Saturday, January 12, 2013

So how am I?

So, everyone wants to know how I'm doing.  I thought I'd share things as I see them right now (subject to change of course - depending on the hour)...

Well, there's no straight forward way to "be".  All people are different, as are temperaments, ways of processing and degrees of reaching out.  I only speak for me at all times, which is why I use "me, my and I" when I write to you.  I never want to talk on behalf of my family because although I may know what they're feeling - they are not me and I have no right to speak for the group.  I know I've mentioned that before but I think it's important to reiterate.

How am I??? Basically, in my opinion, I'm very good.  I would say 80% of my day is fine.  I function with an upbeat attitude and go through the course of my day normally.  Things are very different now in many respects but I give myself props for keeping as normal a schedule as possible. I'm back to work, I've been to the grocery store, the car wash, restaurants and I even ventured to the Racino with family today.  I won $11 on the roulette machine and had a margarita.  That was good.
What's routinely different?  Each morning I head to Christopher's room and rather than be sure he's awake for school I rub my hand over his SHEN green urn and say good morning. Good but bad... Bad of course that he's not here, tragically so.  I miss him desperately.  It totally sucks.  Good?  Yes there is a bit of good here... I chose to keep him at home.  Best decision I ever could have made in a topsy-turvy time that needed a fast decision.  There’s not a lot of time when a loved one dies to choose what to do with the body... I can't be thankful enough for that one.  
Keeping him nearby means everything to me.  There is no cemetery close enough to my heart to place my son.  Not even the one where my father lies.  It's not close enough for me to get to him plus he's not there anyway.  And Chris was afraid of the dark.  I couldn't possibly put him in the ground.

You know what bothers me a lot right now? My memory, it's not sharp.  Matter of fact, it's filled with fuzz.  I'm aware of it which makes things worse.  I'm crisp enough to know I'm not on the ball but scattered enough that my family and friends and co-workers see it.  That, to me is aggravating.  I want the clarity I had before.

I'm not suggesting I was ever the sharpest tool in the shed, but I've digressed some.  Yes, I know, rightly so... but you would hate it too.  I realize the magnitude of what has happened to me and I'm allowed the right to falter.  I have and I am.  I’m smart enough to know that. I'd just like to keep it to a minimum.  I want to be able to do my job at work as I did before.  I want to look at contract for one of my sales reps and immediately see what's needed to complete the order.  It isn't happening without stupid mistakes that I would normally know better than to make.  I've been reviewing these contracts for years.  I'll get there I know, I just resent taking a step back mentally.  It's frustrating and it maddens me.  It's been put upon me without my consent.

I also don't like the anxious feelings that appear at times.  I am not an anxious person by nature.  What's the reason for not wanting to travel too far?  There's no physical reason I can't take a trip.  I've been invited to visit several friends for the purpose of resting or just getting away for a bit.  Right now… no way.  If I can't drive to my destination I'm not going. That's unlike me.  I love the sun!  A warm destination would normally be a no brainer.  I realize I'll get past this hurdle too; I'm just annoyed I don't feel able to go right now.  Why is that??? I hate being in a conversation with someone and when the talk goes in a direction that's uncomfortable I feel my body tense and I throw my virtual hands up in front of me to halt things.  I don't like being subjected to these new feelings due to another's actions.  It's a bunch of crap.

I know I've said before (see, I repeat myself) that I can't get comfortable with my new "position".  I am trying though.  I feel I've been called to handle this and I know God isn't asking for more than I can do.  I feel compelled to do my best, even if I drag my feet.   I just wonder why me?  Why not some other mom - or nobody at all???? How come someone has been asked to be the person in the Capital Region to be the public voice and face behind this tragedy?  How come me?  
Why did I start this blog when I’ve never written a sentence before?  Why are you reading it and why are we now friends?  I spent years at the football field and in the SHEN community as a non-named parent.  Many had no idea who I was or what child was mine.  Why is it now that they see me on TV they know Christopher was my son and what my name is?  I'd rather be than nameless mom from November 30th...

