. Thank you for sharing. I feel inspired to share this with you. "Remember, it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have NO power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation wherein if men build, they cannot fall". I know you're feeling those mighty winds and mighty storms. Don't let your foundation be weak, build it upon Christ. He is your personal Savior. You will not and cannot fall if you rely on Him. I hope that brings you some comfort.

    Much love, Haleigh Barrett