Monday, June 27, 2011

The Snowball Effect

This blog is supposed to be my outlet, my safe place.  I don't blog often but when I do it's because my mind is full and I need to release the pressure.  And when I'm not here I'm in the kitchen for some baking therapy.  Something about the precise and methodical measuring of various ingredients- it's quiet, calm, and the outcome never changes.  And like my mind, my freezer is full of frozen cookie dough balls and I can't keep pawning off my baked goods on friends.  So I'm here again ready to face the blog full force and see if I can get through it without it making international news.  I'll explain.

It was May 31st and I was at the gym checking my emails on my phone.  I was on the spin bike when I opened the email from Chuck Norris's Chaplain.  I couldn't believe what I was reading, that Chuck Norris had heard about my husband 1LT Todd Weaver and had written about his sacrifice in his weekly syndicated column in connection with Memorial Day. The Norris's are very active in supporting the military, his brother was killed in Vietnam.

After communicating some more with the Chaplain he told me that the Norris's chose Todd out of the thousands of stories of men and women that they are presented with.  And I never requested any recognition for Todd- the Chaplain explained that they felt called to Todd through all the proactive efforts that we have made in keeping his memory alive. How amazing.  And all the while I'm at the gym with nobody to share this great news with.  Two things came to mind as well.  First being that it was pretty ironic that I was at the gym (now if I was on a total gym that would be crazy!) and second- "How did Chuck Norris know about Todd?" But then it is Chuck Norris.  Duh.

The article grabbed the attention of The Daily Mail UK.  I stumbled upon their article that was written shortly after Mr. Norris's by accident. written by Amy Oliver.  Again I was astonished.  It was pretty much copy and pasting of my blog along with some photos from the Associated Press.  Which is fine by me because I wrote this blog and therefore I like whatever I write.  The title of course was chosen for shock value and I would have appreciated some sensitivity.  But all in all the article was nice and I wasn't upset by it.  What I didn't know was that The Daily Mail is what you could call a tabloid-like website for celebrity stalkers and gossipers.  So it got a lot of attention from these kinds of audiences that feed on controversy.  This is where the problem begins.

If you read the article you'll see that it focuses on the letters that Todd left Kiley and I in case he would not be coming home.  They used the image of the canvas wall hangings that I had made of each letter superimposed over photographs that worked well with each letter.  The image of Todd reading to Kiley was much clearer and easier to read while the one of Todd and I at our wedding was slightly blurry.  Well after the article was written the image of Todd reading Goodnight Moon to Kiley went viral.  I didn't even know it.   As in Australia, Scotland, The Philippians, Indonesia, Korea, etc.

To the best of my knowledge this is what happened:  Somebody saved the image of Todd reading to Kiley and posted it on a forum.  I had never heard of such a thing- there are forums where people can post an image or story and the members of the website vote on whether they like it or not.  I think the person that posted it had good intentions but in doing so they created a lot of stress for me.  I found out about this when I got a facebook message from a friend that they had seen it on **** ( I don't want to name them).  I began getting comments on my blog from strangers that had been referred to it through these forums.  So I spent some time checking out these various forums to see what was going on.  There was my picture -posted for the world to see- and beneath it are thousands of comments from website members.

My little blog had been exposed.  My blog address was out there and people from all over the world were reaching out.  And while most were supportive- I had to start deleting their comments in hopes that it would halt my other friends and family from going to these sites.  But I can't be a mother to the internet

 I think what hurt the most about the amount of negativity that was clouded around these posts was that it was only reaffirming my original fears of sharing what I consider one of the greatest gifts Todd has ever given us.  I felt guilt now.  Judgement.  I began to second guess myself that I shared too much.  All I had ever hoped for was that my close friends and family, those who knew Todd and what an amazing man he was, would know that I'm okay because he had given me peace by writing those letters.  But the world didn't know Todd.  They didn't know how incredible he was.  And while so many people have reached out with thanks to me for sharing such private thoughts, putting their own issues into perspective, the uninformed and negative comments out there have stung me.  Their voices are many and for that I am sad. I wanted to make it go away.   But as all things do they run their course.

My hopes are that those who have been kind to us continue to find happiness in their own lives, knowing that we all have issues and if you're in a tough spot- you'll figure it out.  Life is a challenge.  And it's not my place to try and convince those out there that don't agree with my husband's choice of career or his beliefs.  He isn't here to do so himself but he wouldn't even if he was.  I will always stand firm beside him and know in my heart that what he did was right.  The army was his destiny- his only goal from the time he was 9 years old.   Dr. Suess's "A Book About Me" lets the reader fill in the blanks on several questions about that person.  And it ends with "When I grow up I want to be_____" ; to which Todd filled in "A Ranger and an Army Man".  I had an amazing husband.