Friday, January 11, 2013

Reflections of Thursday...

I got home from the basketball games way too late to be able to concentrate on writing about them.  I was so tired plus I needed a little time for everything to settle into my brain and comprehend the magnitude of what happened.  I still don’t have my arms and mind wrapped around it but boy am I grateful it came together so beautifully!  There are so many people to thank for making it happen… I don’t know where to start – so once again I send every one of you a great big THANK YOU!
The varsity girls and boys basketball games were just so fabulous!  I can’t believe they were, in part, for my boy!  I kept looking over at the student section throughout the evening – right to the middle of the bleachers and the sea of green and blue shirts,  just knowing Chris would have been right there cheering.   
Then I thought, he WAS there cheering!  He has friends at Shaker as well as knowing just about everyone (of course) at SHEN.  Like me, he’d have been clapping for both teams as they scored – probably getting elbowed by his buddies for being neutral.  I had difficulty in figuring out the reason we were all there.

Chris would have been screaming for his cousin Zak, on the Shaker boys varsity team, as well as for another player, David whom Chris lined up against directly every time Shaker and SHEN played football.   
Dave plays multiple sports, very talented! Chris and David have blocked each other for three varsity seasons.  Both he and Chris made the football All Star team this year.   I’m sure Dave couldn’t hear me cheering, but I was.  I pointed him out several times to family around me, “Look! 42 played against Chris!”  There is something so dear to my heart in knowing he and Chris physically collided hundreds of times yet each extended a hand to pick the other one up off the ground.  How can football be a gentleman-like game?  It was for them.  But they meant business on the field.  The niceties came after.  I got to meet Dave’s mom after the game too which was wonderful.  I’ve also met Dave before at Zak’s house during family gatherings.
My nephew Zak presented me with the big $11,000 cardboard check between games.  Did you know that?  I wasn’t aware until I saw him coming towards me.  I really didn’t know what to expect of the halftime events although the Athletic Director did tell me ahead of time.  Having my nephew hand me a huge scholarship check on his cousins behalf and hugging me to pieces in front of everyone couldn’t have been nicer.  That was something!  It took me a second to realize it was him.  Zak and Chris were very close, especially as kids.   
They’re only two months apart and had many play dates as little guys.  Zak said he liked everything they did together with the exception of “Kill the Carrier” (yard football).  When Chris caught Zak it wasn’t pretty, I’m sure being tackled by a physically larger cousin was no fun!  Maybe that’s why Zak runs like the wind and moves like lightening???  I don’t blame you there Zak…  Chris put all his efforts in when he was focused – no mercy on the field!  
I’m inspired and in awe of the money raised for the scholarships but I don’t think I can grasp it.  I know I don’t at the moment.  It’s for my son???  No way, can’t be…  Imagine how you’d feel???  It’s only been about forty days.  I can’t get used to my new role in the community and how it relates to my life.  I can’t believe Chris is gone.  It blindsides me like a two by four.  One minute I’m doing fine, I feel as though I understand what’s happening and the next I just can’t comprehend it.  My mind and heart won’t let it be so.  But all of these fundraisers and community events where we come together and rally around one another is so helpful and meaningful. You keep me on my feet all the while you’re telling me I inspire you? I’m so thankful!  Of course I don’t want things to be this way but all of you help me so much.  Chris belongs to all of us.  I feel he’s a phantom spokesperson to bring people together.  He’s the culmination of all that is right.
I was mentioning to my friend Shannon last night that I have been wondering if Chris is being molded into something bigger than he is.  I don’t want him to morph into anything more than “Chris”.  He was a genuinely nice kid. He portrayed good qualities and leadership skills.
He was goofy and funny.  I can’t think if one person who cringed or tried to hide if he was in sight, he was welcomed everywhere. If losing him makes us stop and be better people then I love that!  I just don’t want us remembering him as if he had no flaws.  God has no flaws, the rest of us carry some.
I try to lean on Chris when I miss him.  When I wonder why this happened.  I talk to him and ask him to watch Food Network with me, to travel in the car with me, have a seat at the table when I’m eating and be near me just because I want him close.  Maybe you do that too – whether with Chris or someone you lost.  It’s very comforting.

In any event, please remember that Chris was a regular guy.  A special one I admit, even an earth angel maybe – but he was as regular as you and me and that’s how I’d like him to remain.
Thank you for reading.


  1. I wish I could have made it to the games with a few of my rowing friends. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. I'm glad it went so well though. That kind of support must feel so amazing.

    I'll try talking to my loved ones and asking them to be with me. It hadn't occurred to me before.

    As always, lovely.