I have my meltdowns, believe me, had a big one last night.  Worst yet.  I got a grip eventually.  I'll have more for sure, plenty of them.  I can handle them.  Chris lifts me back up.  He reaches out his hand just like he did to the players he tackled.  I rely on him as I rely on you for helping me.  I know we've all been affected by this horrible tragedy.  We all suffer, we're mad and frustrated and annoyed.  We see the injustice and we can't understand the loss of life and the healing demanded of two innocent teens.

Rather than stew in fury or lay in my bed, I'm opting to see where I can do something.  What in the world can I do to generate some good from this?  I may be here for forty more years or more.  I have to do something positive if it’s nothing more than typing to you daily.  

I am looking into changing some of the laws.  I didn't even really know what they were.  I'm learning though.  I think there's plenty of room for improvement in some of our driving regulations.  I have reached out to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as well as Assemblyman James Tedisco.  I can at least voice my opinion or back their proposals for firmer rules. Driving is a privilege.   

So, how am I doing?  Very good.  Not as good as if Chris was here but when I look ahead to what the future brings?  I may not be seeing Chris through college, but I will be busy doing something constructive.  You'll probably be seeing more of me and I promise it won't be because I've collapsed and they put me in the hospital.  I'm pissed and not curling up to die. My son needs a spokesperson to speak on his behalf.  I can do that.

Thank you for reading.


  1. God Bless you, Mrs. Stewart! Im very pleased that you have reached out to public office officials. Chris will guide you in making a difference. God has given you incredible strength and courage. I will continue to pray for you and your family. Thank you for sharing your personal memories of Chris.

  2. Regina, You really are one of the strongest people I have ever met, without physically meeting you! I applaud your courage and the fact that you are going to be your sons voice ! I know you will have good days and bad days and I pray for more good then bad this year !

    I have a 16 year old daughter who just got her permit to drive in August. She has Type 1 diabetes and one of my rules is that she is to check her blood sugars before she starts the car and after her seatbelt. I have "busted" her not checking and driving off, of course with me in the passenger seat, and I say nothing until she is driving because I will not always be there with her and I want and NEED her to take responsibility for her actions or lack of them. I remind her that driving is a privilege and NOT a right! That is her blood sugar is low she can crash and not only kill herself but some innocent person or if her blood sugar is high she can do the same. We are on a strike out rule if she does not check her blood sugars before driving and she has 2 strikes. I told her even if and when she gets the License I along with DMV can take away her license and I will have no problem doing it if I deem the Privilege is being taken for granted ! Sorry I just had diarrhea of the mouth. :) I just wanted to say I hope you get some laws changed or even just make some people aware of what a privilege they have and not abuse it as so many do. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I pray tomorrow is a better day for you then today was. Always thinking of you and your family,


  3. I am glad that you shared with us on how YOU are doing. I know that you go on strong for your don't. You are his voice and I am glad that you have talked to officials. As you said driving is a privileges it's not a right and things have to change. Our community is right there with you supporting Chris and Deanna. May your voice be heard loudly. God bless you.

  4. All grief is different, and personal. It comes in waves and stages. Your commitment to weather this storm (that descended upon you without your consent) will see you through. One day at a time. One step at a time. Be patient with yourself. And for a while, be selfish. Do what is best for you. I worry that the community, even though best intended, is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on you. Write when you want to, skip it if you need a break. You have a lot to come to terms with. Allow yourself all the time you need, and the fog will start to lift. To quote Dory, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming....."

  5. Regina, I am glad to know that you have begun to contact our elected officials. You WILL make a change on Christopher's behalf. If I can be of any help, when you are ready to move forward with this, I will do whatever you need; writing letters, making calls, planning rallies I am willing to help you. I am proud of you for sharing such an immensely private time in your life. You are helping so many people come to terms with this. I have never in all my life seen so many people affected by a tragedy as we are in this situation.
    You are a wonderful woman, wife, friend, and Mother and I pray for you each and every night for you to have the strength and courage to go on each day.

