Saturday, March 23, 2013

Painful Simple Things

I'm sitting here watching Remember The Titans on TV.  Of course it reminds me of Chris. He loved this movie and has the DVD.  I could name ten more movies off the top of my head that make me think of Chris too. When this movie ends The Blind Side is coming on.  Must be that the TV programming staff is missing football as it’s off season right now. 
Seems every direction I turn my head there's another reminder of my son.  I went out to eat this afternoon and got nachos.  Yep, Chris loved them so I ordered them with pulled pork and toasted him. They were good! :-)  I ate them all (just like Chris).  I went outlet shopping today and wandered into the Under Armour store.  Everywhere I looked Chris appeared.  He wore UA gear all the time.  If not on the football field then just for casual days.  There's a bunch of it in his room as I type.  I didn't buy anything but I did pick up a bunch of XL items just to hold them and wish I had the need to make a purchase.  I had no reason to be in the UA store as I had checked with Jeremy in the morning and he didn't need anything there. Why did I subject myself to that store?
I have a choice in how I choose to deal with all of the things that happen in the course of a day when it comes to Christopher.  I can face them head on and barrel through or I can recoil, shut down and pretend I don't see them.  It's really very hard sometimes but I try my best to stand up and deal.  It's exhausting but the best thing for me to do.  If I don't push myself I’ll never do anything!

I was out a few days ago and found myself (coincidentally) in the midst of a conversation with three other moms of high school seniors.  The chatter was about college, where each was going, what acceptance letters have shown up and talk of all the time and effort that has gone into getting to this decision making time with the kids.  My heart was shredded as I stood there.  I could have excused myself, I wanted to run away, but truth be told it was probably better for me to do what I did.  Stand up straight, listen and hang tough.  These same conversations are happening all around me and they will continue to.  Why wouldn't they?  My son was a senior.  He was in the thick of this the same as the other seniors.  It's what they've been eating, sleeping and breathing for the past year.
I've been finding out on a pretty regular basis what colleges Chris's friends have been choosing.  We know our choice would have been SUNY Cortland.  Well, at least that was the last conversation we had with Chris so that's the one I will always go with.  I wish I spent today at the outlets loading up on new fall clothes or dorm accessories but that's not my reality now.  Now I watch from the sidelines and encourage the rest of the seniors as they choose their path.  I also dote on Jeremy as much as he'll allow without smothering him, which is hard!  I have to be careful to let him live and keep my irrational worries at bay.
Did you hear about the Mazzone Hospitality fundraiser coming up in July? I'll attach the link here if you're interested in reading about it.  

I find it ironic that I would now LIKE to own that motorcycle.  It's something I have secretly objected to for either of my sons. Now?  Yes, I'd love that SHEN/Shaker colored bike!  It symbolizes a fear I need to release.  A motorcycle is not a death wish.  It's all in the way I've been viewing it.  I see things differently now.  I highly doubt Jeremy or Chris would kill themselves on it as Mike and I used to tell them when they'd tease they were getting one.  Both boys are smart and responsible, our objections are unfounded and fear based. They need to be reviewed and reconsidered.  I do feel a car is safer but I guess I shouldn't make a blanket statement about motorcycles just because of my opinion.

I think it's important, and healing for me to face what seem to be tough but simple, everyday experiences rather than shy away from them.  They will never stop so acknowledging them is better than denying they're happening.  I need to eat so I've opted to embrace Chris's favorite foods.  Believe me, pulled pork was not what I would ordinarily order but it makes me feel good so I do it.  I pretend I'm savoring it just as Chris would have.  
I can't continue to pass Guptill's on Rt. 9 in Latham and sob.  I need to go there and have ice cream with Bailey now that they've reopened for the season.  If I go there I pray I will eventually get over the ache and sadness that he can't take her there anymore.  They loved it there, me too.  I'm going to go soon even if I cry my way through my first dish.  I want to enjoy my visits there again.

I certainly haven't mastered the skill of embracing the pain but I have come to see that if I have a little pep talk with myself when I’m in the moment I manage better.  I try to use the "bring it on!" tactic to help me cope.  It seems to be working for the most part.  I do have trouble and it doesn't always pan out but for the most part I do pretty well.

I hope when you find yourself in a crummy situation you're able to take a quick moment to size things up and work through it.  It makes a big difference in how the rest of your day plays out and how you handle the next obstacle.  It's not a bad habit to get into for helping yourself along.  I subscribe to it! :-). Maybe it'll work for you.

Thank you for reading.