  2. I watched the video from the half time events. I could feel the love and support from the community for Chris and Deanna. They will never be forgotten. What a way for a community to pay tribute to 2 great and loving young people. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Once again thank you for sharing.

  3. Regina, I read every entry in your blog. My heart breaks into a million pieces, as I have a son the exact age. I know it could be any one of us at anytime. You have taught me to savor every moment, not sweat the small stuff, and to tell my kid I love him any chance I get. I pray you continue to feel peace in your heart.

  4. How beautiful.. I am sure the game was so special and I am so glad that you have the support (of me) and so many people.. you deserve it. Every entry makes me feel like I know Chris more and more. Have a good weekend, Regina!

  5. Aunt Gina-
    With all of the gatherings and tremendous outpouring of support, I can't help but think it's all because of what you said at the end. He was just that, a spectacularly normal kid. One who conducted himself the way normal kids should. All four were doing what normal teenagers do, and just happened to be victims of an abnormal atrocity. This is truly what I think the community recognizes. This could have happened to anyone else's normal child, brother, sister, friend, cousin.. And does everyday. Our Hilltown community alone has lost more young lives than you can count on one, maybe even two hands in the last decade, primarily to vehicular accidents, a couple being very close friends of mine. All having wake lines many hours long, as Chris and Deanna did. None though having garnered such a magnitude of community outreach. There is a peculiar uniqueness to this incident that has really moved an entire population of people to rally in support. I can't say why exactly, but I haven't a doubt that although Chris was normal, he was obviously very special as well.
    Much Love,

  6. I think you are on the right track with your thoughts, particularly trying to put your feelings as a mom in the context of the magnitude of what has happened to you and your family in just 40 short days. Time will be an important element in sorting everything out, both the good days and the bad, and your definitely seem to be gifted with the right temperament to handle what will undoubtedly be rollercoaster of emotions. While there is solace in knowing that Chris will live on larger than life in the 518, it's important to know that a part of him will always belong to you exclusively and singularly alone...the precious baby your birthed and brought home from the hospital and the "regular kid" that in your heart he will always be.

  7. Regina. I was at the game with you even though you didn't know I was there. I was so happy to see how close you and Bailey are. That is really good for both of you. You say you feel Chris around you. I believe you. My mom passed away not long ago. Just today I felt her around me giving me a sign that she approved of where my life was going and that I was going to be ok. I'm finally on the right path! Nothing like a moms comfort and wisdom!

  8. As I have said many times your son reminds me of what my 13 year old will be in 5 years.we had the pleasure of sitting in front of favors they cheered for a young man I asked which one he was the told me number was funny BC moments before my husband and I looked at each other and said that will be our Ben some day.
    Hopefully he will decide to go back to football BC without him realizing he was pretty decent.

    We can only hope that our Ben turns out as great as your Chris seems to have.he had a good life.lots of friends,funny,compassionate and knew how to enjoy life.small world my daughter went to school with your niece Ashley and told her mom how much my Ben seems to be a younger version of your son.boy I hope we are that blessed later in life with him

  9. Good Morning Regina!
    What a special night Thursday must have been. I am inspired and in awe by your graciousness and bravery. What a tribute the games were to Chris and Deanna. As parents you all should be so proud of the children you raised. I pray that their examples will carry through to others. I believe their passings were not in vain. They brought a community together and dialog of how we all should conduct ourselves while driving. I pray these lessons will not go unnoticed.
    May God Bless You and Yours!

  10. I spent the last 35 minutes writing a response to you (by the time this is done it will be far longer). I fell asleep last night, with a lot on my mind after I read your blog, and woke up thinking about what to write back. After writing, editing, reading your blog again, I clicked on something and lost what I wrote... I guess it wasn't meant to be sent! It was heartfelt, even written and rewritten (hence the 35 minutes) and now it's gone.

    Sometimes technology gets the best of me.

    Regina, all I can say is that what has been happening over the last 41 days is not making Chris bigger than he was. It's showing communities, at a loss, that are so eager to support you (and the Rivers, Hardy and Winds families) and show our compassion, who Chris was (for those of us who did not know him) and guiding us towards remembering who he was, not how he was taken. Your blogs have shared so many wonderful memories of Chris, so many beautiful moments with a child who is the same age as my child, and I feel is trying to make us forget how he was taken. I'm the type of person that would prefer to dwell on the good and your blog is allowing those of us that care, to have that opportunity with you and your family. We wept for your family, and still do at times, but now we also giggle and sometimes laugh with what you share. That's just amazing, don't you think?

