A Celebration of Life
September 25, 2010 -- Kristina N. Weaver
"He belonged among those who were determined to give back."
We had the perfect childhood with Todd. It was brimful of forest forts and summers at the ocean, of racing crabs and hunting for snake skins, of dogs and hamsters and parrots and rabbits. Even a goose named Jessie and a monkey in the back yard. We got rid of the monkey after it bit Todd on the knee and, as Emma recently reminded me, in another less mentionable region as well.
There were New Years’s Eves spent making silly hats, zip lines strung between coconut palms, and hours of playing catch in the back yard. There were cross-country car trips when we were home in the states from our overseas lives. One summer Todd begged us to visit a wolf sanctuary, and we took a detour all the way to Canada. I hear from Emma that, later in life, his friends teased him for having been a wolf kid, even as they called him Silver Fox. Curse of the Weaver gray hair gene.
Todd and I were each other’s closest friends during the years we lived in Africa. We were witnesses, together, of the suffering and poverty that exists in so much of the world. And it changed both of us. We spent the first wave of culture shock crying together in our mother’s arms. We didn’t understand the fact that there were kids our age right outside the gates of our home who had to roll guinea worms out of their legs and go hungry a lot of the time. But we got through our shock together, and I remember how quickly Todd transferred all that energy into thinking of how we could make some kind of a difference. It was his idea to get our red wagon and load it with cans of commissary food we raided from the pantry, and pile it high with toys and wheel it gingerly out beyond the gate of our home as an offering to all the kids in our neighborhood. But the story gets better. Todd became friends with those kids. He didn’t care that he was living in the context of an American ex-patriot culture where most parents shielded their children from the locals. Todd spent long afternoons playing in the neighborhood and going over to the homes of his friends. So we weren’t surprised when we moved back to the States and Todd quickly became the most popular kid. And I wasn’t surprised when, shortly after his basic training, he told me how much he loved the diversity of the Army. He was meeting people from all fifty states and six territories from all over the world and all kinds of backgrounds. Todd always seemed happiest in the company of people who had seen enough of this world to know just how good they had it. He belonged among those who were determined to give back.
Emma has told me that Todd always recalled a particularly embarrassing memory of his childhood. Embarrassing to me, of course—Thanks, Todd. It was the time I got us both lost on the beach in Florida. After we had walked for what seemed like hours in the wrong direction, I simply sat down in the sand and cried. I was terrified at what I had done, at how badly I had betrayed my responsibility to keep my little brother safe. In the first few days after we heard the news of Todd’s passing, that ancient feeling of hopelessness came back to me along with all the other emotions. Even with all the love and pride and prayer and yes, the quiet fear that I had nurtured since his deployment, I could not protect Todd. We could not protect him. But do you know what Todd did that day in Florida? He must have been just seven years old; and he stood, covering me in his shadow, and touched his small hand to my shoulder. Dry eyed, he comforted me. He told me it would be okay. He looked around us for help, and we were rescued moments later.
A loss like ours in not something you recover from. No one is going to rescue us, carry us home, and make everything okay. But when you can put a name to your loss, and that name is one as loving and beloved as Todd is to us, then there’s the hope of healing, of finding peace. We feel him with us now—his courage, strength, warmth, loyalty, compassion, and crazy sense of humor. My sister, brother, and I—and all of Todd’s family and friends—are resolute in our determination to carry on his light for as long as we live. We welcome you to join us in accepting this duty and this honor.