    I am in awe of you and your family,

  6. Aunt Gina-
    "It sucks.." The same thing I've said to most people who've asked me the same thing. As I've said, I've dealt with this scenario before, but never from this perspective. I guess 'how are you' is just one of those things people say by default when they're not sure what to say. I try to avoid it because it's a given. I myself wasn't sure to say to you at the game the other night, so I didn't say much and was just happy to be supportive, present and close by. I hope I got across my sentiments with a few seconds of holding hands. For me being a massage therapist, just a bit of contact can mean so much more than these words. I've spoken about our hilltown losses and just about two months before losing Chris, we lost Mike Casullo on September 29. He played baseball with Stephen for years and we were well aquatinted with his family, who live down the road from me. Anyway people are just at a loss of words for these things and touch is what's important. In between these two tragedies we had a speaker where I work, I think her name is Sister Mary, I know she's a counselor at Saint Pius X, who talked mostly about the importance of laughter and touch in such times. And boy did she get everyone laughing, I had a hard time carrying my trays, I was in stitches! Your post tonight made me think of her speech about the powers of presence and touch over words.
    Hugs & Kisses,

  7. My dear... be gentle with yourself. God did not put you here to "do" anything. There is nothing to do and no place to go but to yourself (and therefore to God). You are "doing" great. You are "being" great. You continue to mirror you truest emotions day-to-day, and this helps so many. Keep "swimming" as Ellen says (above) and you will be fine. I see you following your intuition... your instinct. This is what you MUST do. Travel when it it feels right, not before. Reach out to discuss regulations, when you feel compelled, but no farther (don't let it become another burden to shoulder). Your presence is your gift to the world. And sharing your relationship to life, to motherhood, to your work, friends, and family is an unexpected gift in our lives. Peace. That is what God wants for you. Be well.


    God has found a wonderfully talented spokesperson in you. It is tragic and it frankly sucks that you are in this position but God obviously needed you and through your son he "got" you! Your writings are what I would like to think are the feelings and thoughts of most. Only the majority of us would probably not know how or be brave enough to express the feelings as you do. I am so happy you are going to be fighting for the politicians to take a better look at driving laws and hopefully enact change.

    On the other hand my heart breaks for you and the other families affected. I am out of state so I have relied on my cousins to fill me in on the movements of the case. I think the 518 has to continue to fight together for change and to show a person that they must conduct themselves in a lawful manner or there are consequences.

    I understand your reluctance to travel. But remember your Christopher can easily travel with you. I am so happy for you that you made the decision to keep Chris next to you. I have told my family that if anything should happen to me I would like my husband and daughter to each take some of me and take me out when they need to talk. I feel it would bring them comfort. I know Chris brings you comfort and I hope he does that for the others he was close to.
    Have a peaceful Sunday and may God Bless You!

  9. After reading your blog each day and your unimaginable adjustment to your new normal, all I can say is "Why not you?" If there was a way to measure a relatability quotient, yours would be sky high...I think that is why your story resonates so deeply in the 518 and beyond. In grappling with the day to day flow of a life after it takes a sudden, tragic turn, you have that megawatt "it" factor and we all see a little bit of ourselves through your eyes. Godspeed.

  10. Regina,
    Good Morning. I read your blog each morning and often think of you and your family throughout the day. I am happy you decided to write how YOU are doing this morning. I continue to pray for you and believe you will do GREAT things and Chris will be there with you every step of the way. I've said it before, but you continue to inspire and awe me with your strength.

  11. How are you??? You are an Inspiration. I know how badly you'd like your life back as of November 30th. I can learn a lot from you and your focus. I have to tell you though, after my mother passed (I was 25) my remembering skills seemed to diminish. I only remembered the things I absolutely needed to. Dates are hard for I can appreciate where you are at with the "fuzziness".

