Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Struggle and Peace

As we approach the 6 month anniversary of Todd's passing I have reflected daily on how Todd lived in this world and how I will continue to honor that life. There are always thoughts of Todd swirling around in my mind, hourly making themselves known. Any situation can trigger a memory; doing the taxes this year only reminds me that it will be the first time tackling it on my own. Passing over FOX through the TV guide and knowing that Todd will never be here to quote Bill O'Reilly "the factor is on---TONIGHT". Is it normal to incorporate memories of Todd into otherwise mundane daily tasks? I'm sure that it is, but even so it drains you a little of the energy you have left. When I seem overwhelmed at any point I feel thankful for my faith in Jesus Christ, for which I may never have had without Todd.

Its times like this, sitting in front of the computer, that I question how much I really want to share. But through it all I have learned that if I don't talk about the hard things they certainly won't get easier by not doing so. Todd was a reserved man in many ways and he was always cautious about what he shared with others. And as I try to live by his example I question myself to a certain degree. But for the last several months I have felt pulled in different directions about something that has been on my mind. And because I know that I am ready, PROUD of my husband, and open about some of the more intimate details- I think it is time to really tell you why I'm in such a peaceful place.

Before Todd was killed I would be comfortable saying that my faith in Jesus was lukewarm at best. I tried but nothing was fitting for me. I knew how much it meant to Todd to raise Kiley as a Christian and I was doing what I could to be a supportive wife. My understanding of Christianity was certainly lacking that is for sure. But the moment, the absolute moment that I was told that Todd had been killed there was an unquestionable knowledge that Todd was in Heaven. Little things kept happening for the next week or so, Todd letting me know that I was on the right path and that he was okay.

Most noticeably for me was the experience I had before the memorial service. I had gone out shopping for a dress for the service and picked up a few accessories at a popular store at the mall. When I got back to Todd's parents house I joined the rest of the family for a meeting regarding some details of the upcoming service. My shopping bags were piled on the coffee table and as I was listening to something Donn was saying I happened to look down and see the underside of one of the bags. On it was printed a bible verse. I thought it was strange that it would be printed on the underside of the bag and noted that I should look it up when I had a moment. Later the next day I was on the phone with Kirby and I told her about some of the things that had happened that made me think Todd was trying to tell me he was alright. Which reminded me about the bible verse and we looked it up together. John 3:16 says "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life". A gentle guidance in the direction I so badly needed to go.

I've said before that I have a lot of peace, which is probably hard to understand. My sadness is for myself and Kiley and how we won't get to see Todd again, but my joy is that Todd is in his eternal resting place in Heaven. Todd also gave me an amazing gift, he left Kiley and I each a letter that he wrote on his computer shortly after arriving at FOB Howz E Madad in early June. Deciding to share them is where I have felt pulled in different directions. I have wanted to shout them from the rooftops because of how proud I am of having such a wise and comforting husband. My struggle has been with whether they would be received by others with the same kind of gladness I have felt knowing that I have this wonderful gift. They are difficult to read. But hearing his voice again, even if its only in my head, means I can be strengthened with these words. That being said read on to understand.

Dear Emma:


Well if you are reading this, I guess I did not make it home and therefore, I was not able to remind you again of how much I love you. I love you so much baby and I will always love you. Although I may not be here right now, take comfort in the fact that I am watching over you right now. I am not gone and I will always be with you in spirit. I know this time must be hard for you but I also know how strong you are. Never forget that God knew what was best for us before we were even born. Take comfort in that. This happened for a reason. Although you may not believe it now, you will one day.


I want you to know just how important you are to me. I could not ask for a more caring, beautiful and loving wife. The memories that we have shared over the last few years have been the best of my life. Although it may seem like my life was cut short, I lived a life that most can only dream of. I married the perfect woman. I have a beautiful daughter that amazed me every day. I even had two great dogs - at least most of the time. I couldn't ask for anything more.


