Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I'm Wondering


I've been sitting here trying a little role reversal. I'm tired of being me at the moment. It exhausts me carrying this grief around all the time. I need a break. I thought I'd be you for a minute.

I wonder how you felt about the passing of Chris. Did you know him personally? Were you in his class?  Are you his teacher or maybe an extended family member? Maybe you didn't know him at all.

How did you hear about the accident?  We're you stuck in that dreadful Northway traffic? Hear it on the news?  Read an Internet post or see it in the morning paper?

What did you do? Stop and shake your head in disbelief? Cry?  Turn on the TV for more information?  Make a phone call for confirmation?  Maybe you did nothing.

You don't need to answer; I'm just sitting here mulling it over. I'm in Christopher's room...again.
I spend a lot of time in here. I stop in his doorway often to look around.
I usually talk to his beautiful senior picture. He's a really handsome boy. His features were recently changing from that childlike pudge to a more chiseled face. His chin and cheekbones were becoming more defined. I wonder how different he would look in just these past three months.
I see Chris' friends and notice physical changes in them. Maturity is pouring over them like water. They make me so proud. The Late teen years bring an awful lot of changes and I imagine the stress of all this has sped the process a bit. They handle themselves well thru the sadness.

But back to you; since I don't want to be me right now; I think I'd prefer to have your life for a bit. I just really want a break from mine, even for a few minutes. I hope you had a good morning. I'm assuming you did because that's what I'm picturing!  A leisurely shower, hot cup of coffee and a light breakfast before starting the day.  OK, I'll be a realist and guess someone needed something from you, maybe your child couldn't find his book bag or missed the bus, your spouse was crabbing about something, your sibling was pushing your buttons, you lost your keys, whatever.  Regardless of what it was, I'm gonna carry your stuff for a bit and put my grief down. It's heavy.  
I’ll take the dog peeing on the rug or realizing there's no milk in the fridge for cereal.  Those I can handle. They go away.
I wonder what your day will be like.  Classes or a full day at work?  Maybe you're a stay at home mom or dad and heading to a play group or the library.  Maybe you have sports practice or an exercise class tonight?  I once did all that.  Good memories of a full and hectic life.  I'm gonna dwell there with you for a while. Those were fun days; I like the feelings that go with reminiscing there.  That was a much lighter time in my life, busy but happy.
I'm trying to get back to those good times.  It's a challenge.  The weight of this loss can be so incredibly heavy.  Sometimes I never want to allow myself to smile again.  It helps me to remember what your days are like because mine used to be just like them. They're much different now but I do like going back in my memory bank to relive a simpler, milder time.  It helps me get past my grief and get up and keep moving.

I don't want to linger in sorrow.  I know I won't.  I have my moments though.  I'm in the midst of one now.  I'm going to finish writing as I sit here in Christopher's room and then I'm going to do something productive.  I have some notes to write, bills to pay, a dog to walk and laundry to fold.

I give myself opportunities to be down and feel sorry for myself.  It's OK.  I get back up. Today I opted to hop in your shoes for a minute.  I feel better now.  I'll continue to be me but I appreciate you sharing of yourself.  The pretending is over.  I know the reality of the situation and the magnitude of my son’s death on my life.  I just needed a release for a few minutes to regroup and regain my strength.  I pray it gets easier with each day.

I know my cross to bear is not nearly the heaviest.  I have good health and a strong mind and body. I’ll be just fine. I’ll lean on you again sometime when I'm feeling kind of weak. Thanks for holding me up today and allowing me some time in your world. You've encouraged me and you're probably completely unaware. :-)

 

Thank you for reading.

 

40 comments:

  1. I have never met your son and I found out about the horrific crash via the news....I remember standing in front of the TV in shock,horror and tears....at that point they didn't exactly know what had happened or how bad it was. That night I went to bed and said a prayer for all of those involved in the accident. When I got up the next morning....I heard the news....my heart BROKE for all of the families.How could these "kids" go to a game and not come home....who got behind the wheel when they shouldn't have? So many questions went through my mind and I became angry.....I am a mother of a 9 year old and the thought of losing my son is something that I never want to have to face.....NO PARENT SHOULD! In the days that followed I saw more and more about it from TV...to newspaper to facebook....I have followed this since the night it happened. Mrs. Stewart...you are a very courageous woman who has amazing strength. I stumbled upon your blog last week and I went back to read all of your entries. I laughed at some accounts that you remembered and I cried at others. My heart still breaks for you and all that were involved....I just wanted you to know that there are still people out here who think about you....that are a complete stranger to you but still feel as though they know you! My hope for you today is that it is a little better then it was yesterday.

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  2. I read this every day as I have said before.. So in answer to your question, I did not know Chris.. I grew up with one of your sister in laws (although I admit I have not seen her in 20 years). I also have a nephew the same age as Chris. Each day I read your blog and I feel the need to comment to tell you the impact you have had on so many lives. Can I truly say I understand how you feel.. I cannot.. Can I tell you that there are people who I love with all my heart and soul and that I would and will struggle when and if something happens to them .. yes. I wish there was someting I could do to bring Chris back.. turn back time and bring back and so many other people who are soo missed.
    Thank you as always for your thoughts ..

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  3. Good morning Regina,

    As I lay here in bed I'm awake early not because I have to be .. But because I frequently have insomnia. I'm on my ipad as I read your post .. My fiancée is snoring softly next to me.
    I usually work the overnight shift from 7 pm till 7am.. It works well for me.. And I like having my days free.

    My heart is heavy as I write this reply to your post. Your grief is such a huge burden for anyone to have to carry. So unfair!
    I want to tell you how I heard about the accident .. And how I felt.
    That Saturday night I was home.. Around 9:30 pm I'd received a phone call from my younger sister and she was very upset and crying. She was driving up the Northway to her home off of exit 9. I live off of exit 8. I was consoling her.. She got home around10 pm.
    The following morning I heard in the news about the accident. My stomach was sick. At first I prayed that my sister who had been driving the same area and nearly the same time as your son, had made it home safely. Then I thought I had been blissfully unaware the night before. Had I heard sirens? Or anything? I hadn't . My thoughts then went to the parents that had lost their beautiful innocent children the night before. How they might have been home waiting for their kids to get home from an event and never did. Why them? Then I was angry at the person who had no regard for anyone else but himself that had caused this horrific tragedy. This entire community then became one huge grief stricken area. It's all that we talked about. As details became more apparent, my anger at the perpetrator became bigger and so did my grief for the family and friends of Chris and Deanna.

    Regina.. Even though I did not know Chris... I felt like I did. He was a part of this community and he could've been the boy next door. Or my family , or someone I met at the library or in the store. He's what makes this area what it is. A fine place to raise your family and Chris was the boy next door whom anyone would've been lucky enough and proud enough to call their own.
    Xoxo
    Sharon

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  4. Mrs. Stewart, for the first time, I honestly don't know what to say. When I saw the news, originally I just shook my head in disbelief. "this can't happen here." Then, reality and the gravity of the situation set in and I don't think there was a day in December that I didn't cry. My heart hurt, like you've said in your last blog, physically for everyone. It is a strange feeling, being so hurt and upset over something that in all honestly doesn't have anything to do with you. I'm still trying to figure out why I feel this way about this. I'm still trying to push forward from my own troubles and this. I wish I had an answer about why I feel so strongly. If you want to jump into my shoes for the day, I'd always gladly let you. I don't mind. You have too much on your plate and when that happens, you share your food with your friends. Well, maybe Chris never did that, :) but you can. It's not something I smile about when shared, but you just lay your troubles on us. We will take them, if only for a little bit. I don't mind the change of pace, the change of perspective. If you need it, you got it.
    As always, your ability to articulate yourself through grief astounds me. Your strength inspires me. And, although I know you sure don't FEEL like a super hero, you are a hero to me. Be sad. Cry. Let it out. You don't always have to be so strong and stoic. However, a beautiful lady with an amazing soul once told me, "Focus forward girl. I'm sure [Chris] is fist-pumping you from heaven."

    You're never far from my prayers nor the heaviness that I carry in my heart.

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  5. Regina,

    Usually read when I get home from work but insomnia has me up early today. It's funny you mention noticing the changing looks of Chris' friends faces because I was noticing that on my own son, who's the same age, two nights ago while we were sitting t the dinner table.

    I wish there was something I could do to help ease your pain and heavy heart. Today's blog brought tears to my eyes as I thought about the pain you are experiencing and laughter as I remembered the fun when the kids were little and growing up...hectic doesn't even cover it!