    You asked us how we would feel. As a Mom, I can't answer that. I can tell you how I felt when my son was forever changed due to a spine injury, at the hands of someone else's negligence. I can tell you how I felt when I was left, 3 months pregnant to raise my daughter and son on my own. I can tell you how I overcame those... because those are my stories. I can tell you though, that I have, like most probably have, tried to put myself in your place, and all I can say, is that I hope, knowing how special my children are, that the outpouring of love would be there for us. We all walk in different circles and our kids are so amazing, they touch the lives of others in ways we surely don't know, and I hope the support would be there.

    With Shen and Shaker alone, you have a student population of over 10,000 (k-12) and families tied to that, that undoubtedly know about what happened. Then you have the high schools from Shen and Shaker obviously filled with a large number of passionate kids who all saw what happened to their friends and had their eyes opened to the reality of what can happen to anyone. Everyone is just rallying together to heal. Those that knew Chris and Deanna for obvious reasons, and those of us who have kids who would want the same love, respect and compassion, should the roles ever be reversed.

    I couldn't be at the basketball game, but did watch the last 4:40 minutes on the t.v. when I got home, and it made me wish I could have cancelled my meeting and been there, but I wasn't meant to be. I can only imagine how overwhelming and heartwarming it all is at the same time.

    Thank you for sharing your son with us and know that in some small way, we only want to help you and your family by showing support. I cannot imagine how overwhelming it is, but reading your words, seeing the pictures, and absorbing what is happening, the only way to process this is that this is the way it is meant to be. You said in one of your first posts that you did not want Chris to be forgotten and that's why you are writing. I don't think Chris would ever let that happen. He touched so many lives and the ripple affect from that is what you are witnessing every day, I'm sure of it...

    God bless...

    P.S. start to finish, I have been at this computer for over an hour now!

  11. It was such a privilege for me to be at those games on Thursday night. I don't know any of you, and only saw a few vaguely familiar faces. It was an incredible night. My two children were with me. They are very aware of what happened, even if they don't quite comprehend the gravity of it. But for some reason, they really get into this communal effort to support you all. As much as I do. And I'm glad that in a few years, when they walk through the H.S. and see those banners, they'll remember this night, and they'll remember what a community can do. Chris and Deanna may not have been superheros, but they were obviously exactly what they were supposed to be- great kids. I have been told by some teenagers things about Chris that are just like what you describe- always a smile, always friendly, always a cheerleader. We all wish that this had never happened, and that he was here. But I hope that you can take some solace in what he has inspired in us all.

  12. Regina, yesterday I took a half day so I could go on a recruiting trip with my husband. ( he is the coach who is recruiting your nephew Zak,I mentioned it to you at the game Thursday ) before I left to go home ( I work in Averill Par and live in Latham) I ran into the post office, there was a postal carrier talking to the clerk, I only caught a bit of their conversation, he said " yeah, my wife reads it everyday, she reads it to me sometimes, you should read it, it is very good, I think you will enjoy it" I looked at him and said "excuse me, are you talking about Regina Stewarts blog?" He was! We then talked for a bit about it, and your blog today just blows my mind, that is exactly what we said, we loved how you have not elevated your son to be this flawless, perfect, never do wrong kid. You have painted a very accurate picture of a typical teen-age boy. I think that is why so many people are able to relate to your blog. You have NOT built Chris up to be anything more than who he is, Chris Stewart average guy, very likeable, respectful, goofy, playful,talented, forgetful, 100% lovable and not a God. You allow everyone of us to see our children in your son, you allow us all to take a look at the quirkiness of a teen, and appreciate the flaws in our own children, you help us embrace our difficult moments with our kids,,and appreciate that we can still have those difficult moments. Thank you for keepin Chris a boy and not a God, thanks for not keeping his imperfections from us! We all can relate and appreciate it. Chris has become a child to us all, because we all have Chris's in our lives.

    Thursday night was lovely, It was a beautiful tribute to very deserving kids! It was a fun night filled with emotions and hopefully some healing. It was a very respectful tribute and the atmosphere was playful, even though there was a game going on, the rival competition was not evident. The playfulness of the students was fun, the few chants the shared back and forth harmless and so typical, and the dedication so well done. Deanna and Chris will be forever remember in the Shen sports of softball and football, very very beautiful gift?

    I am so impressed with the scholarship money raised it is mind boggling. I am just so completely impressed with the community and their support. You should be very proud of Chris, it is because he is a regular guy that so many are willing to support the scholarship fund, we all see him as one of our own! And the same goes for Deanna, she too has similar traits to Chris which we as parents can relate to in our own teens! God Bless

  13. I think one of the reasons I'm drawn to your blog is because of the similarities I find between Chris and my youngest two kids, both boys, aged 19 and 17. In your writings I don't see him morphing into something bigger, I just see a mom, as a way of healing, sharing herself, her son and her memories with us. I laugh, cry and as others have said look at my life a bit differently. I think Annie143 said it best in her comment above.