  1. You are truly an amazing Mom and an inspiration to so many! My heart breaks for you, and I pray that as each day passes your pain will somehow, some way lessen. Thank you for your blog. I love to read and learn more about what an incredible person Chris was. May he R.I.P. xoxo

  2. Regina,
    I am watching the Blindside now. What a great inspirational movie. It shows rising over adversity. Reminds me of your blogs. Inspirational, strength, and courage. I read a post on Facebook that the high school chorus is dedicating their concert to Chris and Deanna. My daughter is in chorus and the last concert brought me to years. They are so beautiful and a pleasure to listen to. I hope that your days get better I know it is hard. One day at a time. I looked at an apartment today and think it will be the one. The kids don't want to move but we have no choice. We will be downsizing considerably but I told them that it doesn't matter where you live but who you live with that makes a home. I want to thank you for making me think about what is important to me and making better choices in my life. God bless

  3. My eyes are flowing over with tears right now. You truly are an inspiration Regina. God bless you and continue to comfort and strengthen you.

  4. Regina,

    You are simply amazing. There is no other way to describe it. Your determination to live life to the fullest the way Chris did and enjoy the things he did and your choice to try and be happy again just truly gives me a huge respect for you. What you accomplish on a daily basis and the "extra" stuff you have to do when a "new" old situation presents itself, like your plan for Guptils, or the under armor store, just to name a few,and you find a way to deal with it, grow and embrace it is very uplifting to me.

    I can tell by your post how heart wrenching this whole thing is. It is heart wrenching for us to know that you are dealing with this, I can only imagine what you are going though. I cry when I feel your pain, I rejoice when I read good news, found pictures, college essays, and found tressures...and I laugh out loud when you recall a beautiful, funny memory.

    Don't worry about smothering Jeremy, he understands that you need to hold on a little tighter now, in time you will let him go again. Keep doing what you are. As far as I can see it is working for you, but please promise not to be too strong! Allow yourself time, time to heal, deal and mend. Let others be you strength when you need it.

    Hang in there Regina, you are headed in the right direction.

    God Bless, XO

  5. If you ever need someone to enjoy Chris' favorite foods with, I'm sure a bunch of us would be happy to join you. I, for one, still find myself starving after most of your posts. ;) Tonight I also found myself with a broken heart for you because I *can* but at the same time obviously really *can't* imagine how painful these things, even the days, hours, and minutes must sometimes be for you, But I love that you pick yourself up and find a positive message in all of this. You're really going to be ok. You'll never be the same, whatever that was, but that's ok, too. You'll be a new you, you ARE a new you, and becoming more so every day, and that person is a strong and beautiful person whom I greatly admire.

    Jen Malatino

  6. Just remember's okay to say to yourself...not today...I just need a break from facing the pain head on.

  7. I dont know if you listen to country music at all...I feel you probably are familiar with the song at least since Chris was a football player...I attended the Kenny Chesney concert this past Thursday night in Albany...He sang "The Boys OF Fall". In my heart and mind, that song was dedicated to your son, your family and the Shen community. I live in Mayfield but just wanted you to know that you and your son are always thought of somewhere and your son is everywhere! God Bless!

    1. I agree! It's an awesome song! And, I'm sure Bailey would totally appreciate it. She has tweeted that she's listening to country music more to get acclimated to TN ;)

  8. Regina,
    Yesterday I saw a post and thought of you. It seems to resonate with me again this morning as I read your reflections from your day:

    Grieving loss consciously is at the center of the spiritual path. In small and great ways, each of our losses links us to what we love. It is natural that we will seek to manage the pain of separation in whatever way we can. Yet as we awaken, we can allow our sorrow to remain faithful to itself. We can willingly surrender into the grieving. By honoring what has passed away, we are free to love the life that is here. ~ True Refuge ~

    God Bless you today,

  9. Dear Mrs. Stewart , I was so thankful to wake up today to see that you had left a blog. The past couple of days have been very rough, a personal problem but it has absolutely broke my heart. I'm crying as I write this to you. I'm trying to stay strong for my kids but I'm lost. Sometimes the obstacles were thrown in life are just so unfair. I pray for you, mike and Jeremy every day. I love to read what you have to say, as it brings joy to me. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us even thou we have never met...God Bless xxxxxx

  10. Mrs Stewart,
    How I understand the "Painful Simple Things." Some days, it seems like everything I do or see remind me of those I've lost. Yesterday was one of those days. Once again, your blogs are so timely and needed. I'm so proud that you are able to push through these little things so well. As much as we need to push through these things, please remember not to push them aside in your efforts to make it through. Part of the reason you notice these things is because chris is with you and wants to send you loving signs that he's here. He wouldn't have you go through the pain of seeing these things without good reason.

    "So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life's a beautiful thing and there's so much to smile about.” -Marilyn Monroe

    Lots of love,

    1. Hannah,

      Your line about "As much as we need to push through these things, please remember not to push them aside in your efforts to make it through”, is just so meaningful and helpful. Not just to Mrs. Stewart but to all of us. So often we spend so much time trying to get through things we do just push them aside, only to have these things in our way at another time.

      Thank you for reminding ME when I have an issue to not skirt it but take care of it.