If you feel sad, just think back to the memories that we shared. Look at our daughter and how beautiful she is. Be strong for her. Remind her about her Daddy and tell her that I loved her more than anything else in the world. Her birth was the best day of my life and she was the best thing that ever happened to me. Her smile and laughter represent all that is good and beautiful in this world. Tell her that Daddy is in heaven now and will watch over her and protect her every minute of every day.


I love you Emma. But never be afraid to do what you need to do to be happy. It is so important that you continue to find happiness in your life. Although you may think this is impossible right now, have faith. Much better times are coming. You and Kiley have a wonderful life ahead of you and I am so happy to have shared some of it with you. I love you.


Your loving Husband,

Todd



Dear Kiley, My Sweetie:


Although you may not remember me, I want you to know how very much your Daddy loves you. I left for Afghanistan when you were 9 months old. Leaving you was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. You are so very special to me sweetie - you are truly a gift from God. The best day of my life was the day you were born. Every time I saw you smile my heart would just melt. You were my sweetie - my life was not complete until you were born.


I am so sorry I will not be able to see you grow up. But remember, your Daddy is not gone. I am in heaven now smiling down on you every day. You are so very lucky to have such a wonderful Mom to take care of you. Make sure you are good for her and help her out whenever you can. Always remember to say your prayers at night and be thankful for all your many blessings. Never forget how important and special you are to so many people. We love you so very much. When you get older and start school, do your best and try to learn as much as you can about the world you live in. Always be nice and caring to others and you will discover that the world will be nice to you. But when things aren't going your way, never forget that God knows what is best for you and everything will work out in the end.


You have such a bright and beautiful future ahead of you. Have fun. Enjoy it. And remember, your Daddy will always be proud of you and will always love you. You are and will always be my sweetie.


With very much love,


Your Daddy


My mom said a long time ago something that really stuck with me. That is that a person doesn't get to leave this world until they have completed everything they had to do on Earth. Todd lived that full life. Even though he was a young man he was cultured, an academic, a happily married man and father, and even though he wasn't here to raise Kiley he left me the tools to do so with our combined values. Like my mom said "When the job is done sometimes you get to go home early".


I found a great website where I uploaded a photo of Todd reading to Kiley when she was about a week old and I had the letter to her superimposed on it and framed. I did the same to a wedding photo for the letter sent to me. They are both hanging prominently in my house so I can see them everyday. Although they are private letters I have thought long and hard about how significant they are and the importance of sharing the depth of wisdom Todd had for being 26 years old at the time of his death.

Thank you Todd for having the courage to write the hardest thing you've ever had to write, knowing full well that the fact that I would even have to read it is the reality of being a soldier. You were the strongest man I ever knew. Your strength will always give me strength.

36 comments:

  1. Thanks u so much for sharing these private letters Emma. Somehow this gives more closure to everything that has happened, Ron and I both are so proud of you and how you are doing with all of this. Love Kileys hair btw, its getting long and so beautiful!

    Thinking of you both,
    Ashley Smith

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  2. Wow Emma, I am in tears reading this letter! I pray for you and think of you often, mostly because we share so much in common. Our daughters are the same age and Its hard for me to imagine what you're going through. This blog gives me great inspiration and an unbelievable respect for you as a woman. You are amazing and Kylie is so lucky to have you as an example! Peace and blessings to you and your family!

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  3. Dear sweet Emma,
    What a rare and precious gift. While the reality of receiving these means that Todd is no longer of this earth, the letters themselves were just one final blessing that he left you. You are incredibly special, not only to him, but to so many others with which you share. You are absolutely inspirational to me and I awe in your atttitude, strength, peace, and generosity in sharing these. Knowing just this much about you, I am so happy to know someone loved you and respected you for you, exactly the way that you are! :) I am excited for you in your discovery of the Lord, His plan, His timing, and most of all, His love for you, your brave husband, and gorgeous daughter. May He continue to be your everything. <3 I am honored to know you!

