Thursday, March 7, 2013

Follow Up

Well, I have to say your response to my blog yesterday was completely unexpected. I had no idea my words would trigger so many replies. To say I was stunned is an understatement.
I had debated with myself to actually even post it. I had this little tug of war internally because I knew the post was not uplifting and I feared I would cause you a bad day. I dread being down when I write but it would be unfair and a total cover up if I didn't speak from my heart at the very moment I was typing.
I can tell you I was torn about what I wrote. Yes, it was exactly what was on my mind but I was scared and feeling quite vulnerable that you would think I'm weak. Truthfully, many times I am. You probably already figured that out!  I had no idea so many of you would feel compelled to write back. I really had myself convinced that the blog was going to float into oblivion as a total downer. You all surprised me.

As hard as many of your responses were to read, they also help me to understand how you faced the night and the next morning and all the days after it. I really didn't expect the exchange between us. I appreciate that you went back in time to that night to recall where you were and what was happening. I actually get a better bigger view of how it has affected you.

You validated my feelings and I am thankful for that.  I don't like writing posts that drag us to dark places.  This whole writing thing is so brand new to me still that taking chances and putting my feelings on the line is frightening.  I didn't start this blog to make friends; I started it really for my own selfish reasons to talk about my son, his death and my life.  It seems I have made many friends now and for that I'm grateful.  My intent was just to verbalize and create on paper some of my memories so my son wouldn't go away.
I was actually doing really well yesterday. I had a good day and then went to the fundraiser at the 99 Restaurant. Maybe I was just crashing down after the emotional high of visiting with friends and family and the community of supporters. It was a long night and I do tend to collapse after big events.
Well, things today were quieter. I spent some time sorting thru Christopher's "baby box". I have one for each of the boys and it's loaded with things from the time they were born right up till now.  

I was looking at his Baptismal candle, first spoon, hair from his first haircut, his first shoes, stuffed animals from his crib, uniform shirts from soccer and baseball and bowling, report cards, school writing projects, class pictures, working papers, etc. I sifted thru stacks of tests and reports Chris wrote.  I'm glad I have it all at my fingertips.  It may not be organized but it's in one spot.
I remember from time to time Chris wanted to look in his box.  He'd yank the rubbermaid tub out from under the bed and drag stuff out and laugh about the silliness of a paper he wrote or he'd think it was so funny that he was so small when he'd look at some of the clothes.

Last summer I showed Bailey the box.  We took off the cover and I was pulling things out for her to see.  She thought it was so cute that I had all these things stuffed away.
We cracked up as she checked out his newborn photos and I went on to tell her how he never slept and was so incredibly nosey because he thought he was missing something if he took a nap.

Chris did his typical eye roll at us but he wasn't embarrassed, it didn't bother him a bit for us to giggle and laugh at his photos, his face rashes or his favorite books and toys.  He even had some memories to share as he saw the items once again.

I'm glad I took the time to reminisce in Chris's baby box today. I had mixed emotions looking in it but joy won out for sure. How nice to have a treasure trove at my fingertips with oodles of memories physically available to hold and view.

A big thanks and hug to you too. You embraced me yet again when I was really afraid to hit the send button on my blog post. It is absolutely true that when you give - you receive in abundance back. I am grateful for your kindness and your friendship.


Thank you for reading.


  1. I am so glad that you ended up having a better day. I was really worried about you. I thought about you all day and wondered, "Is Mrs. Stewart having a better day? What is she doing right now?" I hoped you were doing things that made you happy. Apparently, you were. I'm glad for that.
    Occasionally, I've sifted through old stuff that my mom has kept as well. I love looking back on old school projects especially. I remember one little writing project I did in particular...
    I always loved to write, ever since I was just a little pip squeak. I remember one assignment in the first grade. I don't know what the prompt was, but I ended up writing a story about a lady bug family who went to an amusement park to ride all the rides. I was OBSESSED with the name Michelle for some reason, I remember. It makes me laugh just thinking about it! Anyway, as I recall this lady bug family had a grand old time, and while I was writing the story, I kept visualizing how the family would get down the rides. I had a pretty active imagination. I can still remember what I saw in my mind, although I can't exactly get the words out. Well I went through the box and found the story, bound into a little book with string and the paper was lined with huge wide-ruled lines on the bottom with those dashes across the center (remember?) and the top was free for my illustrations. Now, not only did I think I was a writer, but I also thought I was an artist. Let me tell you, as a first grader I was far from both of those! It was cute to read the story over again and have the memories flooding back to me. It was a interesting to remember what I had envisioned for my lady bug story, but what actually got down on paper was about a fourth of what I wanted to.
    I like doing stuff like that to see how far we've come.