    Thank you again for sharing.
    hugs and peace

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  6. Funny you try and put yourself in our shoes. I always think about being in your shoes. I do. All the time, and the overwhelming pain in my chest, the burn ofmy eyes is too much to bear. I know the pain. At just hours old, my son stopped breathing. His heart stopped. No reasoning. No cause...just...he checked out. Those 6 minutes I felt the worst pain. I was given another chance when his heart started and sweet oxygen rushed back into his lungs. He is now 11. Plays for the Junior Plainsmen. Actually, PIT just started! I do have a funny story that involves Chris. I will tell you about it soon! Anywho. Back to putting myself in your shoes...I find myself wondering how you manage. Then wonder how I would. I can't. The crushing pain is enough jist being in your place for a second, I need to jumo back into the safety of my own...I admire yor strength.

    So. My morning starts at 5am. I make lunches (one for the 35 year old boy and one for my "little guy". Walk our three dogs (yes. We are insane). Shower and make sure Trent is up and eating breakfast before I am off to work. I rush home to make dinner, clean up, then help with homework. Same thing every day. Nothing exciting or profound, but I love the routine. July will bring hectic days...football mom is a full time job in itself...and I love it. Feel free to imagine being in my shoes. I don't mind.

    On to my story involving Chris.

    Last JP Football season, like every season, the Varsity boys run a practice with the kids. So, they all broke up in groups based off their positions and worked with the kids. There was a bit of confusion as to where my son was told to go. I lost track of him, and got confused when I couldn't see him with the group he was supposed to be in.

    A little about my son (trust me..it's pivitol to my story). Was only 10, playing with the 6th and 7th graders (he started school a touch early). He also weighed in at 69 lbs! Top that off with being a bit vertically challengd.. and you have a child who was mistaken for a little brother of a Chiefs player...or a player who was supposed to be on Jr. Tackle. Trent is a peanut.

    Back to my story: I started to worry when he wasn't with the junior tackle kids by mistake our with his senior tacke group. I scanned the crowd until another mom said "He's over there!" And points to the linesmen! I didn't see him becase all their much larger bodies (both the Varsity guys and the JP gys. We has a player on our team over 200lbs!) were blocking him. They were setting up to run a play, and my 69lb boyvwas across from a boy 3x this size! Trent's coach ran so fast! We could just see him getting layed out and injured because of the need for our JP linesmen to show off for the Varsity guys! The Varsity guys (dear Chris included) can be such space cadets! They didn't even think twice about why a tiny boy, obviously NOT a Linesmen, was with them. I still laugh about it.

    I got to see Chris at our JP banquet, too. It was nice to see the Seniors...who went through JP football and on to play for Shen get their awards. Such a great bunch of kids.

    I have rambled on enough for today. I hooe the monents of overwhelming grief become easier to bear.

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    1. Sorry about the typos. No coffee yet!

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  7. Regina,
    I am not sure you know this part of my story, but my daughter and her boyfriend were at the Siena game and I was home sleeping when my phone rang and she was frantic. She was on the Northway wanting to know what was going on. They had been in traffic for quite some time and she was worried. I told her I would try to find out. I immediately turned on my tv and tried to find something on the news or on my computer. I couldn't. All the while staying on the phone with her, because she was getting quite anxious. I then had her make a call to someone who I knew would know the answer. She did and then she called me back. I wasn't expecting what she about to tell me, but when she called she was absolutely hysterical and now she was driving by and the accident. I couldn't calm her down. I felt helpless for her. She finally hung up and I thought that was the end of it. I said a prayer for whoever was in that car, because at that time I didn't know. An hour later my phone rang and now it was about 1am and it was my daughter again crying even more hysterically. She was saying, "Mom mom they were Shen students!! They were Philip's friends!" Oh mom!! Regina, my heart broke that night and tears are filling my eyes as I sit here typing this, because I personally didn't know Chris or Deanna, but I am a MOM! I immediately started texting Philip who was at his dad's house. I wanted to make sure he was ok, because I knew he was awake and aware of it. We talked for about an hour. My younger son was with me that night and he woke up and we both prayed that night! We prayed!
    Regina, you looked so beautiful last night and I so wish you could be happy again. I wish for you the pain to dissipate. I, personally, don't know what I would do though. Honestly! What you are doing by writing each day is so wonderful and please continue to lean on us when you need to! We have strong shoulders! I know I do! I don't work out, but they are pretty darn strong I tell ya!! ;)wink wink
    I sit every morning with a group of men that range from around 55 to 87 in Dunkin Donuts from 6:00-7:00 and today they asked me what I was doing. I had to explain as tears are rolling down my cheek that I read your blog each morning and that I simply adore you. They all kind of looked at me as though I need help! haha No, they understood and you may even have a few more readers soon!! :)
    Love ya,
    Laurie

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  8. I first heard of the news from my kids at work at Panera. I read the article right away n saw the news. See I work at 5am on that day n did not see the news yet. I later found a lady that works with me her son was on Chris' team! I got chills n later cried at home. I had a son 8 yrs ago n he lived for 15 days, honestly I have never been the same person since. I know I don't have all the memories n yrs to think about n I think that is a bit harder for you. Still no one should have to bury their child or have their ashes with them. They are suppose to be here to enjoy all their moments. I do have a beautiful little girl now who keeps me busy! I now feel like I'm more protective than others though, for I could never bear the pain to lose another child. I think of my son Michael everyday n sometimes it's just to much! You don't want to think sometimes because its just to painful! Yesterday was his original due date n it's strange I just wasn't my happy self n I was at work n it seemed like just little things annoyed me. In those moments being at work is a bit hard, because customers may think I'm not happy at my job. In reality I'm just a Mom who sad with memories! I guess I may not have helped you with your grief. I should say I do have good days! A lot has to do with my daughter. I was happy to see Matt n Bailey were recipients at my old school Marathon Dance! I am a marathon dance alumni! I actually had mentioned they should try the marathon dance when I saw a post about finding a good dentist for Bailey. I had mentioned a dentist to but he is in Queensbury a lil bit of a drive though. Bailey is such a beautiful young lady n so happy she is recovering physically. I'm sure mentally has to take so much time, both for her n Matt. Matt is a handsome young man as well n seems to physically be recovering. It takes time and effort to recover. Those kids seem determined though. It's nice to know Bailey can count on you to help her keep Chris' memory alive in her heart! I commend your husband n yourself, along with Deanna's parents for attending all the events that followed their deaths! That is not easy. You understand a community is honoring your child, but at the same time it's not easy to leave your house n see people, to hear I'm sorry for your loss over n over. It's that moment when your trying to process everything! On the other hand you get to hear the memories n see how many loved your son n how many people grieve for him! Those 2 kids I see touched many lives positively! I understand that God has his reasons when he takes our children, but its just not fair! They are the breaths we take everyday! We live n breath for our children! It's hard to forgive God for taking them from us, because they are our babies! I say babies, because Chris may have been a teenager, but I know to you he is your baby! I love reading your post each day! Some make me smile n others just make me cry n my heart break for you! I must go get ready for work! I guess in some way I hope I helped you! I'm not quite as good of a writer as you! Thank you!