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  4. Kristina3/09/2011

    Emma,
    Thank you so much for your wisdom, courage, and love, and for sharing how amazing Todd was and is in our lives. We love you and Kiley very, very much!

    Kristina

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  5. Richard Harris3/09/2011

    Reaffirmation of the love and strength the relationship you and Todd share with God and each other. Thank you.

    Richard

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  6. Thanks for sharing these Emma. They warmed my heart today.
    Jon

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  7. Anonymous3/09/2011

    What a beatiful message - thank you for sharing it.

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  8. Emma and Kiley,

    Thanks for sharing these moments in your life. Todd will be there for you and Kiley forever until you meet again. Continue to live in his memory and be strong as he would. My prayers are with you and Kiley. We love you guys very much.

    Brian M. Randall
    William and Mary ROTC Program

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  9. Emma and Kiley,

    Thank you very much for sharing these letters with us. Ashley and I care about you guys very much. We know that you will be fine as long as you do what Todd has requested of you. We look forward to seeing you in August!

    Ronnie

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  10. Grant Your chosen ones eyes to see with the flint of an eagle's eye, and give them that same calm in the midst of a storm. Help them to soar above the turmoil in their lives. When Your timing is right, help them to focus all their strength on whatever challenges are in their path by adjusting their flight to overcome. We pray that even though you often feel lonely and vulnerable, and even though you suffer much for the cause of Christ, your devotion and passion will see you through. You will grow stronger as you forge ahead -- through the pain and sorrow, knowing that God's grace will be sufficient for your every need & Todd's spirit is with you 24/7.
    You are an amazing woman Emma & a wonderful mother to Kiley. Todd is smiling down on you.
    Thank you for sharing Todd's love with us.
    Much Love & Laughter always,
    The Clines

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  11. Emma,

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. You are an incredibly strong and brave person. I know Todd is looking down on you and Kiley right now with tremendous pride.

    Matt

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  12. Anonymous3/09/2011

    Emma,

    Wow! I am so glad to know you and call you friend. Your strength, courage and love inspire me. God Bless you and Kiley.

    Love,
    Lara

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  13. Anonymous3/09/2011

    Em, I'm going through a rough time right now, and you, by deciding to share Todd's words today, have most suddenly and unexpectedly, taken a weight off my shoulders. I am breathing again and feeling a sense of peace that I have not felt for many days. It was Todd's words to Kiley: "God knows what is best for you, and everything will work out in the end". Such a simple thought, but, in his wisdom and yours, has shared it through you to inspire not only Kiley but others. This beautiful tribute to Todd was timed perfectly. Thank you so much for passing it along when you did.

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  14. Anonymous3/10/2011

    Dearest Emma, I have never met you but I am praising the Lord for your great Faith. Your letter mean so much to me seeing that my Son Jonathan Fuller is serving this very moment in Afghanistan.As I read your blog tears of joy came to me. You are a very strong woman of God and I just wanted to let you know how blessed I am because of reading you letter. Thank you so much for sharing . As you walk lifes journey just remember He is always walking along side you. To God be the Glory, great things He has done through you and In you. Be blessed!

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  15. Anonymous3/10/2011

    My name is Jenna, (im kirbys cousin) i have followed your story since the day you started going through this and you truly are inspiring... i could only hope that i could be as strong as you are one day. No one should ever have to experience the pain you have, but to be able to look at life with so much optipmism and positivity and strength just blows my mind. You are truly one of a kind and I pray for you and your family!

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  16. Jill Jacobs Savage3/22/2011

    Emma, I'm sure it must've been very difficult to come to the decision to share such intimate things, but I'm so glad you did. One thing is for certain, Todd will live again someday. The Scriptures (NASB) say in John 5:24-25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgement, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.". AMEN!