    I'm glad you took a moment to do that. As healing as I'm sure it was, I know it was probably difficult. I often times wish I could jump inside one of those boxes and travel back in time. I'd appreciate those times more. It's really true: You don't know what you've got till it's gone.

    Keep Smiling!

  2. Regina, I thought long and hard yesterday morning about telling you what I though and felt when I first heard but I felt that I would make things worse for you, so opted not too. Glad the responses helped you and I can say I went to the candle light vigil with my daughter and did not allow her to go with friends by herself for numerous reasons. Just know that we always think about your family and the Rivers family and pray for you in my prayers along with my family members. I hope you have a great day and thanks again for sharing ! (((Hugs)))


  3. Regina,
    I was worried about you yesterday as I am worried about you everyday! I know you are amazing, but I do know you are human. I also was worried about relaying my story of that night, but that was my experience and my children's experience. Nothing compared to your's, however. I am so glad you hit the "send" button. I hope it has given you some answers you were looking for. You, my friend, have given us strength to get through this tragedy. It is through YOU that we in the 518 are beginning the healing process. THANK YOU! Not a day goes by that you, and the other families are not in my thoughts and prayers. GOD BLESS!

  4. Regina, I'm not surprised you got so much feedback yesterday. In fact, I was wondering if you would ever get a chance to read it all. My day was a bit disappointing yesterday because I actually took a bit of time to think through and write an impassioned response and just when I was going to sign off, my computer blitzed and it all disappoeared. I was already running an hour late for work (flesxible shcedule, not really a problem, but still) so I couldn't take the time to retype it all and the opportunity to get back to it just never came. I've come to the conclusion that perhaps what I wrote was too much and it wasn't meant to be. Some other time. But I kept you in my heart and prayers all day, as always.
    As for today, in my opinion, you should not worry or feel bad about what you post, even if it's a downer. This is YOUR blog, for you, and the purpose has always been clear. I appreciate that you have accepted us all as new friends in this capacity, and I definitely get a deep fulfillment out of this cyber relationship, but you don't owe me anything. You carry a heavy enough burden, so I say let yourself of the hook off that one! :-)
    I love to see that Bailey had gone through the baby box while Chris was alive. That's the kind of thing a mom shares only with a very special girl. Everything I have seen and read show me that they really did have a true loving relationship, deeper than the average 17 year olds. It warms my heart to know that Chris was given the opportunity to experience that in his lifetime. Beautiful baby, beautiful young man, beautiful angel. I wish you a wonderful day today, full of light and love. Thanks for sharing. -Anne

  5. Dear Dear Regina!!! I think all of us expect you to have some "down" blogs, and would only think you were normal for having them! Gosh, you are a MOM! Mom's are the strongest people I know, and have the ability to shoulder so much. But also have a hearts so tender and fragile. I love that you started this blog as an outlet and feel safe to share with us and give us the opportunity to reach back. I really appreciate you for sharing Chris with us, so those of us who cared enough to CARE have the chance to "talk" to you and send our love and support.

    I just spoke with a friend last night who just recently had a miscarriage. I haven't seen her in a few months and it was just long enough for her to be pregnant and miscarry. I told her she could have called me, I would have been there for her and she said "I just curled up in bed and shut everyone and everything out..." It made my heart break for her. I know every grieves in their own way and own time so no one can judge or should judge. It just tugs at my heart when I cannot help someone who is so sad. Your blog helps us see into a part of your life now that I know, since December 1, I would have always worried about, or think about, and definitely pray about, and now I have the ability to reach out and at least check in on you. I know we only see a glimpse on a daily basis, but it's more than I could have ever asked for. I've told you before, when I hear of a tragedy like what happened with Chris, Deanna, Bailey and Matt, I have a tendency to be uneasy and sad at not knowing how the families are. You have come into my life for a reason, and for that I'm so thankful.

