Sunday, January 20, 2013

This blog

I was fortunate enough to spend a day out yesterday.  We had a good time together at the Women's Expo in Latham - and it was all due to this blog.  I was offered the opportunity to bring a group and have a ladies day out by the Producer of the show. Thank you Suzette and your wonderful staff! What an incredible message that was to receive from you.  It was so nice to give some of my friends and family a well-deserved day out. They've been thru the wringer this past month and a half.

Many things have culminated from the first words I wrote several weeks ago when I started this blog.  It continues to make me shake my head in disbelief.  I never considered myself a writer.  It's very hard to understand what has been happening to all of us since the accident on December 1st. We were all affected.  I think there's merit to digging into this so we can figure out what it is we do for each other.  I know I could use some help piecing it together.  I can't quite grasp what's occurring each day but I know it's helpful and I'm so appreciative.
I've had condolence cards and texts and e-mails from people I know who share their grief and in the same note tell me they love my blog.  I'm happy about that and glad they take a few minutes to read it.  That's very kind.  I've wondered, however, if maybe they're just being nice and reading it out of obligation because we know one another? That wouldn't be out of the ordinary I don't think.

At the Expo I was easily stopped a half dozen times by strangers (but really now new friends) who felt the need to tell me they read faithfully every day and find me to be among the strongest people they know.  Me??? I'm just me being me. Several told me they had even told themselves if they ever saw me out they would be sure to approach me and let me know I'm an inspiration. I can't help but smile.  I don't get it.  I don't even see it personally, but That’s OK, that’s what faith is all about.  If I inspire then that’s fabulous.  Who wouldn't want to be called inspirational?  

I am starting to realize there's something special in the way I relate to people - you for instance.  This situation has changed who I am.  Before the accident I probably would classify myself as someone who reacted to situations calmly and rationally.  That's just my nature.  I tend to reason things out, I don't jump the gun and I don't fly off the handle.  I feel I’m a good person to have nearby in an emergency.  Since Chris passed I seem to be more acutely aware of my feelings and reactions.  I'm more observant and cautious about things and I look for details and pay attention to people more closely.  Maybe that's why this blog is helping more than just me?  It’s helping you.  I could be that "everyday" kind of girl that helps things along. I'm glad if that the case.

I wish I had a better pulse on what it is that I provide to you? Is it simply that I'm “relatable?” It must be different things to different people.   I know I'm elementary in my speech and grammar, that's for sure.  Honestly I can't worry about that.  My goal isn't novel writing but just in expressing a daily thought.  I usually don't even know what my blog will be about until I open a new page and stare at it for a sec.  Then I just start blabbing.

I find that you help me to feel normal.  You reply to me about your lives and your families and you tell me stories and make me feel like I'm not alone.  You talk to me about death and children and fears and about yourselves.  You take me away from my situation for a bit and help me to know I'm going to get thru this.  You tell me I will start to feel better in time.  You remind me to have faith, trust God's plan and continue being strong.  Much of the time I feel weak but I’m working on it.  I try not to talk to you about that too much.  I try to be aware of it so I keep my weakness under control.  I try not to look too far ahead or I get overwhelmed.
I want to thank you for caring about me and this situation.  I'm glad you haven't gotten tired of it and shut me off.  I know it's a downer and that grieving is draining.  I'm glad you hang in there with me daily and that you've embraced Chris as one of your own.  He's the kind of kid to be shared.  Christopher was a very good boy.  Thank you for loving him and shedding tears, for the loss of him and the pain I carry.  This situation isn't going to go away for me unfortunately and it means a lot to have you as my support
Your kindness rubs off on me.  I'm glad there are so many wonderful people in the 518 and beyond.  It's comforting to know we need each other.  

Thank you for reading.


  1. How nice to see you have girlfriend time, you certainly deserve a happy day. I am always praying for you and your family. Thank you for still sharing Chris with us, I find my love for him growing with each blog I read. Thank you for sharing him with me.

  2. Hi Regina. Thank you so much for sharing your soul with our community. Yesterday while traveling to Saratoga Springs to speak about volunteerism and compassion to a large group high school students I was behind a car with a Shen/Shaker blue and green ribbon. Upon seeing this ribbon, I thought of you and the other families affected by the terrible accident, but I also thought of all of the love that has blanketed our community. It also reminded me that we all just need to take each day a little slower.

    Since the time of the accident, I set a goal to write one inspirational thought each and every day when I wake up. I call these thoughts my inspirational fortune cookies and I share them on my book's Facebook page. So far I've been able to accomplished the goal and have over ten pages of them written.