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  9. Miss Regina,
    I had tried to comment on your Compassion post last week, but it never went through. I didn't know Chris. I read your post daily in Columbus, GA. It is usually the first thing I read when I wake up, it helps me put my day in perspective. I learned about Chris from a few facebook posts, and my mom. I am a Shaker alumni/former athlete (2003), the news was devastating. I cried, daily...for a while. Although I no longer live up north, I know the 518 is a special place. It was nice seeing the two rivals come together through an extremely difficult time, not to mention the rest of the community.
    I don't have any kids of my own yet, so I could not imagine the pain you could be feeling. However, I work as an athletic trainer at an area high school, and I love those kids, even sometimes when they get on my nerves. I couldn't imagine losing any of my athletes. I often wonder if Chris was like any of our lineman. I also wonder if he liked SEC football, he would love the atmosphere around here. I say hi to him quite a bit for you.
    As for my day today, I'm going have a quick breakfast and head to a work meeting before work. I have a little break for lunch, then I am going to do a crossfit workout with a few of our senior girls, and make sure the baseball guys are ready for their game this evening. I'm supposed to manage a Walmart trip in there somewhere.
    Anyways, you are truly an inspiration. I pray for you and your family daily....thanks for writing!
    LaToya

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  10. Regina,
    I cut and pasted the following message that I wrote back on the social media response page, not knowing if you read it or not as I had responded days later. It is very fitting for your " I wonder" request. You probably don't even realize that your strength started back on Dec 1st and has steadily grown since. I pray for you daily. Here is the post:
    Regina,
    I read your blog every day and have not responded but have wanted to. I feel very compelled now.
    I am glad that you shared with us your thoughts on social media and how you were given heads up that night in the hospital with the forethought to reach out to Jeremy and others. I am part of the "others" that night and stayed very much in tune to your messages sent to my son Brian. You see, once he "saw that the accident had happened on social media", he came to me directly in hysterics. I advised him to contact you directly and thank God you responded. He used your texts to stop anything that was untrue. Twitter helped him gather most of the football team and parents in our home by 11:30pm. We held each other, prayed with each other, cried with each other, and waited for the next text to come from you to accurately inform us. You see, these football players were also Chris' brothers - tight just like family. I had Brian follow the social media and STOP anything that should not be stated. I appreciate you staying in contact with him via the texts every half hour. People kept coming to our house and gathering to hold each other, even past football players who live in the area.
    Then you called Brian. I was holding him at 2:30 am (Brian just corrected me and said 2:03 am)as you let him know that Chris had passed and God had taken him to heaven. Brian very calmly went in with me to tell the boys. We all held hands in a circle and prayed and then just held each other for hours and cried. I stayed up with them all night and tried to help them anyway that I could. That was the night I truly became very close with the team. If it had not been for you communicating with Brian in the manner in which you did, this group would not have so calmly gathered and had the opportunity to feel each other's pain and grieve together in what was the longest and saddest night ever, one that none of us will every forget.
    We gathered for the next 3 days. Football parents started bringing food and came to make breakfast so the kids would eat. I did not go to work for a week to be where I needed to be. In those immediate days following the accident, I found myself sitting in the middle of all these kids, reading their tweets and viewing pictures and listening to music that was very consoling to them. The social media (and ALL the pictures), helped them through. I was amazed that it only took 1 hour for Brian and a couple of the players to plug their phones into the machine at CVS and print out hundreds of pictures and them put them on poster boards for the services. This would have never happened with past technology. The stories that I heard brought both laughter and tears. There is good in social media where people want to make it good.
    I had many of my friends reach out to me throughout the week to "help me" get through it so I could "help the kids". My good friend Judy brought me a plaque that said "While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about." How very true that is because that is what I learned firsthand.
    I use your messages daily to help people. You give me strength. You help me give my children strength.
    Thank you,
    Debbie Shellenback


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  11. Regina, I read your blog every morning before I see my patients. My heart is heavy for you. I understand grief. I had commented on your blogs a few times before. The thought that ALWAYS comes to me when I read your blog related back to an earlier writing, about what you wanted to be when you “grew up”. I have to say, I think about that and smile every morning. You mentioned that you wanted to go into Psychology. I think you would have made a wonderful psychologist. Just reading your blogs proves that. That is always something in your writing that I take with me through out the rest of my day, and it is a wide spectrum of different things. Whether it is a story about Christopher, or/and mother hood that I could associate with, or maybe even just arguments that I avoided with my kids because it “really wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things”. Things have happened to me during the day that may set me off, but then I’ll think back to something that you had written, and I’ll think “what would Regina do ?”. You have touched so many lives s since this tragedy. How does one say Thank you? There is one other thing that I did want to share with you. You have brought this up in previous blogs a few times. The idea of signs. – I am a true believer in it. If you have a few minuets I’d like to share this story with you.
    A few months after my mother passes away, I went to see an intuitive medium, her name is Debra. I had signed up for a reading and was meeting her at the Holiday Inn in Latham. I was not skeptical, but I was hoping all day that my mother would come through. As I pulled into the parking lot and shut off my car, I looked to my right and there was a “PALL Corporation” van parked next to me. – My mother worked at Pall Corporation for 30 years before she passed. I’m sure you have never heard of it because it doesn’t exist in the northeast. There only factory was on long Island where my family grew up. I couldn’t even believe my eyes!! When I went in to see Debra, one of the first things she said to me was “your mom is telling me that you knew she would be here, something about parking”… That was ALL I needed to hear.
    So there are NO coincidences. Our loved ones are with us everyday

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  12. I was a resident of Clifton Park but recently moved out of the area to about 40 minutes south of Albany. My family still lives in Clifton Park. The night of the accident my sister was hosting a jewelry party in her new apartment in Albany. We were all having a great time with friends and family. My other sister and mom left the party right after me and headed up to Clifton Park. They were stuck in the traffic of the accident. We headed to brunch the next morning with my parents, grandmother at the Halfmoon Diner. That was the first I heard about the accident. My sister who is a Shen Alumni of the class of 2010 had texted my dad a picture of Chris and Deanna and said they were the ones who were in the accident the night before and had passed away. I asked my mom what happened and she then told me about her drive home and how horrible the accident had looked. They both had said a prayer and did their cross as they made their way back home that night. I remember looking at the pictures and saying that Deanna looked really familiar but I couldn't place her. I never knew Chris or Deanna personally but I remember Deanna's dad. We had seen him in Shop Rite in Slingerlands, we knew he didn't belong when he was walking around in a suit, walking around with another man in a suit, looking around without a cart. I remember looking at my fiance and saying, I think he's from another grocery store and he's scoping out their prices. It wasn't until they showed him on tv that I made the connection. It didn't really hit me until I heard the entire story of the events that happened that night. I remember crying and listening to fly 92 the next workday and hearing everyone call in. The sadness and emotions that ran through me that morning I will never forget. I am a mother to 10 year old twins (birthday is today). I look at them and realize how incredibly blessed I am that god has given them to me. After reading your blog every morning with my coffee I now take more time to look at them and take a mental picture. I take more actual pictures and try and add more activities to our months to look back on. I am so incredibly sorry that you no longer have your son here on earth but I know he is with you everyday as your guardian angel. After seeing the overwhelming responses on the news, social media and every fundraiser that you have been a part of shows how amazing your son was. I think you are a strong, inspiring woman who in the passing of your son has inspired a community. Thank you so much for having your daily blog. It really is a great thing and it makes me feel better that you have an outlet.

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  13. Regina, I never had the pleasure of meeting Chris. From you blogs, I feel like I know him very well! I live in Pennsylvania but my daughter, her husband and children live in Clifton Park. I have followed this story since the beginning and I cannot imagine the horror you are going through. I read your blog every day and include you in my prayers as well. I will never forget what a great mother you are...the notes that you left Chris made such an impression on me. I chuckle every time I remember that picture of Chris holding up a note at lunchtime. I was so amused with your stories about his eating habits and his great love for food! And I can just picture him shoveling your driveway! My heart hurts for you and your pain. I am so in awe of your stamina...you keep going despite this heavy hurt you carry around in your heart. I don't know that I would have your courage. I am so glad you post on this blog, no matter how painful. It has helped me a great deal - I appreciate all of my blessings much more and have learned to not take one moment of life for granted. You are truly an amazing person and I know that Chris would be so proud of you!

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  14. I did not know Chris, but knew Deanna and have been friends with Rivers' family for many years. I heard about the accident from my son, who was a friend of Deanna's, when he got home from work that night. He told me there had been an accident but he didn't know anything else. I laid in bed and prayed for all involved. He woke me a few hours later, hysterical, crying, "Deanna didn't make it." He was one who followed all that was going on via social media, like I'm sure most young people did. I was stunned and heartbroken. My first reaction was to reach for my cellphone and text the Rivers, but there are really no words. I am still tearful when talking about that night and struggling with the sadness and injustice.

    Your blog reminds me to cherish the time I have with my kids. My daughter and some friends are home from college this week for spring break. I have spent the days cooking, cleaning up, cooking again, cleaning up some more, and not getting much sleep because they live on a different time clock! Yesterday morning, like most others, began as I wandered through the house gathering up the clothes they threw around, the dirty dishes they left behind, and all other evidence of their having been there, as they were still in bed. I started to get annoyed. But then I thought of Debbie and Brian, and of you, and all other parents who would probably give anything to have that chance again. I shared those thoughts with my husband on the phone (he travels a lot for work) and we chuckled. The kids will leave this morning and head to another student's home for the remainder of the week. I will hug my daughter so tightly when she leaves and give her kisses. To able to do that, I will pick up whatever they leave lying around.

