Sunday, September 8, 2013

With Every Breath

What trips us up the most in navigating grief is the "Why?"  That one question burrows itself into your mind and can multiply the pain your heart is already experiencing.  I've asked myself that same question more times than I can count.  The difference for me is that I don't find myself questioning why did Todd have to die.....but more so what his purpose in death means to myself and others.  What am I supposed to be learning, listening for, and taking away from the greatest tragedy I've faced in my life.  

1LT Todd Weaver lived his life with purpose- he was a natural leader, dependable, and courageous.  He completed life on this Earth on September 9th, 2010 with the same amount of purpose that he carried those twenty six years.  In his own words Todd says "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".  And he was right for I do believe it now.  While it is not a destiny that I would have wished for him I understand that great sacrifices like his are strong enough to forever change those who hear his story.

Maybe it's not 100% accurate, maybe it is.....but this is the story that I know.  The one that gives me the peace in my heart that lets me sleep again.  It was the early dawn hours of Sept 9th in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Todd's field artillery unit was targeting a small building that was suspected of terrorist activity.  The platoon was positioning themselves for the ready when Todd triggered a buried IED by a low mud wall.  He watched what followed from above after that moment.  Mission abort, an ambush, a battle ensues.  Todd's fellow soldiers never leave his side and bravely bring him back to the combat outpost while risking their lives and sustaining injuries along the way.  An investigation is standard procedure after a combat death and that is when it was discovered that the building they were targeting that morning was packed with enough explosives to kill half the platoon had they hit it.  

Hearing that story I no longer questioned "Why Todd?"  I accepted that God knew what he was doing in choosing him to make that sacrifice.  I think more than anything else my hopes are that the men with Todd that morning see how God was implementing his plan for their lives as well.  For whatever reason He needed Todd to put it all in motion.  I've been confronted more than once by some of Todd's battle buddies from his time in Iraq and Afghanistan where they say "I wish it could have been me, Emma" or "I'd switch places with him if I could".  I try to understand survivor guilt as best I can but I find it difficult to put myself in their shoes.  I want to embrace them, look straight into their eyes and have them feel the electric jolt of understanding that I've felt.  I wish I could say "You didn't die that day for a reason.  You haven't lived the life the Lord has planned for you.  You haven't earned the right to go home yet.  He still needs you."  I can only hope each life not lost that day is lived with that same Todd Weaver drive.  

Three years have gone by.  It's kind of like living in two different worlds though.  I've celebrated three of Kiley and I's birthdays, found love again, married a wonderful man, moved across the world, and am welcoming a son early next year.  But I can close my eyes and see the shadows at the door.  I can hear my mom screaming in the background of my phone call home that terrible morning.  I can smell the moon dust from his belongings sent home from Afghanistan.  I can feel the pain as freshly as if it were yesterday.  And I can do this every single day.  But instead I look at how much God has given us since then and try to be that much more thankful for my own life and what He has done with it so far. 

It is in these moments that I hope I can continue to actively honor and remember the hero that I love.  Until we meet again in Heaven I hope we all stop asking "Why?"....and start asking "How am I going to make the most of the gift of life I have so graciously been given?"