    Here are yesterday's and today's fortune cookies:

    "Love has no boundaries, thus it can never be conquered. Love has no walls, thus it is always open. Love has no limits, thus it has no end."

    "Each day of your life is a blank canvas and there is a choice on how you paint it. Will you choose to color it with kindness, compassion and caring or will you choose anger, hatred and apathy?"

    Keep writing and sharing!

  3. I was at the Expo yesterday and wanted to approach you and say how much I admired you. I am a reader ( lurker), and have read your blog daily. I saw a few people come up and talk to you- I didn't want to overwhelm you. I am glad that you had a great day know that you do embody inspiration, grace and strength. God Bless.

  4. Regina,

    I am so happy you had a wonderful day with family and friends. You are truly an inspiration and I think part of what keeps me reading is your honesty, strength, faith and grace. " There by the grace of God...." they say and I think myself along with many others reading your blog realize that adage is so true. I want to be there as a distant friend if you need a distant friend to lean on. I feel a bit selfish however after reading your blog that you shield the readers from your pain at times. I feel you are truly fortunate that God has given you an outlet for you suffering. Can you imagine if it was bottled up with no where to go?

    I have enjoyed getting to know Chris. Though I have a daughter and not a son, had I had a son he was going to be a Christopher. Seeing Chris' pictures each day I can tell he has a specialness to him. You can see it in his eyes. So clear and focussed. Never looking away but straight into your lens.

    May you have a peaceful Sunday. I say a special prayer at Mass each weekend for Chris and your family. God Bless You and Yours!

  5. I WAS one of the half dozen random people who approached you!! I came up to you immediately after that awesome concert, I actually apologized and interrupted a conversation you were having with someone else, but I had to say hello before I left. I apologize for the interruption! I told you how sorry I was, and how much I admire you for your blog and the way you are handling this unspeakable tragedy. I can tell you why I personally am so inspired by your words. As a mother, I see you experiencing every mother's WORST and most unimaginable nightmare. None of us can imagine your pain and probably everyone is like myself in the fact that we go to bed and pray to God that our children live long, healthy and happy lives. You are enduring what we cannot imagine. We wonder if we would just curl up into a ball in a dark room and want to die ourselves over our loss, or would be have the strength to go forward in a world without our child and rejoice that we were lucky enough to have had them for the brief time we did. No one can imagine the pain or how we would handle it. You are showing us that, not only do you grieve for your son, but you are so joyful in the celebration of his life!! Of who he was, what he loved, what mattered to him. You celebrate everything about who he was. You love him, you cry, you probably have plenty of days where you DO curl up in a fetal position and wonder how you can go on, but you do it and you do it in a way that assures us all that he is in heaven smiling down on you and loving you for the bright and strong spirit that is his mom. THAT is why you inspire me. Your strength, your faith and your love for you son are truly beautiful things are you are sharing them with all of us. That is love. That is inspirational. (PLUS, you are a great writer. Keep up the good work. We love your posts!)

  6. So glad to hear about your Girls Day Out @ the Women's Expo. You are a rock star! As always, it was interesting to hear your spot on assessment. In a world filled with tragic stories, I think yours is so easily relatable because so many people can picture themselves in your shoes. And would want to walk in your footprints if the situation were suddenly thrust upon them. I am off to volunteer at the Expo this morning on behalf of Komen Race for the Cure -- we would love to have you and your posse join us on October 5th.

  7. Regina,
    Last night on the way home from a track meet I was driving with my daughter and "Diamonds in the Sky" came on. I know by now to watch for the tears as this song brings forth now the reality of what happened to two of her beloved classmates... And there they were again. We held hands and talked about Chris and Deanna. Kristen had stories of Chris's fun-loving ways, and Deanna's pure acceptance of others. Of birthday parties, and things I would not have known about seemingly insignificant but now quite meaningful classroom antics and jokes. Perhaps you know this, but apparently in Health Class they left Chris's desk "as-is". Last week was their last class and the teacher shared a moment of tenderness as they talked through the learnings of the year, brought closer by their loss. We talked about the seemingly nonsensical loss and my daughter said (as you have said) that this has changed her perception of life and of herself forever. That even though she can't make sense of it, it makes her think about things more... and differently.