    I admire you for being so honest and open in your grief. I am a firm believer in sharing thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. We all learn from one another. What may seem minor to someone could be life-changing for another. Thank you for writing.

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  15. Dearest Regina... Your sentences "since I don't want to be me right now; I think I'd prefer to have your life for a bit. I just really want a break from mine, even for a few minutes"... ripped at my heart this morning. I know we "chatted" a bit last week before I headed off to Edinboro University with Ally. I know how much you enjoyed your college visits with Chris and I actually felt a twinge of guilt that we were talking about my trip with Ally. I know you say that you like to hear from other's about what's going on, but in the same respect, it feels selfish a bit from my end. I don't know if guilt is the right word though. It's a weird sensation, because any Mom reading your blog has undoubtedly tried to put ourselves in your place. From what I read, we would gladly open our lives to you, for you to be out from under your grieving. I should have kidnapped you and taken you to PA with us, just for a get away! You were there with me anyway, in my thoughts and prayers! I think you would have liked the campus, but my insane family might have made you want to run for the hills shortly after the college visit.

    I can honestly say feel free to use me as a release, jump in my shoes, and in return I will do whatever I can to help you through the down times. I have told you before, I can only relate a deep emotional type of pain as a result my son's spine injury and surgeries and the fear I felt, the fear of the unknown for him as we dealt with 16 months of recoveries; surgeries and unknowns. I can relate to a deep emotional type of pain due to the torment I went through when my daughter had to leave me for visitation with a horrible person, but as you said, those moments went away and were replaced with other things. Both situations have molded me and our life to what it is now and I believe, maybe, that some of the strength and insight I gained can somehow help me help others. I know it has in the past, and if there is anything I can do to help alleviate any of your pain and grief, I will. You just have to ask. I obviously want to respect your privacy, but know, as you read this, I am there for you.

    We have a spring and summer full of bagpipe competitions coming up in some really neat places and if you would ever like to join Ally and I, we love sharing the experiences with people. Music is such a great release and some of the venues make you feel like you are in Scotland! How could you not! Just think about it. We would gladly kidnap you and take you with us. Then you can truly say you escaped for a "wee bit". We just want to help Regina.

    You are sure going to have your time filled reading all the responses. You have an outpouring of compassion and support that is pretty amazing and I hope, at least that, and all the prayers, help you smile a little. I can only imagine how hard it is to muster up a smile, but I've seen it first hand, and you have an amazing strength. I know how my heart feels and I didn't even know Chris and didn't know you until after the accident.

    I will end this reply with a quote from your friend Joel Osteen: You can’t do it in your own strength, but God is all-powerful. There’s no limit to Him. So ask God to make a way even though you can’t see a way.

    God bless Regina...

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  16. Regina,
    I heard about the accident while I was visiting friends in Syracuse. I am a Shen graduate (2003) and my mother works in the district. To say my heart broke for you is a wild understatement. I did not know Chris, but I love learning about him through your stories. I read your blog every morning. It is how I start my day. It helps put things into perspective. There are so many ups and downs in life these days - we need to take a step back and appreciate all the good things in our life. They may only be temporary. It is so important give them all we can while we have them.

    I heard a story recently and immediately thought of you. Look up the Carrot, Egg, or Coffeee Bean story. You are the most inspirational coffee bean I have ever encountered - and we have never even met! You have taken such a tragedy and inspired people across the country - young and old, students, parents, children, and 518 residents across the board. Thank you for inspiring me every day. I think about you all the time.

    Hang in there - you have the world on your shoulders, but we are all behind you trying to lift you on to ours.

    Kait

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  17. I didn't know Chris or Deanna. I'm not even from the area, I'm from upstate NY....Geneseo, NY. I remember getting on facebook and somehow one of my friends must have "liked" one of the pages for Chris and Deanna. That's where I learned what happened. I have no idea why, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. Before I knew it, I was balling like a baby. These kids faces are forever etched in my mind, my heart hurts for them and their families!! I remember being on the computer late at night and just in tears for all of you, and my husband going, "you didn't know them, why are you so upset"....I don't have to "know" you to hurt for you. I saw all the messages, the heartbreak, I saw your tears and candles lit up at the school on the football field and knew that Chris and Deanna were such a strong part of the community. They were everybodies children in a small way and even though I'm not from your area, I feel a bit like they were "my children"....I hope this makes sense~

    I have 2 young daughters, 7 and 9. Being a mother is the strongest most incredible job I have and I will do everything I can to protect my babies. I see that these kids came from such amazing families that like me, will protect their babies with all they have. You did this Regina and it broke my heart that we really have no control sometimes in how our life will play out. Things happen....life happens....and it hurts me that you have this incredible pain and you lost your son. I so wish I could carry some of it for you, just so you can breathe a little easier. I remember thinking, " How horrible....how senseless.....my god these kids are beautiful....I wish I could give these parents a hug...life is so unfair...I hope Baily and Matt are ok.." and so on. I cried for Deanna and Chris.....so young, so full of life, ready to start their future and than life had a different plan. It honestly just broke my heart and still does~

    I have never been up your way, but this story had me wishing I was part of your community. You should all be so proud of yourselves....the LOVE and support this community has is beautiful and uplifting. Reading your messages to Regina have me in awe of the human spirit and how amazing you all are. I look up to your community, and always will.

    I work every Friday and Saturday night as a RN on a busy labor and delivery floor....7pm-->7am. It's a good gig, I work 24 hours and get paid 30. I get to be home with girls and hubby during the week and that is EVERYTHING to me. Now that they're both in school, I find myself with a lot more time. I could work more, but at this point I really don't need to. I help with my grandparents a lot, during the day, exercise and various other things that take up my day. But today I'm going to take some medicine and head back to bed. I just had my wisdom teeth pulled Monday and I feel like my dentist broke my jaw and it hurts like crazy....give me some pain meds!!! LOL

    I hope you all have a good day and Regina....if I could take some of this for you, I WOULD!!! Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us and for sharing Chris with us. I appreciate you sharing your grief, your pain, the heart ache you feel and the incredible and beautiful bond you have with Chris. I wake up now wondering how your doing, how Deanna's parents are doing and wishing there was a way I can help. I do pray for you all everyday and I will continue to do so. I don't reply much, but I'm always here reading!!! I'm so lucky to have gotten to know Chris through your stories Regina and what a fine, fine boy he was. I wish for my girls to have friends like Chris and Deanna....to know such good people like these two were. Please keep writing....you make me want to be a better person and you are such a inspiration to me!!!!!! I adore you, and I adore your community and your blogs are a daily part of my life.....Thank you Regina~

    Love,

    Aimee





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  18. Hi Regina, I've always wanted to say "hello". I never wrote because I was worried that I would tell you about the things in my life that have dragged me down, and I didn't want to be depressing. But now you want to escape so I'll tell you a little about myself and the sad things in my past that have shaped the super, amazing, positive, and powerful person I am today. I'm a 43yr old mom to one and I live in Albany and I look forward to reading your posts every single day. I find it fascinating the difference between those of us that choose to conquer in the face of tragedy, and those of us who crumble. I too have conquered. I've had to search for and find peace when my sweet Grandmother was murdered, and I've had a gun to my head in a bank robbery. I actually wanted to respond to your post about your Dad a few weeks ago. I was going to tell you about my own Grandma (the one that was murdered) and how she gave my pregnant sister a book from when she was younger about how pregnant woman "should only smoke 10 cigarettes a day". Too funny! I wanted to write to you because I could then bring up my own tragedies so you would know why you amaze me, and what you give back to me - the faith, hope and belief that we can all conquer. It will eventually get easier. The pain won't be so stifling and consuming. Not that I could ever understand your pain, but I do understand your need for telling people all about Chris. Such a GREAT kid! He has got to be the brightest light of energy! I would have been so lucky to know him, and thanks to you I do, just in a different way. I'm a lot like you because when I lost my Grandma all I wanted to do was tell people about her. Everyone else's life goes on but you're in this place where you want to shout out to the world "But wait, Chris still isn't here!". I wrote letters to Oprah, Michael Jordan, and Bill Cosby. I wanted someone to honor her by making a large donation to a place she always donated to - The Center for Disability Services. The morning after she was murdered we found her bologna sandwich in her lunch box ready for work that day. She lived a meager life yet still chose to donate her hard-earned money to a good cause. I needed people to know how awesome she was but everyone else's life just started resuming to normal. So I wrote. I chose Michael Jordan because his Dad had been recently murdered, and I chose Bill Cosby because his son had been recently murdered. I knew they would understand how it felt to have someone you loved taken by the hands of another. I chose Oprah just because she was always so generous. I also wrote letters to Mayor Jennings in hopes of having an "Honorary Designation" (a plaque with the person's name) placed somewhere in the City of Albany, but that never went anywhere either. I did get a letter back from Bill Cosby's office stating he is not currently involved in things like that. That was a treat! And then I just worked on healing myself...and kept working on it, and now 15 years later I find myself to be a very gifted person because my past traumas have really opened me up to see the power that we all hold inside ourselves. I am so powerful that I can change the way I think about anything!! That is a gift. So many people walk through life and are fortunate enough to never have something happen that completely knocks the wind out of them. I wouldn't call that "fortunate" necessarily, because they don't know their own true power. I don't focus on my past, although maybe sometimes I don't realize how much I do, but one thing I do know is that I'm a fighter and I fought for my right to heal. You remind me every day of this. You remind me that so many of us are given tragedies and we have two choices - to conquer or crumble, and you amaze me because you will conquer. As you once said, you have no choice. You go girl. And you've got a team of adoring people behind you - US, your readers!