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  17. Anonymous4/27/2011

    Dear Emma,

    We never got to meet, but I've heard lots about you. I was Kelly's neighbor. I just wanted to let you know that you have been in my thoughts and prayers this week. What a blessing to have those final thoughts and a faith that can handle the stuff we can't! I pray God continues to bless and heal you.

    Karen O.

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  18. This was beautiful. So thankful he is in Heaven!

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  19. Gina Cominiello...Castle Rock, CO5/23/2011

    Emma,
    I so commend you, your courage, your strength and above all-your faith as a Christian. I am a "toddler" Christian-so excited about my walk with Jesus and all the love there is to be had by being a Christian. I hope knowing that your husband has touched so many lives, in so many places and enriched all of us brings you not only comfort but peace. To share such a private part of your life shows what a beautifully strong Christian woman you are. At your young age, you have brought such inspiration to me at the age of 52....who once thought I knew it all...until I gave my life to Christ. Emma and Kiley, may your lives be full of the best our Lord has for you. God Bless You

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  20. Anonymous5/31/2011

    Don't know if you noticed, but CHuck Norris actually wrote a column discussing Todd and Emma Weaver and their sacrifices. http://townhall.com/columnists/chucknorris/2011/05/31/saluting_our_stellar_examples/page/full/ Please send word along to Emma if you have contact info for her.

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  21. We are truly touched by the letters Tod wrote you and your daughter. Bless you both. I cried reading this, but it was a good cry. Stay strong.

    Much love from the nerds at ViralViralVideos.com

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  22. Anonymous5/31/2011

    R.I.P. Todd. You died in honor for a country you love.

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  23. Anonymous5/31/2011

    I read it. I cried. Forever rest in peace Todd.

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  24. Anonymous5/31/2011

    What an amazing man, thank you for sharing his story. As an American I want to say thank you for your service to this country. Thank you for sacrificing so the rest of us can be free. Thank you even though I never met you.

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  25. Beautiful. I'm a wreck now. May the love of Christ and the peace of God be with you now and forever.

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  26. Anonymous5/31/2011

    the letters brought tears to my eyes. RIP Todd. Stay strong Emma

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  27. Human compassion is amazing. I'm crying for people I don't know. So beautiful.

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  28. Anonymous5/31/2011

    Your words really made me cry, and at the same time impact me in a very special way, We are with you and we are also proud of your husband a really example of a good husband, father and soldier.

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  29. Wonderful to see that your faith is getting you through. After my Mom died, I felt there was no reason in living. But I kept my faith because we are BELIEVERS and that has gotten me through. With love an blessings to you and your little one.

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  30. Anonymous6/01/2011

    From a fellow soldier:
    I just want to thank you for your family's sacrifice. The letters were heart breaking, but at least we know he's in a better place. Stay strong.

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  31. Anonymous6/01/2011

    Very powerful. I wish you and your daughter the best. You are not alone.

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  32. Anonymous6/02/2011

    all three of you are angels.

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  33. Anonymous6/02/2011

    Deep, amazing, powerful. A hug from Italy.

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  34. Anonymous6/02/2011

    i hope you and your daughter live the most fulfilling lives. bless your family.

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  35. Anonymous6/02/2011

    My deepest sympathies for your loss. I can only imagine what you're going through. Your strength through these times is immense and tells us so much about you. Thank you so much for sharing and our thoughts and hearts are with you and your daughter.

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  36. You, your daughter, and your late husband are all extraordinary human beings. I am extremely sorry for your loss, but your mother's words about how departing this world early is simply what happens when the 'job is done' is such a wise and powerful message (and one that I firmly believe as well). Although I know that you are well aware of this, Todd is always with you and your baby girl and he will always be there for you both.

    You have learned so much from your loving husband and it is quite clear that he learned and grew quite a lot from you as well, and imparting those qualities and values onto your daughter is one of the best ways of keeping his thought and memory alive.

    You married a great man, he married a great woman, and I really can't stress enough how brave and strong you BOTH truly are.

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