    Wishing you well.
    God Bless!
    Lela xoxo

  12. Mrs.Stewart, I have loved reading all of YOUR BLOGS... EVERY SINGLE ONE has touched my heart.. I didn't know your son nor your family before this but my heart feels like I do now. You had asked who inspires you, and I can tell you that "Regina" you are my inspiration <3<3<3 You family is very lucky to have you.. God bless and Thank you

    1. Goos bless you today and the days ahead.

  13. This is the post I've been waiting for. We share the same anger and frustration at this situation, but still a little shred of hope. I wish nobody ever had to go through anything like this, but I'm busy trying to accept that sometimes these things just happen and it's just a part of life. It doesn't make anything any easier, although I wish it did.

    1. You've inspired me to start blogging about loss too, and wow. It's harder than you make it seem.

  14. Regina:

    As Terry so eloquently put it, be gentle with yourself. God did not put you here to "do" anything. There is nothing to do and no place to go but to yourself (and therefore to God). I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I can say that I am not expecting anything from you. I can only imagine you would pick being nameless over being known now by thousands because of this what happened.

    No one has asked you to be the person in the Capital Region to be the public voice and face behind this tragedy. I don’t think we think of you that way, I know I don’t. I reach out to you on this blog as an avenue to offer any sense of comfort, not to pry into your life. I reach out to you on this blog to let you know you are not alone, even if it just to send a prayer. I hope you don’t feel pressured or obligated to keeping this blog out there so as to be a public voice, but instead for the reasons you stated in the beginning. So we know Chris, and so we don‘t forget him.

    I started reading it when I saw it, out of a sense of need to know how you were. It’s hard to hear about a tragedy and then wonder afterward how the family is doing. I consider myself a passionate person and I hurt when others hurt, and like so many parents out there, we care how you are.

    I have also seen, as anyone else that follows the news, parents like yourself who have lost a child, that go out and help establish laws, bring awareness and stop tragedies from happening to others in the future. If you go that route, as you put in your blog, I can try to be of some help. I work in a law firm that has a legislative department and I could try to gather information for you, or steer you in the right direction, but the way you are already starting seems right to me.

    Out of respect, I read your blog and hope any one of my responses helps you in some small way. And only for that reason. I will leave you with the two following things. A prayer that helped me through some very hard times and a quote I heard this morning. I respect your privacy and hope that you take what I said to hear. Out of respect I read your blog and hope in some small way, my words can help you…

    Serenity Prayer
    God grant me the serenity 
    to accept the things I cannot change; 
    The courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Living one day at a time; 
    Enjoying one moment at a time; 
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it; 
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    if I surrender to His Will;
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life 
    and supremely happy with Him
    Forever in the next.

    It’s the character that’s the strongest that God give the most challenges to…

    God Bless...

  15. You are a woman strong, Regina.

    I'm sure Chris is so proud of you.

    Your words impact us all. You blog alone has already made such a difference to so many.

    Thank you for having the courage to share the songs of your heart.

  16. I started reading your blog and am just amazed (as other are) with your strength. I can hardly get through a topic with dry eyes. I moved up to Cifton Park 4 years ago, I have to children (8 & 13) in Shen and I have never been so proud to be part of a community as I am now. I was amazed the way everyone came together in such a horrific time. I stood there with my son at the memorial at the school football field with such pride, sorrow and amazement. A day doesn't go by when I dont think of you and Chris, a beautiful young man that I never met and his truly amazing mother who allows us into her life, and daily thoughts. Thank you.

  17. Mrs. Stewart,

    You are AMAZING!!! Day after day, you send these "gifts" out to all and I want you to know how much I appreciate your blog entries and you. Your faith in love and humanity are incredible, even enviable. Thank you, once again, for your words of truth and wisdom.

