Longtime readers of the Independent watched Theodore Kang Eastburn grow up.
He was Teddy to us, and through the writings of his mother, Kathryn Eastburn, in her "Domestic Bliss" column, we read as he grew from a shy child, to a teenager, to a strong young man.
We knew him as a big brother to the twins, as kid brother to Katie, as the son from Pusan, Korea, who, as an infant, was brought home to Colorado Springs, then Nashville, then Colorado Springs again in 1991. We followed his life through Steele Elementary School, North Junior High, and celebrated his graduation from CIVA Charter High School in 2003.
Through the skateboards and the bikes and the love of surfing and paintball and trips to Galveston, Texas, to go fishing with his cousin, another Teddy, we watched him grow.
He was always, as his mother once described him, a nester, the kind of kid who bundled himself in tents and blankets. He loved playing war games, wearing a soldier's hat and brandishing toy guns and swords and issuing battle cries. He was often solemn, and he cared deeply, so very deeply, about his family, his friends.
Around about junior high, Teddy started wearing suits to school. Every day. He was a committed and stylish suit-wearer, with his tie perfectly in place. He was serious and he wanted to be taken seriously, he said. It seemed more radical than if he had spiked his hair and dyed it green.
In 2001, we watched as Ted by then it was decidedly Ted joined the United States Army as a chemical specialist assigned to the 900th Chemical Recon Detachment.
Three years later, he was deployed to Iraq, into war. When he returned, in June 2005, he received the Combat Action Badge. He transferred to the 324th Psychological Operations Company in September 2005, and served with distinction. Since 2003 before going to Iraq and then upon his return he worked as an Emergency Medical Technician at Memorial and Penrose hospitals.
This week, we said goodbye to Ted, who died unexpectedly on July 29, at his Colorado Springs home. He is survived by his parents, Dr. Ted Eastburn and Kathryn Eastburn, his sister Katie, his brothers Philip and Aaron, his grandmother Bettye Carpenter of Galveston, and his many aunts, uncles, cousins, colleagues and friends.
Everyone who was close to Ted has been sharing stories about him this week, celebrating his life and mourning his death. I wasn't even remotely in his tight circle, but I'll never forget him, never forget the years watching him grow up.
On the eve of his birthday last year, we spent some time together, talking and laughing, as he was getting ready to head out for a night full of celebration. I watched him with some wonderment, marveling over how this quiet kid, to whom it seemed just yesterday I'd doled out packages of fast-food condiments from my desk drawer, had grown so quickly into such a fascinating, complex, observant, composed and ever-respectful young man.
His time with us was far too brief. We were lucky to have had him in our lives.