(Delivered by Robert Cox, Zaadii’s grandfather)
My grandson Zaadii was a wonderful, mischievous, adventurous, and very fine fellow.
He was fearless and courageous.
He was Batman. And we all loved him with all our hearts.
He never took that costume off – except under great pressure – from the day it arrived the week before Halloween, and he was wearing it as he held his mother’s hand walking across the street that awful Sunday.
When we taught him to his first swim lesson, he jumped into the water and sank like a stone. The teacher pulled him up and Zaadii shook his head and went right back again and again.
When it snowed, he went sledding. He wouldn’t let his father hold him, he sled solo, recklessly, down the slopes, and was angry at the sun for setting and ending this day.
That was Zaadii living life to the fullest.
He never knew the dreary, dull disappointments of paying bills, or not getting a promotion, or losing at love.
His life was one constant adventure and exploration bathed in the love of the two finest parents and finest sisters a boy could have.
His Father Francis said it best, he had a perfect life.
He didn’t know pain. The doctors tell us the impact took his consciousness, and he never suffered. It is for those of us who remain to suffer and feel the pain. And because he was loved so much our pain will be immense.
Robert F. Kennedy quoted Aeschylsus when he spoke of losing his best friend and brother:
In our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until in our own dispair,
against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God
My daughter and my beloved son-in-law will survive because of the boundless love of their wonderful family and friends, to whom I am so grateful. When Rachel was getting married, I didn’t want her to go so far away. But over twenty years, I have come to admire and cherish her many friends and to love very deeply her wonderful Navajo family.
She and Francis and Camille and Bahozhoni will make it because of your love.
The spiritual side of the Navajo people reminds me of the Buddhists I met in Tibet and Bhutan. Some of the Buddhists believe that a person’s spirit lingers, for just a while, at the spot where they were taken before it goes on.
When I got here, after traveling through the night and the day and taking Rachel to her house with Bahozhoni, I asked Camille to take me to where this happened. She was very brave and did so.
After 40 years of seeing car wrecks, I knew what happened as soon as I saw the place. There was nothing Rachel could have done differently – she was crossing at a cross walk, holding her childrens’ hands, and because of a driver’s inexcusable neglect and inattention, Rachel and Bahozhoni were struck and Zaadii was taken. It is so unfair.
There are flowers and wreaths at the spot on the tree where the driver’s car struck. But I knew that wasn’t where the impact was. I followed back to the edge of the crosswalk and bent down. This was where he was taken.
I tried to be very still. The snow was falling on my head. I reached out my hands and I want to believe some of Zaadii’s spirit came to me. I closed my arms as tight as I could and Camille and I went home, and I think Zaadii’s spirit is in his mother and father’s hearts now. And if you reach out to Francis or Rachel, I believe Zaadii will be in your heart, too. Because he isn’t gone; he is in our hearts. Fearless, full of wonder.
I can see him jumping to his action stance now. I am Batman.
Who is Batman?
First, he fights for the right, against long odds.
Second, he is resourceful and clever. When it seems he is beaten and there is no hope, he finds a way to escape and continue.
He is a good teacher and mentor to his apprentice and protegee.
But finally and most important, when the chips are down, and all appears lost and he is called, he comes. He does not always win, because life is unfair, but he comes and fights for the right.
My grandson taught me something special: I want to be Batman, too. I want to live these values. So if you honor Zaadii, I want you to say with me – I am Batman.
Now we must do the hardest thing. We must let his spirit go return to the sacred peaks in the ancient Navajo way.
But, Zaadii will do one last amazing thing. He will teach us that the love of a family is more important than anything.
As we bear this terrible loss we are learning to love each other again and to put aside whatever has kept us from each other and to be family again.
That is an amazing thing. Only Batman could do it. But then he is Batman and he is amazing.