    When you wrote: You don't need to answer; I'm just sitting here mulling it over. I contemplated what to write. I wondered if I should recount how I heard, or when or where I was... or if I should focus on another part of your blog. The putting yourself in my shoes part won over. I thought focusing on that would reach you on a different level. I actually think I have recounted some of my experience with the news and days following in past blogs. But yesterday I wanted to focus on helping you from here forward and offering my support. I wanted to let you know you are welcome in our lives anytime, anywhere, if you so chose. You are welcome to escape and join our crazy if you ever dare {insert evil smile here}.

    My prayer for you on the hardest of days is called

    Strength for a Friend

    Lord, I come before you today knowing that all power is in Your hand. I know that you are the Lord and that you care for your people.

    Right now, my friend is struggling with a difficult trial. I can see her strength is faltering, Lord, and know that you have all of the strength that she needs.

    I pray that you will reach down and touch her right now wherever she is at this moment. Let your presence fill the room where she is and let her feel an extra portion of your strength that can help her to get through this day.

    She needs you now, Lord, and I thank you in advance for meeting her where she is and shoring up her strength during this difficult time.

    In Jesus name. Amen.

    God bless Regina, and thank you for sharing more pictures of Chris and sharing a little more of his sweetness with us. It's amazing to me how through the years it was so obvious his "main" look did not change. What a beautiful child...

  6. Regina, I didn't get a chance to respond yesterday, but I wanted to. When I starting typing up my response, the words just poured out of me. Then, since I hadn't posted before, I had to create an account. Then, it was too big to post... But as far as depressing me, the answer is a definite no. It was uplifting to me to write it all down. I have been reading your blog all along and have found comfort in your words these last 3 months. I'm not surprised by the feedback. I believe all of us love to hear your thoughts (on good days and on bad). It keeps it real. My prayers are with you, Mike & Jeremy. -Mel

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  8. Hi Regina,
    I just created an account on here too so I could comment here rather than just on Facebook (I'm still trying to figure it out, as you can see since I deleted this post while trying to edit it and had to repost it...)

    I too was going to reply to your post yesterday, but was unsure of what to actually write. I originally heard the news in the morning via a Facebook post by my friend Dawn who's son is on the football team, and then saw the email from the school district. I was brought to tears by the news. I honestly did not realize until later in the evening Sunday, that it was you, our previous neighbors that had been affected. A memory of Chris (I had never known his name when we lived there) walking home flashed into my head. To this day I still have that image in my mind, of Chris walking home (it must have been winter because he was walking in those large snow banks that the snowplows leave at the end of the driveways). He was probably about elementary school age maybe? I'm not really sure. We moved there in December 2002 (I think your friend Colleen was the original owner of our house there.) I started staying home when I had my first son in 2004, so maybe it was around then. I know I saw him outside many other times, but that is the image that stands out. I am sorry I never formally met you when we lived there. I guess our paths just never really crossed. I admire your kindness, honesty, and strength. So, 3 kids later, in a new neighborhood, and back to work part time after staying home for a number of years, I think of you and read your posts daily. You remind me to not take things for granted, even the stressful, hectic moments of everyday life. I hope I can help you by letting you know that you are in my prayers, and that even though we never met, I am thinking of you.

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  10. Regina,

    I read your blog because it is "real" I would never expect it to be just upbeat; I am here for the good, the bad and the ugly. I reply just my thoughts, I don't know if what I have to say helps, I just want you to know that I care and I hear. There have been times I have contemplated my reply as to whether or not to post it and whether it would be well received.

    Please know that if you are having a good day, bad day or indifferent day (if that makes sense) we are here to support you and listen. We are here to laugh with you, cry with you and try to wrap our heads around all that has happened. We read because we choose to be connected with you, and in some way to try and take some of your pain away and make it hopefully more bearable for you. This IS your blog, and if you start worrying about what you put in it, then it no longer belongs to you, and it will fail to serve the purpose Mike set it up for you to do. If someone doesn't like what you blog about they always have the option to stop reading. No one here is forced to read your blog, we all choose to because we care.

