Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Purse

I've never been one to carry a lot in my pocketbook.  It has always held just the bare necessities in my opinion: wallet, keys, gum, checkbook, pen, hand lotion, dollar store eyeglasses and lipgloss, very simple.  I don't spend much on purses either, any designer one I may have is definitely a knock off.  I can't justify the price.  I use the same one all year round.  My friends and coworkers can attest to the fact that I'm practical and low maintenance.
These days my purse carries one more thing at all times, Christopher's ashes.  Yes, he goes with me everywhere.  Sometimes I look to double check the silver urn is there, just for my own piece of mind, other times I take it out and hold it in hopes I'll feel him with me.  This is definitely new in my life.
Chris' big SHEN green urn sits in his room on his dresser among the smattering of tee shirts he acquired when we visited colleges.  It's really heavy.  I sat his gorgeous golden football trophy on top of him where he's sure not to miss it when he visits his room.  The little urn is so I can keep him close always.  
He protects me.  I need him nearby when I miss him and I'm thankful to Catricalla Funeral Home for helping me pick out a small urn in addition to the big one.  It means a great deal to me and was one of the best decisions I made during that tragic week. You may find it creepy, awkward or morbid, I can't help that though.  He's my son and if ashes are his physical form now I want him with me in that way.
So, back to the purse; it got me to thinking about something I carry in my wallet.  Of all things, an Ann Landers newspaper clipping.  Yes, that Ann Landers. I've had it for years and years, no kidding, since I was in high school.  It's yellowed and wrapped in scotch tape to protect it.  I don't think it would be as meaningful if I retyped it as it would lose its character.  Here's what it says:


The young man was at the end of his rope.  Seeing no way out he dropped to his knees in prayer. "Lord I can't go on.  I have too heavy a cross to bear".
The Lord replied "My son, if you can't bear its weight just place your cross inside that room. Then open that other door and pick out any cross you wish".
The man was filled with relief "Thank you Lord" he sighed and he did as he was told.
Upon entering the other door he saw many crosses, some so large the tops were not visible. Then he spotted a tiny cross leaning against a far wall.
"I'd like that one, Lord" he whispered.
And The Lord replied "My son that is the cross you just brought in."

I have always loved reading that story and now it has new meaning to me.  I used to think I had problems back in the day but now I know they were drops in the bucket.  I’m aware I carry a heavy load right now too.  
My heartache is tremendous and I have to dig deep into my faith in God.  I have broad shoulders though and I can carry what I'm asked to.  I feel I'm a very special woman for God to single me out in the Capital District and ask me to handle this situation.  I don't know why he did - I can ask all I want but it’s not time to know just yet. I can do this.  I can get through it and manage to find the good.  I have a lot of support all around me - in various forms of mental, spiritual, physical and emotional hands.  
I'm glad I carried that story for all those years in my sparse pocketbook contents.  There's a reason I did.  My cross is not nearly the largest.  Far from it I'm sure.  It seems we're all learning something from this tragedy, each of us in our own way.  So long as good things happen as a result then we all benefit.  I know I'm becoming stronger and my senses are awakening to a new degree.  I hope yours are too.

Thank you for reading.


  1. Regina,
    That Ann Landers story is beautiful. I think it's wonderful that you keep your son close to you and take him everywhere you go. We want to keep our children close to us we are mothers and nothing or no one will ever change that. I would just love to reach through my phone and give you a hug. I hope hope this will do . Thank you for sharing and God bless

  2. Mrs. Stewart, I have read your blog from the very first day that it first appeared on fb. I have followed this tragedy from the very beginning and I couldn't for the life of me tell you why. I have become cyber friends with Bailey's mom and Bailey herself as well. I met them in person at the pancake breakfast and I must say what warm people they are. I saw you standing at the entrance when I was waiting for my husband. Wanted to speak to you or maybe just hug you but you were chatting with someone and didn't want to interrupt. It was enough just being there at the breakfast, making a donation, buying bracelets, and taking a few chances on some of the baskets,
    I don't sleep very much at night anymore so tonight was one of those nights that I opened up my I-pad hoping for one of your early posts.
    I felt so sad for you after reading about you carrying an urn with you. Don't find it morbid at all. How thoughtful of the funeral home to suggest that you have two for Chris. Who would even think of such a thing at such an awful time. When my Dad passed away my nephew asked my sister an I if he could have some of my Dads ashes and I said no, wishing now I had thought about how much better he would have felt had I said yes. How selfish I was I guess.
    Well I just wanted you to know about me and know that I think about you and all involved in this tragic event and pray for all of you to try and find peace in the future. I'M not a good writer as some of your other bloggers are, but I just wanted you to know I am one out here who cares. god Bless You as I'm sure he already does.

  3. Mrs Stewart, I think.god has with amazing strength in your sorrows, I admire you each time blog, yoi truely are an amazing woman, I am glad you are able to hold your son close always.

  4. Oh my dear Regina... what an amazing post this morning. You are so filled with Amazing Grace. Thank you so much for sharing. You help us to see just how tiny our crosses really are.