    These kids we have brought into the world - they change it for the better! Chris and Deanna did that! My daughter and all of her friends do that! They are precious beings longing to create something of value. They love us dearly. My daughter was brought to tears again when we started talking about schools and scholarships. With no sports scholarship on the horizon (a disappointment, but not a disaster) her pain is in not having a way to "help" with the cost of college, something she had so wanted to do after seeing the difficulties to send her older brother to college, and her observations of my own worry and concern. I share this with you because I was able to share with her your blog which touched on this topic... and how even though I may still worry, it is a worry I am blessed to have. That all of us as parents are blessed to have. And that the lesson we will learn together is how to find a way to make our dreams come true.

    These conversations help us to grow together in love as a family. You are an instrument of peace. You are God's instrument and it is absolutely impossible for you to get a handle on the "why" it must be you. And it is also impossible for you to see all of these myriad tiny little stories from people you believe you do not know (but you DO know us) are changing our lives every single day. Let go of the knowing and just go with it and know that in fact in bringing yourself to yourself... of bringing yourself to us... you are in fact doing God's work. And we thank you for writing.

  8. Regina,

    I saw you, Bailey and your family and friends yesterday standing off the side of the stage. I've never known you or your families, but ny cousin Kelli Gormley cheered for Chris for many years at Shen. It was always a name I recognized when I would go to see her cheer every year.

    I have become a daily reader and it was truly great to see you guys out and about and appearing to have a great time yesterday. Im a huge fan of Lifehouse so was there for the show, and had years weld up in my eyes when they sang 'From Where You Are' for Bailey and you. I was so happy they did that (they haven't in years) and every time I hear it will think of you guys from now on - in a happy way.

    While I was too chicken to approach you yesterday, I want to say you really are an inspiration to many, and I hope you continue to write for a long time.

    Take Care,
    Darcy Miller

  9. Mrs. Stewart,
    Hopefully I can address two things you brought up today in your blog: Why we read and that you love to hear stories about our lives.

    Well, why I read. It's a big one. I guess it's in part because I feel the grief of losing a friend as if Chris was my own friend. I can relate to it so strongly that I feel as if everybody else in Burnt Hills, while they are certainly sad, doesn't feel the way I do on the same level. To be honest, the accident has forced me to question mortality and question everything I do. I'm not sure if I like that. This past year has taught me not to be carefree, and I miss not worrying. I miss not thinking that whenever my boyfriend and best friend would go back to school that something bad would happen. I miss being able to not have to second guess every move I make. It's all a part of healing I guess, and I hope it will make me into a better, more logical person. My mom has always told me my sense of empathy is my biggest strength and biggest weakness. I see that now. It allows me to connect with people on a different level, but also tends to make me upset beyond belief. I'm trying too though. I read your blog because, just as we help YOU to feel not as alone, you help ME to feel not as alone. This tragedy has amplified everything else in my life to the point where it sometimes feels unbearable. When I feel like I can't do it, I read your blog. It is honest, raw, and hopeful. It's everything I need. Now that's a selfish thing to say, but if not for your sake but for mine, KEEP WRITING.

    Anyway, a story, since you seem to like hearing those. Hmm. Well, you tweeted to me good luck for my submission to the writing contests/scholarships. One of them I entitled "Biography." It is a poem that is now on my blog about watching my mother battle cancer, losing my best friend, losing my nana, and all throughout writing it, I kept putting in little sprinkles of how everyone in this situation feels. Everything has taught me that we're miles away but seconds from heaven (if that makes any sense.) it's so true. Anyway, my wonderful, inspirational English teacher (who I have tea with on Thursday mornings, in case you were wondering :0 ) really enjoyed it and she thinks it will go far. Another good story? You probably have known it from reading my tweets, but University of Virginia likes me for rowing and I love them. I'm visiting them next weekend and couldn't be more excited. Over february break, I'm visiting Tennessee. Guess who inspired me to look at them? Yeah, you got it. Bailey.

    The point is, I couldn't thank you any more for being in my life, even though I only know your voice from tv interviews, your face from photographs and the vigil, and your thoughts from a computer screen. You've changed my life for the better, and for that, I can never repay you. I just wish it didn't have to be the way it is.


  10. Regina,
    I am so glad that you had a wonderful day yesterday. I wake every morning turn on my phone and go directly to your blog. I am so inspired by your stories and words. I have said before I am going through some issues and worried what the out come will be. Reading your blog has given me the courage to DO something about this situation. My Co-workers are telling me how proud they are of me. I just want to give you a big THANK YOU and if I ever saw you would give you the biggest hug but for now this is all I can do HUG. I saw that one of the readers wrote about the Rhianna song Diamonds. Every time I hear it I think of Chris and Deanna. They are 2 diamonds in the sky. I have to admit I do cry everyone I hear it. Thank you again for sharing and God bless.