      You truly are a blessing!!
      Stay Classy, like you are!!!
      XO, Annie

  11. Mrs Stewart,

    I have been reading your blog since you started it and this is the first time I have responded. As a mother of three adult boys my heart breaks for you. I can't imagine losing one of my children. I want you to know what an inspiration you are to me. You see, I have Stage IV colon cancer and have been fighting this for four years. My children and grandchildren mean the world to me and the thought that I won't be around to see them grow up and become the fine adults I know they will be is hard to deal with. I have found since I was diagnosed that I am afraid to make plans too far in the future in case I am not here to participate but since I started to read your blog I've realized how wrong I have been. I need to continue on and not worry about what tomorrow will bring as there are no guarantees. Chris sounds like an amazing son and from your blogs he reminds me of my children and it brings back so many happy memories. I want to thank you for what you are doing. I realize this has got to be the hardest thing you have ever gone through and I wish I could turn back the hands of time and make that day different for you. Please know Chris and your family are always in my prayers and when the day comes that God calls me home I promise to look for Chris and tell him what a very special wonderful mother he has.

    May God bless you and your family,
    Roberta Clark

  12. Hi Regina. I read your blog this morning, but I was in Massachusetts all day and am now getting a chance to write. I thought of you often today as I took 5 hours to myself. I decided instead of all the things I could do, I was going to be alone while Ally was at band. It was refreshing and gave me a chance to just be alone and regroup. It helped that I went to my favorite beach and just walked in the sand; listened to the waves; felt the crisp air on my face... and sat on the rocks of the jetty to be alone in my head.

    Reading your words -- "I can face them head on and barrel through or I can recoil, shut down and pretend I don't see them. It's really very hard sometimes but I try my best to stand up and deal. It's exhausting but the best thing for me to do. If I don't push myself I’ll never do anything!" I have to say I do not believe I'm the only one that wonders how you make it through the days. I know when you pop into my thoughts, I often sit and wonder how you are doing. We used to daily read a blog from you, and now every few days we do, and I know for those instances how you feel, but today's blog really answered a lot of my "wonderings". (I know that's not a word, but it is for the purposes of my response)...

    As I read your blog this morning and again this evening, I imagined trying the nachos with pork (I couldn't have done it) and I 'walked' through the Under Armour Store with you and imagined the strength it took to walk in there. I hope there was a sense of comfort you got from moving through the familiar. You bluntly stating you have a choice on how you choose to deal with your new normal, and it was like a splash of ice water to my face. The clarity that comes through in your writing about how you are dealing with all of your emotions and all of the new coming at you, makes me want to reach out and find a way to send you emotional hugs like a huge band aid for your heart.

    I'm having a hard time finding the right words to respond as my heart and head are numb. When you don't write, please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. I saw this quote the other day and it made me think of you (as Joel Osteen's quotes so often do) "If you’ll just keep moving forward, being the best that you can be, God will give you favor and cause people to want to be good to you."

    I know typing the words "moving forward" or posting quotes with that theme have been read by some in a negative way in the past, but I do believe you taking one step at a time and going about it with the attitude written in today's blog, is serving you well as you stated above. You have a strength, at least some of the time, that I can only hope I have at certain points in my life.

    Every time you "stand up straight, listen and hang tough" and then have the clarity to write about it you are passing on some serious wisdom and new ways for us to look at things. Who is helping who here?

    I had many opportunities today (seeing the #69) to say hi or think of you and Chris and I hope some of that energy got back to you. That's my one and only hope.

    God bless...

  13. Hi Regina,

    I know many people have assumed since you are not blogging daily that you have moved forward and are healing. I did have a feeling that you just weren't able to keep it up and it was a bit draining .. Not that you're in a better place. The pain you write about today is just so heartbreaking and I wish that no one has to deal with that.
    I have no advice .. Just a sympathetic ear and virtual support..

    I did want to mention to you that you have helped me with getting back into Sunday services.. Like you I am Catholic and even went to catholic school. My only uncle is a priest. I'm spiritual but was not attending a church in a regular basis. I decided today to go with a friend to Grace Chapel and was deeply moved by it. I may continue on a regular basis now. It was a big step to step out of my comfort zone and attend a non- denomination church .. But I'm glad I did. I do owe you a big thanks.. You had said.. Better to worship somewhere than not at all.. I couldn't agree more!

  14. Regina,

    I think that if what you're doing for you works then that's what you have to do to help you on your path to healing! I can't even begin to imagine how hard it was for you to stand and take in the conversation with the other moms about college. I love your attitude that as tough as it was, you chose to stand tall and hang it there. You truly amaze me.

    I keep going back to your pulled pork lunch. Kudos to you on that one. The foods my boys eat, I don't know if I would be brave enough to ever try some of them! I keep smiling as a I picture you munching down on it!

    Although we don't meet up daily any more, I think of you and Chris often throughout my day. Today's blog you let us see how little things we don't even think about can change your day and I truly am sorry you have to bear this burden. I hope your path gets a bit easier each day.

    Thank you for sharing.
    hugs and peace

  15. Hi Regina,

    I'm a little late in responding. Just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you today.