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    1. Melissa...reading your comment, I have to say I am in awe of you as well. I am sorry for the tragedy that befell your family but I love that you rose above it and did not allow it to define who you are. You sound like an amazing woman and I am sure your grandmother smiles down on you with pride.

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    2. Thank you so much Denise! Your post put a huge smile on my face. And thank you for reading about my Grandmother. It felt really good to talk about her again and to know you read my post, and took the time to send me a quick message tells me that you must be quite an amazing gal too! Looks like Regina is creating a circle of amazing people with big hearts!

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  19. Good Morning Regina,

    I didn't know your son. Though I did meet him one day when the football team was helping with a food drive. I remember him, he was so happy to help and his kindness made my sons day. I was dragging my crew (4 kids) and he took a minute to encourage my little guy who was trying desperately to help with the boxes like all the "big boys".
    When I heard about the accident I was devastated, and when I saw your son’s picture I felt the world lost a really wonderful kid. I lost my cousin and my college roommate to people driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, so I felt for the family and friends. This is such a hard road to walk. My heart and prayers are with you every day.
    As a distraction I will tell you of my wonderful and busy day. This morning I woke up at 530 switched the laundry, emptied the dishwasher, met my neighbor for our morning run, and then got home just in time for the kids to start waking up. They were fed, dressed and on the bus driven to preschool, the baby went into the playroom for a bit and I am preparing for a great day. My dad is speaking to my daughter’s class and my mom is coming over to plan my cousin’s bridal shower. I have been on pinterest pinning things to make the day special and we are very much looking forward to this happy event. The kids will be home by noon as all my kids are in kindergarten or preschool. The girls have a riding lesson at 3 and I will take the boys grocery shopping. My one year old is an escape artist and can’t sit still so going to the store is a torture mechanism. But after your stories and advice I count it as an adventure and a couple days later it is a story I can laugh about. I already have stew in the crock pot so dinner will be nice. Back to laundry, I hope Chris stops by for you today.
    Warmest thoughts,
    Sarah

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  20. OK, I'll share... Cuz this is how we "talk". And I'm not really so inclined to put a high value on privacy myself...

    Here is how I found out... Woke up my daughter the morning after, hadn't yet turned on the news, was just getting ready for the day when I heard a blood-curdling scream from the bedroom. I thought she was bleeding to death or something... I got goosebumps all over. There she was staring at her phone in disbelief finding out for the first time that her friends were in a horrific accident and Deanna and Chris were ... gone! "no, no, no..." was all we both said as we hugged and cried and hugged some more... the rest of the week had recurrences of these tears, but none so traumatic as that first moment of realization...

    How am I today... well ...there is not a day that goes by that I don't think, pray and hope for you and Debbie. Your are foremost in my heart and mind. Of course the families and my daughter as well as everyone is dealing with loss... But you and Debbie especially as the Heart of a Mother is a tender and amazing thing an I am so identified with it. Yesterday I went to see my priest to talk about the grieving process and try to better understand what to hope/expect for you and Debbie and maybe how I can best support your healing... And now know (as I did probably before) that there is no one path, no one way, no clear recipe... accept, allow, and love... that is what I offer to you... my friend... though we have not (yet) met.

    So back to today - early to rise and started working straight away on a deadline for a website launch, headed for a day full of meetings, everyone so concerned about what we will DO, less about how we will BE... varying degrees of consciousness all day as in every day that our most precious gift - our time on earth together - is being traded for "the quest" for something... always something. And still pushing forward has its own energy as we team together to launch a revolutionary new technology that promises to purify scarce water, sanitize healtcare settings, and save lives...

    My backdrop is my beautiful family... my son calling home from his (junior) year at Berklee to get insurance confirmation so he can get his eye-checkup, missing him... loving the sound of his voice (and I get to pop a CD in whenever I miss it too much cuz he's a singer/songwriter major. phew. i'm a sucker for his voice!). My daughter Kristen who is getting by very well in her Senior year. She has Nationals this weekend (Track) and every race she inks D.R./C.S. on her arm in honor of their memories and offers up her spirit to them. She just found out she is accepted to Boston College and I haven't seen her this happy in a long/long time! Danielle (a freshman at Shen) who has been smiling nonstop lately and with her dry sense of humor and (ahem) demanding at times approach keeps us both eye-rolling and laughing. And my husband... the backbone for us all. Truly supportive.

    So most moments I walk on and feel blessed... except the moments when I don't. And today is no different. I think about you and wonder if we could help more... can we help shovel, or make a dinner, or should I just keep sending love to you. I think about Debbie and pray for her endlessly that she begins the healing process and the ache of loss and loneliness is lessened. I consider my life... when will I work-out, what will we have for dinner, worry and plan for tuition for college, wonder how can I help those around me, wonder why it isn't easier to communicate across personal boundaries with co-workers and why we end up with drama, wonder what can I do more of to get to an understanding place, to reduce conflict, to build community... and I hope and pray each day that I am doing enough, being enough, and loving enough.

    That's about me... You asked... I'm sure quite boring for most people. But feel free to be me... or at least be with me in my day. Because you will be anyway!

    Love,
    Terri

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  21. Regina,

    This is one of your posts that just tears at my heart and gives me a lump in my throat!

    I first heard the news from my daughter who is friends with Bailey. She was at a friend overnight when she saw it on twitter. She texted me in the middle of the night… She was so terribly upset when she got home on Sunday morning, almost inconsolable and angry. She talked about what a nice guy Chris was, she remembered Chris from the Shaker junior prom the year before. She mentioned dancing with him in a group; he even snapped a picture of my daughter, Bailey and their friend Katie.

    I was instantly consumed with the story, I still am. I am unsure of why it has affected me so much, but it has. Perhaps it is because I lost my brother in a car accident when I was 10 and he was 20, Perhaps it is because I have known the Winds for 10 years. Maybe it is because I coach varsity softball and Deanna played against my team, or maybe it is because I used to coach JV softball at Shen 13 yrs ago, and I am friends with Dan D’Amboise. Maybe it is because I work with one of the first responders on the scene and I saw how profoundly it affected him. What ever the reasons I know I found myself crying an awful lot during the first month of the accident. My co-worker actually asked me "Why are you affected by this so much, do you know these kids personally? I think you must be menopausal!" No I don't think it is menopause that has made me feel your pain so deeply, I think it has to do with my heart, it is broken for your family and for Deanna's family and Matt and sweet Bailey!

    Oh Bailey, Bailey, Bailey…Knowing her and how sweet she is and how devastating this is for her, Dawn, Bobby and Nikki. Just tears my heart out.

    You mentioned that you don’t want to be you right now, you need a break… if I could take away your grief I would, if I had a time machine we could go back in time and change things, if I had a magic wand I would wave it, but I can’t do that all I can do is share your pain, be inspired by your strength and pray for you to have peace.

    Regina, we need you to be you! I wish I had ½ the strength you have, or ½ the inspiration you give to others everyday. You truly are a gift and although God has given you a huge task to undertake, it is evident that you my friend He has big plans for…Look at the impact you have already had on people in the 518.

    Keep your chin up and keep pushing through, your family, friends, your Sons and your Mikes are proud of you! We are ALL proud of you!!!