  11. Hi Regina,

    How wonderful that you were able to get out and be treated to a nice girls day out with some close friends and family. It was lovely to see Bailey with her Mom and sister also able to enjoy the day with you. It is heartwarming to see and hear about your relationship with them.. I think you all really need it. Instead of backing away.. You've become closer.

    In another posting I mentioned why I read your blog. You are one of us.. A mother, a friend, a neighbor ... This tragedy has hit us close to home. We read and hope that your strength will rub off on us. You truly are "grace under pressure". I think that we all want to better people.. This blog gives me the inspiration to actually go out and be better. A kinder, softer, forgiving and compassionate person. If you can do with everything that you've been through recently... I can certainly do it with whatever burden's I may carry.
    Also.. This is your blog.. This is your therapy.. Please don't feel like you have to hold back from what you may be feeling. Do what helps YOU most. We can handle it. Friendship is a two way street.. You've helped us.. Let us help you..

  12. Always thinking of you Regina.. you are such a strong and wonderful person.. I am so glad you started this blog for others to relate to and so you have a way to share and express your story.. we are all lucky to have you as well!

  13. Regina,
    Your blog has helped us to realize our kids are normal. You have not elevated Chris to this superhero with a giant S under his shirt and a bunch of capes in the closet. Your blog has entitled us to appreciate our children's strengths and see their little annoyances as blessing.

    We can relate to you and your son because he has become the child of anyone who reads your have made him real. And we have become empathetic to you because of your ability to portray Chris just as he is...a regular teen with some extra special qualities!

    God Bless you

  14. Your Christopher is helping me to be a kinder, more patient, appreciative parent. We all want so much to support you and let you know we haven't forgotten you - or him.

  15. Regina-

    I start most of my day's reading your posts from this blog. I find them very inspiring. I am currently a graduate student at Saint Rose and spent my four undergraduate years here as well. I am originally from Nassau County on Long Island and this past summer, someone from my graduating class was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. My graduating class was about 600 and all of us were in a state of shock and sadness. We learned that the pain never really goes away. We find outlets to express how we feel. This could be drawing, writing, reading, or any new hobby. For me, it was writing and I have a handwritten notebook of thoughts. This blog has been helping me deal with the loss of a classmate because a lot of the feelings are mutual, but also with other problems in my life. You are indeed an inspiration to so many. What you're doing seems to possess this twofold purpose, to help you and help others. How amazing to be able to do this, probably without realizing it, despite all that has happened to you!

    I didn't attend Shen, but I did do a lot of observational hours in the elementary schools in the district. The Shen community is unlike any other and I was so fortunate to be able to spend time there. You share so much of yourself and your life with us on this blog. I love that and I love that it challenges me to start doing the same and to start living life to the fullest.

    Plain and simple: I read because you write. You inspire. You remind us that life is precious and you remind us that despite the devastation and "bad" in our lives, conversely there is another side, one of happiness and appreciation. So, to you I have to say, Thank You! I look forward to continuing to read about your journey through this difficult time and I continue to join the rest of the 518 community in supporting you and everyone else involved!

    Much Love and Peace,


  16. "I wish I had a better pulse on what it is that I provide to you?" The only thing that I can say in response to this is that you provide me the knowledge that you are strong enough to take each day as it comes to you. I too, was happy to see that you and the Winds and your family got a girl's day out to spend time together and comfort each other while getting in some smile time. I find it interesting that you have yet another tie to Siena College. It was held there, wasn't it? I remember your blog about the ties with Siena...

    I know I wrote before, on Dawn Wind's facebook, that People all around just want to put a smile on all your faces, even if for a moment. If enough do that, the little sunshine will start to build... One day at a time... whether it be in a response to your blog; by sending you a card; by giving you hugs. I think that everyone just wants to try to add some sunshine to your days when we can.

    I lost a child, but not one I knew, not one I shared so many memories with... I had a miscarriage, 3 months in, but regardless I was in love with the baby and had all the dreams and hopes every expectant mom has. I was fortunate to already have my son, so my grieving was put off when it needed to be, to care for him and my family, and I had my alone time when I grieved in the way that was right for me to get through. I let people see my vulnerability at times, and at times I smiled through the tears... At times, I needed my family, friends and even my son to help me grieve, but then I needed to rely on those to get me out of my own head...

