Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christopher's Room

Can you think of the place where you might go for comfort?  A familiar, safe place to decompress, relax your shoulders and your mind and just be... Do you have a place like that?  It could be your car, your garage, your basement, your closet or the bathroom tub for all I know.  Mine has always been my bedroom but lately it's been Christopher's room.  It's very inviting.
We always joked with Chris that his room had a funky odor.  That's because he loved to play his video games with the door closed and the blinds drawn.  It was his man-cave and it was dark and airless in my opinion.  That Xbox throws some heat!  Chris sometimes left his stinky sneakers on the floor along with fermenting clothes in his hamper.  It didn't bother him, he didn't even notice.  He'd keep a 24 pack of water under his desk to keep hydrated.  I see why, there was no circulation or fresh air.  I opened the roman shades and windows as often as I could!  When he would leave for school in the morning I practically ran in there to yank open all three windows.  I felt it needed fumigating.  I'd come home from work at 5:30 and it would all be closed up again.  We played this little game daily.  Turns out we both got what we wanted.  He probably got a kick out of it, or at least I'd like to think so because I know I did in reverse...
Upon his passing I found myself constantly in Chris's room.  I wanted everyone to spend time there.  I don't know why, I think it was because I felt everyone could understand Chris just a little better if they were in his space.  I KNOW he's still there often.  It's HIS private domain.  He loved his room.  It was painted SHEN green and it has a window seat where his friends would sleep overnight.  Of course the window seat has now been turned into a display case of all his trophys and things but it used to be used as a single bed.  
A sleeping bag and a pillow and his buddies were all set.  I'll bet a dozen kids or more slept on that hard wooden window seat, each multiple times.  The funny thing was, right next door was Jeremy's bedroom with a huge bed.  The boys wanted to stay together though, so Jeremy's room went unattended unless we had a full house of kids and they'd spill over into the next room for sleeping purposes.

Interestingly enough, about two years ago Chris got a new mattress.  There are probably some of you right now in the same boat I was.  Chris grew and grew over the years yet he never got a bigger bed.  It wasn't on purpose, it just never occurred to me.  It looked fine, wasn't oddly shaped or anything like that but the poor kid’s feet hung off the end!  He used to sprawl out on MY tempurpedic bed and refuse to get up.  He always seemed to do it at bedtime when I was exhausted and not very playful.  He could push my buttons with a smile on his face.  And oh my God was he like a giant boulder to move.  He'd lay there spread eagled, arms and legs basically draped to all four corners and sigh "aaaaaahhhhhhh!!" happily.  He got the biggest kick out of me yanking with all my might to drag an arm or a leg off the bed in a feeble attempt to move him onto the floor.  I never won.  Not even close.  He would exhaust me to the point I was sweating.  I wouldn’t even be tired anymore because he got my blood racing.  Sometimes he'd make me so mad I swear I wanted to cry like a baby because I was so infuriated.  He got me when I was tired and wanted to crash and he knew it.  He'd bug me till a certain point and then relent and leave.  Sigh.  I'd like to do that all over again.  

So, during the week of making funeral arrangements the house was very busy with family and friends.  I mentioned my friend Colleen from Iowa?  Well she stayed in Christopher's room while she was here.  She was pleased I asked her to.  I was kind of afraid she'd think I was nuts at the suggestion but she knew him so well as a child that she embraced the idea so we cancelled her hotel and dragged her luggage upstairs.  I liked that a lot.  I like sharing Chris and I loved having my friend here.
Bailey comes over quite a bit.  She takes the best naps in Chris' room.  We crank the electric blanket and she conks out.  There's a peacefulness to his space.  Chris was very kind and gentle.  He was big but he was a softy.  His room gives off that aura.  Bailey and her sister were here last week, went into his room sobbing and came out giggling.  How does that happen?  It's Chris.  He has a way of making us feel good.
Chris's room is no museum.  We hold and touch his pictures and awards.  We watch his TV, sit on his bed and sort through his dresser and closet.  Many of his tee shirts and clothes have been shared with his friends.  They come over regularly and hang out in his room.  I hear them laughing and sharing stories.  I've had visits with his coaches and can't wait to bring them upstairs.  I believe when they see his space they better get to know him.  Our family priest came over to bless his room and ashes too.  Chris's remains sit on his dresser in a marbled dark green urn.  There's no place I'd rather him be than safely in his room.  We often said Chris didn't bleed red, he bled SHEN green.  It's apparent after the briefest visit. by anyone.  I've had e-mails and texts that confirm it from those who've spent time there.  Coach Clawson told me he felt comfort and peace after being here.  It's a soothing space, warm and bright with big windows that face west and catch the afternoon sun.