    God Bless, XO

    PS great picture of my dear friend Tony and Chris I texted him today that you put a picture of him and Chris on the blog...

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  22. Hi Regina,

    Thinking of you today and sending lots of love. It was Sunday morning when Stephen called me to let me know about Chris and Deanna. That was the day of my big book unveiling at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library. Dr. Robinson and school administrators were planning to come, all the kids and their families featured in the book were coming, and various members of the community. My book is about the amazing stories of young adults fighting cancer. Through my upset and sadness, I remembered Chris and you from preschool and I wondered why two more of the senior class would be missing along with my Nick. I wondered how I was going to address this audience about an already hard subject of cancer and talk about this new loss. I did and we have a moment of prayer mourning the loss of two bright young adults.

    This morning I brought Stephen to school and went to the gym where I participated in my spin class. I rode like crazy to relieve the stress of living without Nick. I ate breakfast with my husband and am now scanning in photos of Nick and his little brother Stephen for a project I'm working on for Stephen's graduation in two years. Then I'll work on raising money to help local families with cancer. My mission now that I've lost Nick.

    Sadness is always heavy in my heart from missing Nick. It will never go away, but I write through them, walk through them, hug my other son through them, and spend moments just being with Nick's spirit and I get through another day.

    I agree with you that sometimes this journey that we have been shoved into is unbearable. I miss Nick so much, but then I think of all the gifts he gave to so many in this world. I think about his journey and how I must honor it as much as I hate it. He has changed so many lives and has brought so much joy and strength to others that I just can't help but be proud of him and blessed that I have him in my life, even though different than I would have wanted.

    I'm rambling, but my perspective has shifted even though the pain doesn't. I'm able to work through my life easier, and walk alongside the sadness. Day by day, moment by moment, doing whatever you need to do to get through that low time. Read a good book, become someone else for a day. Let's see if we can get together next week. Always there for you!

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  23. Regina -
    Bless you for putting yourself out there and continuing your healing journey. Whatever it takes. I didn't know them at all. Just a member of the community. My sons do not attend the public schools here, though. A story unto itself. Unlike you, I can visit this topic and leave it as I wish. I do find it helps remind us of the fragility of life and to live life to its fullest when possible. We have struggles with allergies and therefore chronic illness, which I'm sure you would trade in a flash. I am mostly a stay at home mom with a small part-time job, but am still dedicated to making sure my boys, 18 and 11, get what they need and get them to school each morning, which means about 2 hours of driving. I make both of their lunches and one of their breakfasts. AM is a busy time. When I see your pics of Chris when little, just heading out to the bus on a typical day, or whatever it is truly heartwarming. I hope that his love will allow you to continue healing, wrap itself around you and give you the ability and permission to move on in any small way - even paying bills, walking the dog, and folding laundry -yay Regina!

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  24. Regina, my name is Sasha. I follow your blog quite often. It’s been awhile since I’ve read your blog because I have been preoccupied with my internship at YNN in Albany and my senior year of college. I am writing to you today because I felt like I could contribute to today’s entry. I did not know Chris personally. I don’t know anyone in connection to the northway crash. My roommates are from Columbia County-Hudson area. One went to Hudson high school and the other went to Taconic Hills. I remember on December 1st I was sitting in my college apartment and one of my roommates started reading a post they saw on facebook about the crash. My roommates were surprised to read about it because the person who posted about it wasn’t from the capital region. Anyway, for some reason it got me really interested in finding out what happened so I decided to research the incident on the Internet. More and more information kept popping up, updates on how the survivors surgery went etc. I couldn’t stop following the story…and I had no connection to any of them what so ever. Why was I so interested in it? I’m really not so sure to this day. I wasn’t able to watch the news on TV about it because I go to school in Oneonta. I don’t get the Albany news, so I had to follow the Albany news online. Maybe I was so interested in the accident because I had never heard of such a tragic accident like this before…Oneonta isn’t too far from Albany either—an hour and 18 at the most. I remember following the candlelight vigil on my laptop. YNN streamed it and I was in class and I remember being more worried about watching the vigil than paying attention in class. I got home and it was basically over but the next morning I was able to watch it from start to finish. I was thoroughly hypnotized about this incident to the point where my roommates told me to stop following it because it was upsetting me and giving me bad dreams but I couldn’t get myself to stop. My parents are lawyers (criminal lawyers) so I also was interested in knowing about the legal side of things. I talked to my parents about the accident and we talked about the law and just everything about the crash. I wanted to know what Dennis Drue was going to be charged with and how the process was going to work out. I followed his hearing online, press conferences, you name it. This incident really stuck out in my mind. I guess I had a small connection to the crash…my roommates boyfriend (ex bf now) goes to Siena so we were trying to find out info from him. I have a friend who lives in the capital region so I wasn’t completely disconnected from the crash or the area. I also went to Cobleskill for a year and a half so I knew the Albany area and I now intern in Albany. Anyway, now that I intern at YNN, the crash became even more real to me. I met the reporters and photographers who covered the crash and was able to ask them questions about what it was like for them to cover it and just get their reactions about it. Amazing to hear their point of views.
    Well that is my story about how I heard about the crash and my connection to Chris which was none at all but whenever I see my phone battery on 69% he definitely comes to mind. I follow you, Bailey and Matt on twitter, facebook, instagram.
    I am very sorry for your loss and just know it has affected people beyond the 518, including myself. God bless you Regina

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  25. Mrs. Stewart,
    I knew both of them from being in classes to just in passing through the hall. I read about a crash on facebook from someone who was in the the traffic just an hour after it happened, at first I didn't think of anything because these thing happen , people get in car accidents all the time. then it all spiriled it went from 5 kids dead , to all went to shen all had passed to all were in critical condition to the actual outcome. I didn't believe it I juat kept thinking no this didn't happen, it couldent have. when I heard everything I didn't want to believe on the news I played on the couch the next day unable to move. that Monday in school everything was different everything was quiet to the point I just wanted someone to talk, especially in the senior wing. it hit everyone hard even to those who didn't know them. I hope your doing better with each and everyday!
    God bless

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  26. Hello Regina,
    You asked..so here you go....
    My 3 daughters all go to SHEN HS. 9th,11th & 12th. My youngest knew Chris from football games..My Middle daughter knew Chris from being in the same gym class with him this year and because they had a bunch of mutual friends (she has been close friends with Matt Hardy since kindergarten)..she said that it was sooo funny that Chris loved gym so much...and that he was a great guy! (alot of girls like to avoid gym..god forbid they mess up there hair)...My oldest has known Chris for years and were classmates.
    I vividly remember 12/1/12...it was my moms 74th Birthday....
    On that fateful night ..2 of my daughters had friends staying over..there were at least 10 girls here ( a normal weekend around here)..the girls were all in the family room..eating snacks.. blasting music.. dancing...watching TV and of course on their phones..Many of the girls were wrapped in one of our "cozy" blankets that are a favorite among the kids!
    I was cleaning up the kitchen..the family room is attached to the kitchen...I remember laughing at the kids cause they were having so much fun...all of sudden...at approximately 10:45 pm the music stopped..literally..and one of the girls was on the phone with her mom..with a wierd look on her face...Megan hung up and we all said whats wrong ? She said "my mom is on her way home from Siena game and is stuck on the northway . theres been a bad accident...she just passed one of the cars involved and its turned over and theres a shen sticker on the car..".I watched as 10 teenage girls..went from happy to sad...scared..and worried..they all started saying...who was in the car? was it kids? parents??is everyone OK..
    MY next reaction was to call my oldest daughter...my HS senior who was staying at her friends house..i called her..no answer..I texted her...no answer...at that point i began to Panic...could she have been in the accident? SHe said she was going to Aleicias...but you know how kids are..she could have gone to the mall..crossgates her fav place..she could have gone anywhere..even though i say a million times..."if you leave where i think you are ..u need to let me know .". of course she thinks im so "annoying" and says i treat her like a "baby"..its for reasons like this, that parents need to know where there kids are. (she finally gets it now..after this)
    i asked my other kids to call or text her sister..she wouldnt "ignore " them..well...she didnt respond to them either.
    I at that point grabbed my keys...told the kids i would be right back and left the house in my PJ's to go to her friends house to see if her car was in the driveway. The whole way there, i had a pit in my stomach..i prayed that her car would be in ALecias driveway... thank God it was..at this point it was around 11:30.. i wasnt gonna go ring the doorbell and wake up the house..i was just happy her car was there and she was safe.(ends up the reason she didnt answer all of us trying to reach her was because her and alecia fell asleep around 10:30 watching a movie..(that NEVER happens!).the next day she called me at 7 am and said "mom ...what is wrong..why did you and my sisters and all there friends call and text me 100 times last night..we were sleeping..." i told her about the accident,,she had no idea...she hadnt logged on to FB or twitter yet..it was only 7 am!she had no idea..She was so sad..and upset..)
    Well..when i knew her car was where it was suppose to be ..I went .back to my house...when i walked in the door...i see all 10 of those kids..sobbing...hugging eachother...while i was gone.....one of the kids dads who was a cop called..and said he had heard info on the scanner and called to say that it was shen kids..then within minutes after that..the kids heard about details as the posts continued.The kids in that room were all friends with at least one of the kids involved.

