ARLINGTON — When Todd Smith walked into a room, he filled it with energy.
Hundreds of people gathered earlier this month at Smokey Point Community Church to remember that energy and the countless smiles it inspired for the 18 years Smith lived.
Todd Charles Smith died June 5. He’d been attending an overnight graduation party, took an early morning run and was shot when he tried to enter a house he confused with the place where he had been staying. The young man was to graduate from Arlington High School five days later. Instead, his sister, Ali Smith, walked in his graduation commencement ceremony in his honor on June 10.
Family, friends and classmates shared fond memories at his memorial service.
“I’m convinced we were made to be full of life and spirit. Some people never get to experience that. Other people get that from the beginning. That was Todd,” said David Lukov, who officiated the ceremony. “We remember the young man who had a huge heart, a wonderful spirit and a willingness to reach out to people. No one in his world was a stranger.”
One theme resounded through every story told: He showed up for people when nobody else did.
A friend of Smith said she was sitting alone in the bleachers at a school wrestling tournament when Smith came to sit next to her. She felt out of place, she said, so Smith’s willingness to leave his other friends and sit with her, even if it wasn’t “cool,” meant a lot.
Another friend said there was a time in his life when he spent a lot of time in the hospital. Smith, who was his most frequent visitor, spent hours keeping him company. One day, Smith stayed in his room from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. the next day, the friend said.
“From that day on, I felt different, because Todd was there with me. He showed me what life was really about.” the friend said. “It’s really hard right now to laugh and cry, but when he stayed that day with me, I laughed all day and I felt a hell of a lot better.”
Smith was passionate about fitness — he was a member of his school’s wrestling team and had recently begun practicing mixed martial arts. He also loved to cook and share desserts.
When Smith and his sister were younger, they picked on each other a lot, the older sister told the gathering. She said she used to tease her brother, telling him the five years she was alive before he was born were the best of her life.
But their bond was more than jokes. Ali Smith showed baby photos of her brother and talked to anyone who would listen about how much she adored her “little buddy.”
“I could sit here and I could tell stories all day long about how sweet, caring and wonderful my brother was, but I don’t need to,” the sister said at the service. “I loved being his sister, especially his older sister. Truth be told, the 18 years that I spent with my brother will always be my favorite part of my life.”
Ali Smith said the stories people have shared about her younger brother have helped her and her family cope.
“Seeing tangibly just how many people had love for Todd is encouraging, because it means he did make an impact, even if it was in a small community,” she said in an interview.
She said she and her brother were always very different: She was the shy, reserved one, and he was the class clown. Growing up, she said, she learned a lot from the way her brother approached life.
“A lesson I learned from Todd is there are friends in strange places. All you have to do is look around and see the good in people.”
Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @reporterellen
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