  5. Mrs. Stewart...way back when I first started reading your blog I remember thinking I'd like to get the cross that Chris had. Even searched for it on the Boscovs site. The one that I believe Bailey had gotten him for their one year if I'm not mistaken? Truth is I can see a lot of myself in your boy. The blonde hair and blue eyes...the boy who has always dripping sweat just walking across a room. The hard finding jeans to fit right because thighs so big most pants won't make it out of the store. So I too have been known to shovel snow in my baggy shorts! :) I too have a sarcastic side which I'm sure my wife will testify I know how to push ones buttons at times. Then I got thinking maybe I'm not worthy of a cross like Chris had. He is a angel in the heavens and the cross he had was meant just for him. I'm here hoping for the strength to get off my butt and really change my life for the good. Praying that when my 100% of this thing called life is up that I have no regrets. I'm not a big church goer as like Chris I too am not a fan of dressing up. The one scripture that I keep saying to myself is "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" . I believe you too can do this because we here are all inspired by you!

  6. Regina...such an amazing post today. If keeping a part of Chris close with you is of comfort, then why should any one question it. What forethought on the part of your funeral director....truly thinking of your best interest in the future in helping you make this choice. I love the Ann Landers story. I have read it before and each time it makes me reflect on the good in my life.

    I wish you had not been thrust into the spotlight and your new position. I think you are handling it with such grace and strength. We are all learning from you and your daily posts.

    Thank you for sharing.
    Hugs and peace

  7. Good Morning Regina,

    What comfort that urn of Chris's ashes must be! I can totally understand and would want that also..
    Thank you for mentioning that.. I think it may also help other people when faced with a similar situation.
    May I suggest something else as well. My thought when you mentioned carrying the urn in your purse. I worried that the purse may get misplaced or possibly stolen and what that would do to you. As an added insurance to have him with you at all times.. Could you put some of his ashes in a small locket type of necklace as well? I don't want to think the worst.. But if something did happen to the purse.. You would be a little less devastated if you have some ashes always around your neck near your heart.. Just a thought....

    Thank you for this beautiful post today.. Yes our cross can always be bigger and heavier...I do tell myself that daily.. For you to point that out is beyond amazing..
    Have a great day Regina..

    1. Sharon,

      I just read your post after I posted my comment...they actually make urn jewelry and some of it is quite it(it is a little thicker than traditional jewelry and it has a screw in the bottom where they fill the ashes then i think for safety measures they secure the screw with glue...the pieces really are quite tasteful.


    2. Thank you Annie.. I knew that I had seen or heard about this type of jewelry before.. Thanks for the tip!


    3. :D you are welcome... Have a blessed day!

  8. Regina,

    What a beautiful post. I too am not much into the pocketbook thing...I carry one just to hold the stuff I need, I hate the big ones I prefer the kind that go across the body so I can have my hands free with no worry of the bag sliding off my shoulder.

    Please do not worry about others judgements...What is important is what comforts you. I think I would do the same thing.

    In the fall one of my students lost her brother. she has a necklace that was designed to hold his ashes. Hers is a pretty silver infinity symbol, her moms is a heart with angel wings and her dads looks like a military doggie tag. They are all engrave with their sons/brothers nickname. She wears hers everyday and she says she feels comforted that her brother is with her all the time. I think it is nice, and if it gives you a sense of peace then all the better. (You can google urn memory jewelry they have all different types and all different designs. Some are very beautiful!)

    My friend when her husband passed away suddenly she had 4 teddy bears made from his clothing he used to wear, she gave one to each of her daughters and one to his granddaughter and one for her self. They too are beautiful, patchwork teddy bears with swatches of his favorite clothing to make up the patchwork.

    So do what you must to feel safe and have Christopher close to you. I think it is awesome the way you find to cope.

    Much Peace!
    God Bless, XO

    PS. I love the Ann Landers clip too, I have seen it before and it was nice to be reminder of it again!

  9. Dear Regina. I understand that story of the cross all too well. As you I too am the mother who has lost her son. Not quite a year yet that he has been gone, but soon that day will be upon me. The tears are a daily reminder of the deep hole in my heart that can never be filled. I would like to share a story with you also because I believe all things happen for a reason. When I was 16 now 60 I was given a charm bracelet by my very best friend whom I have also recently lost. My son had a nickname. it was Hootie. He had big eyes like and Owl:) On that day that I rec'd the bracelet there was a charm attached to it that I had never given much thought too, until the day my friend died. I found the bracelet she had given me 42 years ago, but had misplaced the charms. I had taken them off and put them away. I placed them in a plastic bag. luckily I found them! As I put my hand in the bag the first one I pulled out was a very small charm of an Owl! I have no clue as to why I was given an owl. I was a teenager and into the mini skirts and the Beatles, so why an Owl? Now I know why. It was a sign from God that someday I would have a son and his nickname would be Hootie and I was here to be his mom. As the days go by his brother has been visited by an Owl at his window 3 times. It is quite enlightening and I know that our sons are fine and in Heaven and doing just fine. There is no time in Heaven and someday we will all be together again. I believe with all my heart and soul that all things happen for a reason. I don't ask why. This tragedy has brought me very close to God. It has awakened me that this Earth is just a stepping stone and we will go one to a better place where there is no pain. Until then, we must carry on, be as strong as we can, but to grieve when the need comes over us. God Bless you and keep you safe.