    Grieving is draining, but you shouldn't have to do it alone if you don't want to. Sharing Chris with us is allowing us to get to know who he was, how special he was, and remember him, his good and comical qualities and not the way he was taken. I feel it's also helping you solidify your memories and giving friends and family who are grieving the opportunity to start their days with beautiful memories that they may have forgotten, or maybe didn't share, but can add to their memory bank... Keep sharing your memories, you good times and even your bad times and rely on us to help lift you up if we can.

    God bless...

  17. I read every day! Would not miss a day.
    Don't always comment.
    Do pray for you always,
    Amy Drejas

  18. I read, because you have the courage to write and share. I think your going to do great things... whether we lurk, comment or whatever it is we do, we are here to support you. Sometimes silently, sometimes with a thought or kind word, and sometimes you dont even know after we've read we pray real real hard.

  19. Regina,

    Glad you enjoyed your day out with friends. I love my girls' night outs (GNO's)...good for the soul! There is nothing in life like having good girlfriends to lean on!!

    I have read your blog since it started. Why? Because this tragedy hit close to home. Why this one and not another one before it? Not sure. Maybe because I feel so many ties to your family even though you and I have never met. I knew your brother Eddie when we were about Chris' age; I knew your sister-in-law Lisa in grammar school; my youngest son Connor knows your nephew Zach, as well as, Bailey; and then there's our mutual friend Maria.

    When you write, I see so many similarities in our lives because you could be writing about one of my boys! Or when you were talking about dishes, laundry or tripping over shoes that could have been me talking about my life! I think there but for the Grace of God go I. And as I read each day, I laugh, cry or both! I wonder if I were in your shoes would I be able to be as strong as you are. Selfishly I pray I will never have to find out but if I did, I would hope to have your strength and grace to carry on.

    I read your words about Chris and I think, if he and my boys had known each other they would have been friends because he reminds me of them. Also when reading your words I am reminded not to sweat the small stuff. In the scheme of things dirty dishes and tripping over shoes really does not matter and someday soon I will miss that when they're out on their own. I am learning from you to be a more patient parent and to take more time with my kids. For that I am thankful. I wish we had not become "friends" and were not on this journey together because then your Chris would still be with you. For some reason unknown to us he sadly is not and you were put in our paths. Your writings are beautiful and so are the memories you share. It makes us stop and remember as well! For that I thank you and for as long as you continue to write, I will be reading.

    Hugs and peace!

  20. Dear Gina,
    So happy to read about your girls day out with friends and family. Love the pictures, especially the group photo, lots of smiles. Thank You for sharing another day of your thoughts and feelings with us. This blog means so much to me, it has changed my life also, just like so many others, in so many ways. I guess to start with it would be the way you have allowed us into your world by sharing your son and family as well as your heart. I basically understood mourning for the loss of a loved one or friend pretty much ended as a group after the services were completed. From that day forward, we were pretty much left to carry our pains tucked away in a place that we rarely let them out. Your Blog goes against the grain as it was taught to me, and I am so thankful for that. Old School ways have a time and place, but mourning for the loss of a loved one no longer fits for me, and you taught me that, you continue to teach me that.
    I'm pressed for time this morning, so I need to end this reply sooner than I would like, but please continue to write these beautiful stories, and let us share with you as you share with us. Our arms will always be open, and yes, it is comforting to know we need each other. Wishing you a day of happiness. Always In My Thoughts And Prayers, Love You, Eddie

  21. Hi Regina. As always, this was an inspiring read. I was wondering if you would be interested in contacting me directly. I have a close friend (well really, she is my mother's best friend), who lost her daughter in December. She was murdered by her estranged boyfriend, and father to her 2 very small children. You may have heard about it in the news. I would like to put you in contact with her. Shea an incredible woman, and is having a really hard time - as can be expected. My mom and I just feel so helpless, and wish so badly that there was SOMETHING, ANYTHING that we could do for her. I just feel that you could both benefit immensely from the support of each other. The pain you both feel is only something I can imagine. Maybe I should start by introducing your blog to her. I'm sure if nothing else, she will find strength in reading it. PS .. I'm also a coworker of Mikes. My email is Ryannlwalters@maxim And as always, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  22. I enjoy your blog because of the way you write. It's simple and you think of things to write about that I take for granted. I have also started reading your brother, Eddie's responses. They are full of the love he has for you and sometimes cute stories of your younger years. as always thank you for sharing and showing me the things I take for granted and to cherish them.