    You are sort of like the “Receiver of Memories” in the book the Giver, by Lois Lowry. We can not ever truly appreciate the good memories you have shared with out with out understanding the painful experience that cause these memories to be so spectacular. In other words, with out knowing or experiences pain…we will never know truly feel the Joy. (How can we enjoy sunshine if it never rains?)

    You are doing a great job considering your new “assignment” one you definitely did not sign up for! Please be at ease to express whatever you are feeling that day, and please know our hearts are with you no matter what. I am speaking in the general sense when I say we; I am assuming others feel like I do…

    You are doing great, keep being you, and stay real like you are!

    God Bless, XO

    PS this is one of those hmmm should I post, this post... :)

  11. Hi Regina,

    I agree with everyone else... Keep it real. Those of us that read this blog.. Read it because we care. We want to know what you're thinking. We want to know how you feel about our responses. Are they helpful? Are they too much? If they at all validate what you may be thinking.. It makes us happy. BUT.. This blog isn't for us. Its for you. You started this to help you cope with all that you had inside of you. We don't want this to become another burden to carry. You're not responsible for bringing us up or down. That's not your worry. I want this blog to remain therapeutic for you. At the end of the day.. We all answer to ourselves and God. I'm responsible for my happiness. That's my burden.
    If you need to get angry.. Get angry. If you need to be cathartic.. Do it! This is your therapy. What kind of friends would we be if we just stood by you in only uplifting times? Lean on us. There's enough of us to take some burden off of you.. There only one of you. Be good to yourself Regina. We really do care!

    1. Amen,Sharon!!!!! You worded this perfectly!!!!!

  12. Regina,
    I was reading your blog today from the emergency room and so could not respond immediately (everyone is fine... Kristen just had a fainting spell that ended in a fall and few stitches). But I did have time to read you blog and shared pictures of Chris with Kristen while we waited... and it brought teary smiles to both of our faces. And then I had time to read the responses of all of your dear friends. We all seem 100% aligned on this score... Our wish is to receive you as you are. All "light" is just not realistic. Give us the honor of trusting that we have the reserves that you need right now. It is our gift to ourselves to be in connection and solidarity with you as you bear this cross. "I love you and you are mine"... I'm sure you know this hymn. Allow for your own vulnerability, and know that we are here... servants to truth and love. Be unafraid of your own vulnerability and weakness. It's ok! Be you. Be love. We are here!

  13. Regina - We support you as you are for us please don't hesitate to post something that may be "down" or "sad" or as you put it pulling us into the darkness. Everything you wrote yesterday touched me so deeply because those are all questions I asked myself when my Dad passed away. Terri says it so well Its OK, be you, be loved and we are here!

  14. Regina,
    I would never think of you as weak. I think that you are one of the strongest and bravest people. I am so inspired by your courage. Looking at all the photos of Chris you posted brought a huge smile to my face. He was such an adorable baby. I have a huge rubbermaid tote with all the kids artwork in it's. My kids are like why did you keep that and I tell them because you made it's. I get an eye roll and a whatever. I can't wait to see what else I find when I have to start packing the house up in the next couple of months. Eighteen years of stuff need going through. I am glad you had a better day. Thank you and God bless.

  15. Regina,

    I did not get a chance to read your blog yesterday. It was a very busy week and I sat down with my tablet and promptly fell asleep...LOL!! Nothing like my Friday nights of yesteryears! I certainly do not read your blogs expecting them to be upbeat all the time. I read them because you write from your heart! I laugh and cry as I read your blogs. I believe you are one of the strongest people I know. Your courage and grace in the face of this tragedy amazes me. Plus you try to be positive and smile because you know that's what Chris would want. If you want to blog and be "weak", you go right ahead. You don't need to be strong and stoic all the time, although I think it's your German roots and you get it from a great role model, your mom. But go ahead let us lift your weary shoulders, we are here for you and we have your back!!

    Like you, I too have a rubbermaid container full of memories for each of my kids! My boys all give the eye rolls when I pull them out not my daughter. Funny, though they all look at their stuff!

    Thanks for sharing the pictures and your story.
    hugs and peace