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  27. Part 2 of above post ..too long to publish..
    Not only were my kids and their friends devestated and sad...but i began to sob thinking of what these poor parents and families would have to go thru. My sister in law was killed in a car accident in 1986 off of Wolf Rd in albany... she was 18 years old. she got hit by a drunk driver.I know the pain my kids dad and my kids grandparents have gone thru since that day.By my kids Aunt Kimmy dying..that made there dad an only child. Kimmy was alot like Chris & Deanna. WOnderful.. smart..enthusiastic,, kind person...it was her senior year too...and she was just accepted to St Rose in there nursing program..Because of that my kids never had any cousins on there dads side..Even though they never knew her, they knew the pain that it caused and still causes their dad and grandparents..SO...this accident hit me on a personal level.
    Because the kids were friends with my kids..Plus i know the devestation loosing a child causes.
    I have never seen such sad kids in my life. those kids stayed up all night. they were devestated. Life as they knew it would never be the same.
    You see , most kids at that age, think they are invincible. they didnt know anyone there age who had been involved in a tragic accident.

    Not only were my kids and their friends devestated and sad...but i began to sob thinking of what these poor parents and families would have to go thru. My sister in law was killed in a car accident in 1986 off of Wolf Rd in albany... she was 18 years old. she got hit by a drunk driver.I know the pain my kids dad and my kids grandparents have gone thru since that day.By my kids Aunt Kimmy dying..that made there dad an only child. Kimmy was alot like Chris & Deanna. WOnderful.. smart..enthusiastic,, kind person...it was her senior year too...and she was just accepted to St Rose in there nursing program..Because of that my kids never had any cousins on there dads side..Even though they never knew her, they knew the pain that it caused and still causes their dad and grandparents..SO...this accident hit me on a personal level.
    Because the kids were friends with my kids..Plus i know the devestation loosing a child causes.Its been 3 months...In those 3 months..I have gotten to know the Winds..and have seen how strong and amazing Bailey is..Her mom Dawn is a pillar of strenght and support for Bailey..The Rivers...The Hardys..and The stewarts are forever connected ..I have seen these familes attend the many fundraisers that have gone on..with so much appreciation in their hearts... I have seen this town...come together in a way i really didnt think was possible. In a school district where there are over 700 kids in each grade...and over 10,000 kids total (K-12)..we arent typically a "cozy" place where everyone helps those in need...guess what..we are now! we are all connected ..we can no longer look at things like we did before.

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  28. Part 3 of above post.
    So yes REgina..I was deeply affected. And i think you are seriously one of the most amazing people i know. I know you cant understand why we all think you are so AMAZING..let me tell you some of the reasons...you have shown all of us...the love of a mom and her son. You have shown all of us..that as strong as you are..sometimes you cant be so stong and you need to lean on others for support..and thats ok. You have reminded all of us to stop and enjoy the moment. STOP stressing about the small stuff.
    You have shown us that as tragic as this is...you are doing everything in your power to preserve chris's memory. You are personally involved with the details of the scholarship fund...you are living your life the way your amazing son would want you to,..even when im sure some days you feel like crawling under the covers for a while. Regina, you are conducting yourself the way everyone of us would want to be strong enough to do if we were in your shoes.
    today I watched Katie Couric show .. she had on families from the "newtown shooting". What i learned from that show was when the parents spoke who lost children in teh Conneticut DEcember tradgedy..they said that what they would like parents to do is "imagine if the child who died was your child"..at first i was taken aback...just hearing those words were painful...the reason they said this was "if more people imagined what it would be like if they lost there child...then maybe each of us would live our life differntly.." it got me thinking that if we all thought about what if it was our kids in that car on DEc 1.....maybe no one would ever drive recklace..maybe no one would ever drink and drive..maybe no one would ever text and drive..maybe no one would ever take life for granted. Hearing that from the mouths of these grieving parents today on TV got me thinking about why it is that so many of us...are so affected by this tradegedy,,,its because all of us moms can imagine..as hard as that is..how we would feel if this was us.
    as the months and years go by these families are going to need our support ..and I hope that all of us continue to help in anyway we can.......
    God bless you regina..
    i will never forget..


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  29. I hope you know how truly inspiring you are. It is evident that Chris has touched the lives of so many of the people that he knew, but if you did not have the courage to speak out about his character- illustrating his life through your beautiful stories and photos, than countless people who would otherwise have no connection to this tragedy may not have shifted their perspectives on life. I am speaking for myself, but i'm sure I account for many others when I say that your son has been guiding my thoughts, offering me a newfound appreciation for life since the day you began this blog. It's not that I haven't always realized how lucky I am, but I never paid much mind to the daily details that define my family's story. My brother is 18, a freshman in college and a linebacker on his school's football team. He too has passed what seems like every milestone you describe in Chris's athletic journey. I have never thought about my family the way I have over the course of the past three months and I want you to know that you and your son have singlehandedly shifted my perspective.

    It is not fair that such a tragedy should strike such a good family but it seems as though, while you are writing this blog for theraputic reasons, God is also inspiring you to do so because Christopher's story is one that was intended to be told. Instead of closing your son's book- you chose to write a new chapter and I couldn't imagine that you could do him any justice greater than to allow him into the hearts of thousands of others.

    Obviously you are going to have your moments, but I hope you are not too tired to be yourself through all of this- because through all of the grief, it is you who is channeling all of his positive energy - allowing him to touch the lives of people he probably would have never gotten to meet. His work here on earth is not done, in fact, it is more far-reaching than I'm sure he would have ever imagined possible and that is because of you.

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  30. Dear Regina, I was utterly shocked to hear about Christopher's accident. I knew Chris in middle school and was a monitor at his school..I had him in study hall and lunches. He was a joy to know. Every description you give of his behaviors and amazing larger than life personality are truly confirming to me what I have always thought of him. One time we were chatting in a hallway and he told me that I kinda reminded him of his mom....I never forgot that ever...and now I am so very proud to think he even put me into your realm...He told me how great he thought you were and was not at all ashamed to proclaim his love for his mom!!! This from an 8th grader--Amazing!!! My heart and prayers will always be with you as you walk this path.....love from -another mom

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  31. Thank you for sharing.
    I do not know you (although I have seen you out and about and recognized you. I thought about saying hi but didn't know if that would be "weird" for you.)I heard about it from my sister in law. She also has a 17 year old son. His life is very similar to your son's but he is a basketball player. I saw her and she was very shaken by it and we both talked and talked about it, trying to make sense out of a senseless situation.
    Fast forward to the night of the memorial at Shen. My sister in law and I happened to be driving on the northway that night and as you'd guess it was bumper to bumper traffic. Now this was in Colonie area, not even that close to Clifton Park. While driving I didn't realize that was why there was so much traffic. We are sitting in the car and I look around and everyone else is sitting in theirs just patiently waiting. I commented to my sister in law that no one was beeping, no one was angry, no one was trying to get around anyone...everyone was just sitting patiently and waiting. She said that it was the night of the memorial and that was probably the cause of the back up. We sat stunned. I felt like we were all just part of something right there on that highway. Just paying our respects quietly, even if it meant everyone driving a little less angry.