    I think because of the similarities in our lives and our kids it is another reason I'm drawn to your blog. Being my sons played football against your son, my youngest son is 17 and a senior at Shaker, this just hit so close to home for me. One of those "there but for the grace of God" go I moments...every teenage parent's nightmare had sadly come true for a family like mine.

    Your writings are beautiful, heartfelt and usually ring true to my life. As Annie143 said "because we all have a Chris in our lives"...and I know I have two of them!

    I think it is awesome the community raised so much money for the scholarships! It speaks to the great children Chris and Deanna were and to their memories as well as to the wonderful parents who raised them.

  14. I too am a Shen/sports mom of 2 boys. I always look forward to reading your thoughts...after seeing the video from last night's game & seeing how your hugs laster longer, your rubs on the back..( you doing the rubbing :), I think you've taken on a healing role for people, you being the healer.
    No one thinks your Chris was perfect...especially those of use with teenage boys :)...but we know he was your perfect boy. I know I now take the time to notice more of the physicallity of my boys after reading about Chris' hands.
    I think about Baily often. I've been with my husband 25yrs this year, I was a teenager when I met him & fell head over heels. I can't imagine the pain she is in missing him & missing what the future would have been for them. She's so lucky to have you being so welcoming & nurturing to her...she is so blessed to have that to help her heal.
    My family suffered the tragic loss of a 17yr old many years ago. My 17yr old cousin was killed in a car accident during the school day so, although I cannot fathom your pain, I can understand what a family might go through in some small way.
    I am the chairperson for Clifton Park Youth Hockey Ways & Means. This year we're doing our Coaches' Charity game in honor of Chris & Deanna & will be donating the $$ to the scholarship fund. I look forward to that night & hope we get to meet. xoxo God Bless

  15. I'm so sad I was not able to attend Thursday night's game. My husband had surgery to repair his torn ACL earlier that day. He told me to go ahead and bring the boys to the game but it didn't feel right to leave him. I did watch the halftime clip, very emotional. I love how you created your own shirt and included both green and blue!

    just like everyone else has said, I think you show us your son as you see him through your eyes. your relationship with him is what draws me to your blog. It's an open and real relationship, one I hope to have with my sons when they are teenagers.

  16. Dear Gina,
    Thank You so much for sharing this story with us, sorry for the late response, catch up day today for me. The energy and love and support fealt at the game is hard to put in words, it was simply incredible, amazing. 3,300 people came to support the families and schools, but I'd bet ten times as many were sending their support in thought and prayer. I share your writings and my thoughts everyday with Chris and Deanna on my drive to work. I thanked them both Friday morning for who they are, and how they have brought so many of us together now, and all the positive things that have taken place. I placed Deanna's softball button I got at the game right beside Christopher's picture on my visor, so now I have two angels with me everyday.
    I unfortunately had to leave at halftime and missed out on a spectacular second half, but I caught up to it with the news and articles in the papers, and would like to say " Way to go Zak!" What a great game! I have no doubt in my mind both Christopher and Deanna were right there, and the tribute paid to them as well as Bailey and Matt, and the checks presented to both families will always be something we'll all cherish, it was absolutely beautiful. Please don't fear that Christopher is being morphed into anything other than who he is, just a great kid with a great big heart, and a role model who probably wasn't even aware of how much influence or admiration was bestowed upon him, because after all, he was a regular kid. I so look forward to reading your stories everyday Gina. Please take the time to write at your leisure, as mentioned, if you feel up to it, and don't feel pressured into it, please. The pictures you always share give so much meaning to your writings, Thank You, they tell their own story. Always In My Thoughts And Prayers, Love You, Eddie

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  18. Gina,
    I have been reading your posts every day and learning about Chris and you. I find them so touching and beautiful. I always want to write a comment and never feel like I can respond as beautifully as you write. It has been on my mind that I wanted to reach out to you and let you know how all the families and kids have been in my and my family's thoughts. Most evenings I sit down and tell my husband and kids what you wrote about that day. They love hearing about Chris. My son is a Jr. Plainsman and Chris worked with him 2 summers ago. My son loved going to watch him play. So, I selfishly enjoyed your posts, but never put myself out there.... I got a couple of days behind on your posts and today, when I saw Friday's post, I knew I had to respond. My daughter plays basketball for Shen and she is in your picture (#30). That was my sign to finally respond to you. We thought that Thursday night was a sad and beautiful evening. I am happy that you all have been embraced by these two wonderful communities. I hope you feel our support and love.