  10. Thank you for your "Cross Room" story. It's extremely insightful and I love the message. It's funny how everything fits together. Everything is meant to be in it's own way. It's amazing you carried that with you. It truly was meant to be.

    While I too struggle with faith occasionally and stumble around in the midst of the situations upon us I slowly am realizing that everything that is meant to be will be. For example...

    I texted you from the University of Louisville yesterday but I didn't tell you (I figured you were a little busy, ;) that something very peculiar happened. First of all, the flight out to Tennessee. I flew out of Albany of course and the wind was absolutely insane on Thursday. During take-off, I cannot tell you how afraid my mom looked. We felt as though the wind would blow us right off the runway. Fortunately, it didn't, but once we broke through the cloud layer, I felt an overwhelming sense that my Nana and friend, Sylvia, ...maybe even Chris were all right there. I felt blessed that I was flying high with them and the feeling that I had was indescribable. It brought me to tears in the middle of a crowded plane. Yes, a little embarrassing, but I truly felt as though all those I love were flying right beside me. Next, the Louisville part. I hadn't made the connection for this one until the end of the day. The Louisville Rowing Recruitment day fell on the 23rd: my Nana's birthday. I was skeptical of being away for that, but I eventually came to the realization that life goes on and while it's okay to be sad and recognize that these days happen, it is also okay to "keep calm and carry on." That's not the amazing part. The Louisville mascot is a Cardinal, and it wasn't until we were leaving the city, surrounded by beautiful gardens and the river and the sunshine that I remembered that my nana's favorite bird was the Cardinal. Being such a centered woman, she loved gardening and birds so much. It was meant to be. She wanted me to know, on her birthday, that she was still here. It's all meant to be.
    Needless to say, on the flight back today I smiled a lot and looked out the window. If that's the view of the world our angels get, then they have a pretty sweet deal.

    Lots of love.

  11. Regina, It's taken me - yet again - all day to find the words to write to you. I am in awe of your strength and what you write about and I thank you for sharing your very personal stories with us. I had no idea what I was going to read when I saw the title of today's entry. I have welled up a few times today, just thinking about what you are enduring.

    Ally and I went to a new church today. We were invited to "come check it out" because Ally is actually playing at the church on St. Patrick's Day for their special mass. Maybe you would like to come with us? I don't know why, but I thought I would ask. It's a lovely church. I got the history of the church and the reason behind the mass on St. Patrick's Day from the Priest last week, so I was actually excited at the new opportunity. I'm still struggling with finding the right church (as discussed before)...

    Before I went to the new church, I read your blog. It weighed heavily on my heart. I wanted to write back, but I also wanted to wait until after I went to church, hoping I would hear something that would help me form a meaningful response. While I have heard of people getting necklaces or other means of ways to keep their loved ones with them, I have never seen a small urn to carry around like you do. I'm so comforted to know you have at least that much with you, besides the memories, although a small consolation, because I'm sure all of us wish this did not happen. I do love that Chris is with you. I thought back to your entry about keeping Chris' ashes at home with you, and that entry came rushing back as well, and the reasons you decided to make that decision. It just tears at my heart.

    So back to church. When the Priest started his homily he was talking, today, the first time I have ever gone to this church, about relics. (Definition time: In religion, a relic is a part of the body of a saint or a venerated person, or else another type of ancient religious object, carefully preserved for purposes of veneration or as a touchable or tangible memorial. Relics are an important aspect of some forms of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Shamanism, and many other religions. The word relic comes from the Latin reliquiae, meaning "remains" or "something left behind" (the same root as relinquish).)

    The Priest told us about how his mom had given him a lock of her hair, and how today that means so much to him, obviously more so than when she gave it to him. He said that he thought it was weird when she gave it to him, but now finds the gesture so beyond loving because she knew someday what it would mean to him. He said it's comforting to know he has a piece of her with him always. The lesson went on to teach about relics and their importance. I welled up with tears, about the significance and the fact that I was listening to this lesson just after reading your blog. I was sitting there in this unfamiliar church, with unfamiliar people (besides Ally) and I felt like he was talking directly to me. Of course Ally looked over at me with questioning eyes. I later told her why it affected me and she obviously understood.

    I've actually read, or heard THE CROSS ROOM story before. I think it's pretty amazing you still have it. The crosses we bear are given to us by God because he knows what we can handle. "God only gives us what we can handle..." It doesn't make it easy though...

    God bless.

    1. Just had to share that my "Prove you are not a robot" number was 69 when I posted above.

      I smiled, said hello to Chris and let him know I would tell you.

      Thanks Squirt for the visit...

  12. The urn is beautiful!! It took me a moment to realize you are holding it in your hand in the second picture. I love it! I'm sure Chris loves that he gets to go everywhere with you since he was such a social butterfly.

    again, thank you for sharing yourself and Chris with all of us.