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  32. Regina, I heard about the accident on FB first, then the news to confirm what people were posting about. My heart just broke of course. All I could think about was the parents of these kids. I discussed it with my husband, and cried, as we talked about how shocking it must have been to receive that news. How you may have just been out Christmas shopping, and having a nice evening, then to be told of this. As a mother of two young boys and 9 mths pregnant with my daughter at the time, my heart and mind immediately felt empathy for everyone's parents involved. Every child becomes my own. I lay in bed with my 4 yr. old son for the next few nights when he asked me to "rest with him" and stared at his sweet, sleeping face and cried. All I could think about was that you probably did this same exact thing with Christopher as a little boy, and that you'd never imagined where you would be now. I stared at his face and thought about him 13 years from now, and something similar happening. I prayed for you and your family, as well as Deanna's, and continue to. You are an AMAZING woman. This post literally gave me chills, as I thought about my chaotic, yet pleasant day as a stay at home mother to my small children. I share in your grief for your wonderful son, and pray for your continued strength.

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  33. I read about your son's death on Dec 4th on the Yahoo News. I was sitting here waiting to go to my dad's wake and crying and feeling horrible for myself.. Then I read about the accident. I cried for your son and the girl. and the families and I thought ok Donna.. you lost your dad but he had lived a long good ife.. Chris was only 17.. Made me realize that there is always someone worse off than me.. I still cry often for my dad. And I cry reading some of your posts as well....Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us..

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  34. I know I can speak for the rest of us when I say that I had heard of the accident with an already aching heart,from the Sandy Hook tragedy. That alone, felt like too much bare. I had read Facebook posts about Shen kids involved in an accident, but did not realize until the following day that there had been fatalities and serious injuries. It immediately brought me back to my sophomore year in high school, when 2 close friends of mine were killed in a car accident on their way to take their SAT exams. I had posted my condolences - and how it brought back that very painful time - as my Facebook status . So many of my friends replied with the same feelings. "It's like re-living Jenn and Shakira's accident all over again.". My heart was so heavy for all involved. I especially sympathized with Chris and Deanna's friends, peers, teachers, and Shen as a community. I thought back to the days that followed personal loss. It ROCKED our tight knit school and community. The counselors that provided support at our school. Attending my first and second viewings ever, at the age of 15 in the same night. The emotional and mental struggles that I experienced, trying to come to terms with the finality of it all. Their faces, smiles, and voices, branded in my brain. This was SO much to sort through at my young age. I knew exactly what Chris and Deanna's friends were feeling. No child that age should have to bare such a tragic loss.
    Monday morning, it was back to work. When I got to my desk, my friend called me to hers and said " you know that accident over the weekend? It was mike Stewart's son". No. No. No, no, NO!!! I thought of the large framed picture on mikes desk. Omg!!! THAT is where I had seen his face before! When I saw the news I thought he looked so familiar. Months before the accident, I had become better acquainted with mike through the social committee at work. I was even more heartbroken to learn that this loss was closer to home than I had thought. I held my hand over my mouth for a good ten minutes, shaking my head no. Tears flooded my eyes, and I was literally shaking. I had an ache in my stomach, so badly - and it lasted days. I was constantly on TU.com reading coverage and browsing through pictures. I couldn't control the tears. I can say with 100% truth that the televised vigil was THE most emotion rocking thing I have ever watched in my life. I was sobbing uncontrollably, even long after it had ended. My sister in law texted me the monday after the accident and asked me if I had heard about it. She told me that she could not stop crying all day on Monday. And she doesn't know Chris, Deanna, or either family. She is just one of the many people heartbroken from this horrifying tragedy. I attended Chris's funeral, as my mother in law served as a Eucharist minister. Regina, I so badly wanted to hug you. As a mother, I put myself in your position - and the pain was just too much to fathom. I still do, and it still is. And that is only what I can imagine. I admire you so much. I told my friend who lost her daughter as well in December, about your blog recently, and I truly hope that she will check it out. Everyday, through your unthinkable loss, you provide all of us with such great gifts. You have allowed us into your world, to get the know Christopher (and what a pleasure that has been and continues to be), provide us with such a positive example of coping - whether it be an extreme loss, or the day to day small stuff, and most importantly, PERSPECTIVE. You remind me to slow down, and smell the roses! When my house is a mess, laundry needs to be done and my Daughters asks me to play with her - I let everything else wait. I say "Mommy's busy" far less. You remind me, everyday, that life is too short. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and to be happy in this moment, because this moment is our life!
    As always, my prayers are with you and your family.

    Ryann Walters Alvarez

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  35. Regina,
    I am so wishing that I could reach through my phone and take away your pain. I found out about Chris and Deanna from my daughter. I found out about the accident that night before I went to sleep but there were no details. I woke up to my daughter standing next to my bed crying. I asked her what was wrong and she told me. We sat together hugging and crying. My heart goes out to you as I said I wish there was something I could do to help ease your pain. All I have are words. My thoughts are with you and God bless.

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  36. I'm late in commenting, but I wanted to say I heard about it watching the news, like many people in the Capital District and beyond. I instantly started crying, although that is not my usual reaction to horrible news about people who I've never met. I instantly contacted my own children, 18 and (at the time) 22, to tell them if they had heard the news or seen any posts on facebook, and reiterated to them how much I loved them and that these kids were not doing anything wrong and yet still this happened. I started praying for you and all the families and I haven't stopped for three months. I follow Bailey on Twitter and feel happiness when I see her having good days and having some fun, and I read Mrs. Rivers' facebook posts which break my heart as I see her pain being still so raw, though I know yours is too, you just both have different ways of grieving. I make it a point to read all your blog posts and catch up on them when I can't read them daily. I'm grateful that you give yourself time to feel whatever it is you need to feel and that you don't sugar coat anything - for yourself or for any of us. I am also grateful that you have been receiving signs (I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you heard Christopher stomping around upstairs!!!) and I pray that Mrs. Rivers and her family are also comforted in such a way. I definitely feel as though the community is (for the most part - of course there are always a few imbeciles and that's all I'll say about that) forever bonded together from this and I am certainly proud to be a part of the 518. I hope and pray that you and your family continue to learn how to navigate your new normal, and I certainly take nothing for granted anymore and thank God every single day for my many blessings.

    Hugs and foot stomps to you, :P
    Jen

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  37. I'm a little late in commenting, but haven't had a chance to until now (even though I had read this blog entry shortly after you posted it). I've been a quiet reader up until now. I heard about the accident at church. I'm the Youth Bells choir director at Shen UMC, and direct two different bell choirs (grades 6-8 and grades 9-12), as well as a chime choir (grades 2-5). My youth bell groups were playing in church that morning. Because we have two bell choirs and two services, each choir plays one service. The older group was playing at the 9am service that morning, so I arrived at church around 8:10am and some of my kids (I always refer to them as "my kids", even the 18-year-olds!) were already there. One of them asked me if I had heard about the accident, and at that point I hadn't yet. It was shortly before then that everyone found out the names of the teens who were involved (through the miracle of facebook). My older group has 16 kids in it, all but 1 being Shen students, and 5 of them being seniors (including Brian Shellenback. Mary and Emily are also in that choir). Most of my older choir (especially the older kids), knew Chris, Deanna, Bailey and Matt in some way. Shortly after I arrived to church, I had received word that the Shellenback kids would not be at church as they were home with the impromptu prayer vigil that the Shellenbacks set up at their house. We were already going to be missing one or two other kids that morning due to illness, and given how grief-stricken my group had become (myself included), we decided not to play that morning. Instead, we sat in the service and we prayed and cried together. Our pastor said a special prayer during our prayer time for Chris, Deanna, Bailey and Matt. While that was not what was planned for that morning, it was what was needed.

    I have a 7-year-old daughter, Skylar, who was keenly aware of what was going on. Most of my kids have been in my choirs since they were in elementary school, so they've all known Skylar since before she was born, and she knows all of them as well. That morning, she knew how upset everyone was, and anytime she saw one of my kids crying, she'd go up to them and give them a big hug. It wasn't until Monday morning when I brought Skylar to school that I realized I had even more of a connection, specifically with the Rivers' family - Skylar attends Okte, which is where Deanna and her sister went to elementary school (as did I when I was that young). That week, when each day had a certain color people were asked to wear to show their support, my daughter proudly wore the specified color. She'd ask me every morning what color she should wear and what it stood for.

    Having graduated from Shen myself, I can't say enough how proud I am to be part of such an amazing community. Shen has been criticized for being such a large school district, but the accident proved that no matter how big the school, no matter how big the community, everyone can come together to offer support to one another.

    I'd also just like to say that I am a big fan of your blog and enjoy (well, maybe enjoy isn't the word, but I hope you know what I mean) reading it each day. While it provides a sense of coping and healing for you, it also provides an outreach to so many.

    Hugs to you,
    ~ Michelle

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