  18. You are such an amazingly strong woman! I read your blog everyday, usually before i go to work in the hospital with very very sick people and you brighten my day! You have taught me to appreciate life and the people in my life and given me strength when something "doesn't go the way i want it to", because really in the grand scheme of things, it is not a big deal. I am happy you are taking action with the law, as i agree it can be more strict, as you said driving is a privilege and way too many people get hurt because of the careless acts of others. I want to thank you for being that person to be the voice for everyone else, however I'm sorry you had to love your son in order to be that person. I believe God has grand plans for you, and both He and Chris will keep you strong!
    Thank you for opening up your world to the rest of us, you are truly and inspiration.

    1. Regina,

      Take your time, there is no perfect grieving formula, everyone grieves in their own way and own pace. We look forward to your blog to support you and be here for you. If blogging is burdensome, skip a day. If it is helping you keep doing it. You only need to do what you want and what is good for you, Mike and Jeremy.

      No one expects you to be the spokes person, but if this role helps to empower you to deal with this loss and not feel helpless then be that person! I know your stength is for your son, and comes from yourson. Chris's death will not be in vain, with your will and perseverance drivers will be held more accountable and somone else will not have to suffer the same pain as you, because You are doing something to stop reckless and under the influence speeding driving!

      One day at a time, actually one minute at a time...cry when you want to, laugh when you can and don't forget to breathe! You truly are a strong person, I can see why Chris was so well rounded and well liked, you had him grounded and held him accountable! You are a great mom, no doubt a trait you learned from your mom...

      Best of luck with taking action with the law..."i believe that you can win!" no one should have their license with that many infractions! Hopefully one day there will be Chris and Deanna's law in honor of two innocent kids whose only crime in life was being normal teens enjoying a night out with friends doing nothing wrong! Driving is a privilege and no one should be given that many chances!

      As in charlottes web a saying I use with my students when they are struggling "chin up, Charlotte!"

      You are doing great being you! Keep up the good work, and when you don't feel like being strong, or can't be...don't let somone else take that role! When you are ready to travel, you'll know it and you will be able to go! Keep up the good work, and take care of yourself!Keep pulling yourself up,with Chris's help, the visual of him pulling you to your feet like he did his opponents is very powerful!
      God Bless, XO

    2. Oh the power of grammar and proper punctuation can completely change a statement ...the line was supposed to read...
      Keep up the good work, and when you don't feel like being strong,or can't be...don't. Let someone else take that role!
      ***Not ...(don't let someone else take that role...)

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  20. Regina thank for letting us know how you are. We all worry about you and everyone that has been affected by this tragedy. When something bad happens we all wonder why? But seldom do we know the answer. That I guess is where our faith comes in. During the toughest times in life its hard to keep the faith. But its those times when we need it the most. Ive been thinking we should start a new organization. "Families against drinking and/or drugs and driving." MADD is great but I think more of a presense would be good and to involve the whole family even better. What would you think about doing something like that? Id be willing to help get this off the ground and I bet we would get tons of community support. Just some ideas. Remember we are all here for you. Give yourself permission to forget something or have a moment or a bad day. You have to cut yourself some slack. We all admire you for your strength courage and for the grace in which you have handled the unimagineable as a parent.

  21. I may be from Long Island, but being a sophomore at UAlbany has helped me embrace my 518 connections. I just wanted to let you know that the whole campus was struck with sadness after hearing this, with many of my friends being from Shen and Shaker and having known Chris, I am upset I was not given the golden opportunity to know a kid like Chris but I know for sure that he had been blessed by God and has touched countless people. I pray for you and your family to stay strong, and I know its easy for me to say, but when the going gets tough just keep on being proud of all that Chris was and all that he has given you. I pray for the repose of his soul and may he rest eternally in the peace and serenity of God's Kingdom. God Bless. From a very loving University at Albany Community, the purple and gold will stay strong for you. -Eric

  22. Thank you for telling us how you are doing. It is something I think about every day. I pray for your strength and peace each day and that you are able to smile at least once a day. I hope these things help you get through each day. my thoughts and prayers are still with you and the rest of the families of this tragedy.