Last weekend Matt Hardy got the chance to see it.  He's able to climb the stairs now!  I was so happy to finally have him over.  He's never been here.  He and a few of the football players spent what seemed an eternity in Chris' room.  It made my heart glad.  I know it made Chris glad too.  I believe that room is a place of healing.  It certainly rejuvenates me.
I hope that you have a spot where you can let your guard down.  Someplace you can remove your coat of armor and be off duty from the world,  warm and inviting place just to sit and let your mind rest a while.  I hope you have a room like Christopher's.

Thank you for reading.


  1. Regina, thank you again so much for writing this blog every day. I pray every morning for you that you will have the strength to get through another day. I have no idea how you do it but you do and I firmly believe you are a class act! This whole experience, Chris & Deanna, the Newtown children have had a tremendous affect on me. Such beautiful, perfect children who represented nothing but the best. I am determined to make every day matter, to smile more and be thankful always. While I think I am nice and helpful to people all the time...out of respect for all of these children, I make it a point to pay forward every single day. I do it in honor of them and you. You are truly one of a kind!

  2. Regina:
    You are such an inspiration. Thank you thank you thank you for writing. I read your blog and so enjoy your words, your strength, the love for your family and your resilience. God Bless.

  3. Regina thank you once again. I start my say reading your blog everyday and it inspires me so much. I feel I am a better person. My thoughts and prayers are with you always. God bless.

  4. Hi Regina.

    I read your blog every time you post, although I usually do not leave a comment. My heart truly aches for you and your famiy; just when it seems that you need comforting, your posts seem to comfort those who are reading. I have never met you or Chris, but I feel as though I have known you and him for a very long time. Your strength is unwaivering. God bless you.


  5. Good Morning Regina!

    Thank you once again for sharing Christopher with all of us! What a wonderful thing you are doing for Bailey and the others that were close to Chris to allow him to bring comfort to them from his "space". You truly are remarkable. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours. I like the others read your blog first thing in the morning. I am in awe of your strength and your ability to stay so close to everything that was and is Chris. Comfort is a wonderful place. I am going to be thinking today where is my comfort place.

    May God Bless You!

  6. I have that kind of place... it is a cabin in the Adirondacks on a lake - rich in spirit, smells, quiet, and connecting (and is now closed for the winter!). I offer it to you and your family if you find that it will help in your process of healing. Keep it in mind and reach out to me. Take a week, a weekend, or even a day. It would be a gift to me to have your spirit bless our home. Feel free to reach out to me on FB should you wish to take me up on this offer come the spring/summer.

  7. There were not tears reading you blog today. Only smiles, I am so happy both, Bailey and Matt were able to share Chris' space. I know Bailey loves it but I'm sure it gave Matt some comfort, too. I am happy you have a wonderful place to share with Chris when you need his comfort. You are still in my thoughts everyday.

  8. Regina, I don't know how you do it. It's so commendable how you've allowed "Us" to share this experience. To get that close to you. To get that close to Chris, to allow us to see his room. To feel like we are in his room right along with you. To mention his ashes. To tell us where they are in your home. To allow others to touch his things. I'd be afraid I'd lose his smell. I know you joke about the "funk" but his normal smell etc.

    I'm so proud of the mother that you are to share all of the wonderful things both your children do or did and allow us to see unfold. I thank you for that. It brings me comfort.

    With love!

  9. I don't go in my kids' rooms often (for an extended amount of time) because we are so busy and it's their space, but how interesting (coincidental) is it that last night I sat in my son's room for well over an hour, reading a book and snuggling with our dog on his bed (the other rooms in the house were occupied and I didn't want to go upstairs). I wanted some alone time.

    When my eyes got tired from reading, I just sat there looking at his pictures, memories and trophies from track and baseball from years ago, trying to remember what it felt like when he received them. And reminiscing about how all his sports dreams were taken from him so quickly, playing backyard football, to never play sports again. The picture of Bailey caught my breath (my son still has his same neck brace in the closet - the halo got thrown away!), and I never asked him why he kept that blue and white neck brace. He doesn't like to talk about his injury and 16 months of recovery but it changed him. Sitting in his room last night, I reflected on how it changed him.

    He's 23 and still lives at home (post college graduation) while he's saving money to go out on his own. I'm in no hurry for him to leave. He has the opposite work schedule of us and honestly there's no reason for him to pay a huge rent bill to just have his own place to sleep. He's making changes though and getting closer to being independent. But like Chris, my son's room (his mancave) is much like you described with Chris' room. I tend to tell him to open up the windows it smells like a locker room. I actually get excited when I occasionally come home on his day off and see him in our living room. He says he is spending time with the dogs :)

    This morning, I was having a harder time than normal waking up my 17 year old for school (that nasty cold just wants to linger) and I got on her bed with her and looked at all her bagpipe awards and music awards and commented to her that she needs more wall space for all her honors. I just laid there listening to her trying to wake up and thinking about all the memories that were shared with all those ribbons in just the past 3 years. I used to go in there and open her blinds to let the light in, but have stopped doing that because she has a phobia. She hates that since her room is on the ground floor, that anyone can walk up and look in her window. To my knowledge no one has done that, but it's a potential, so she has the windows locked up tighter than tight and the blinds drawn all the time. I try to respect her wishes, but occasionally I will go in and open things up for a bit when she isn't there just for the fresh air aspect.

    And then came your blog... I didn't have you on my mind when I was in his room last night, or her room this morning. The timing just caught me off guard with your blog entry today. I'm glad last night and this morning I sat in their rooms reflecting on their stories, their hopes, their dreams and even their rough times and there have been many. I didn't realize what I had experienced, until I read your blog after the fact.

    Some day, maybe if it's meant to be, I will meet you and share more of our stories. This blog entry today was beautiful and tugged at my heart strings. I don't know if it was because of my events last night and this morning, or just because of the pure honesty and open-ness of it.

    God bless...

  10. I love this room! I am sure when my son gets older his room will look similar. He is in fourth grade and already loves football. He started this year playing flag and can not wait to play tackle. When he heard the news of the accident he was very sad because he knew Chris was a star. I know he hopes one day to follow in his foot steps and become a star at SHEN. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. I look forward to reading them every morning. Its the first thing I do when I get to work and open my computer. I hope you never stop posting you are inspiration to me and so many others.

  11. Thanks again for sharing. I love Chris's Room and I am glad it is a place of comfort for you. What a great way to remember and connect.

  12. Your kindness and strength are boundless, Mrs Stewart. I love reading your blog and getting to know you and your family. Thank you again for sharing these experiences with us.

  13. Thank you for sharing your son with all of us. In his passing, you have brought him alive to so many people who would've never known him. God Bless!

  14. Regina - your blog touches my heart and soul daily. Even though this is the first time I have written each day I think of your family, the inspiration you provide and the feeling you share. This inspires me to work towards ensuring I spend more time with my family and less time on my worries, work, bills, etc.

    Love, Hugs and Peace to You and your Family!


  15. Each time I read your blog I think to myself that was my favorite one and then the next day I read and that is my favorite I like them all. I think it is really cool Christopher's room was Shen proud!! I am happy Bailey comes over and lays in his bed even if it's just a cat nap it's probably the best sleep she is getting. Thank you so much for sharing Chris with us <3

  16. Regina, I'm not sure if you have ever read this poem but I'd like to share it with you.

    Death is nothing at all.
    I have only slipped away to the next room.
    I am I and you are you.
    Whatever we were to each other,
    That, we still are.

    Call me by my old familiar name.
    Speak to me in the easy way
    which you always used.
    Put no difference into your tone.
    Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

    Laugh as we always laughed
    at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
    Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
    Let my name be ever the household word
    that it always was.
    Let it be spoken without effect.
    Without the trace of a shadow on it.

    Life means all that it ever meant.
    It is the same that it ever was.
    There is absolute unbroken continuity.
    Why should I be out of mind
    because I am out of sight?

    I am but waiting for you.
    For an interval.
    Somewhere. Very near.
    Just around the corner.

    All is well.

  17. Regina, you are an awesome inspirtation to everyone that reads your blogs. Your knack for writing just is unbelievable. I think of you often and read your blogs daily. You are an incredible inspirtation for all that know you and for those that don't. Keep on writing.


  18. God Bless You Mrs. Stewart. I have read almost all of your blogs and am blown away by your strength and courage. I have been keeping you, Jeremy, the Rivers family, Bailey and her family, and Matt and his family in my daily thoughts and prayers. I am so deeply sorry for your loss, but also so thankful to hear you write about how you feel Chris with you. Thank you for sharing your heart with us - I feel so blessed to be learning about your beautiful son Chris and your stories and thoughts always give me alot to think about. Thanks also for counting me and others who may not have had the privilege of knowing you and Chris until now,as new friends. :) You are an inspiration to all of us.

  19. You share so much of yourself and Chris with us. I feel guilty that I love every single thing you share and you know next to nothing about me. So then I want to share my life with you but then feel guilty and sad that my life is pretty good and I have my family with me everyday. thank you yet again for sharing. I take none of it for granted.

  20. Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your precious, beautiful son with us. I love getting to know your son through your eyes. Please keep writing, I look forward to reading about your thoughts. Please know you and your family are in my prayers constantly~

  21. I follow bailey on twitter and seeing the pictures she posts makes him feel so alive. It feels hard to believe that he's gone. I want him to come back for the both of you, more than anything. I know this will not happen but knowing that his spirit will be with you forever gives me comfort.