Marc Lynch often writes beautifully. Never more so than here.

Today is my daughter’s third birthday. She woke up early, singing “happy birthday” to herself, and when I made it into her room she was already out of bed, jumping up and down, with Mom and brother watching enraptured. When she opened her first present, a ballet tutu, I thought she would literally vibrate into a million pieces of pure joy. Me too.

Today I went to the funeral of Aidan Crane, son of my friend Sam Crane. Aidan died on March 19, fourteen and a half years old.

Sam loved his son. For fourteen and a half years, he and his wife and daughter nurtured Aidan’s body and spirit. They loved him and cared for him in ways which I can only dimly comprehend. A daily routine of the most basic physical care developed into true communication, a true communion, a love whose depth I can fathom, as a parent, but whose meaning I may never truly appreciate. To say that Sam handled his son’s disability with grace would be profoundly unfair: he accepted Aidan for who he was, and allowed Aidan to change his life in ways which make him the person he is today.

What I learned from Sam and from Aidan is to fully appreciate every moment with my children, the physical experiences, the nuance, the meaning of a slightly cocked head or the love found in a fleeting expression. When I hold my daughter tonight for her birthday, I know that I’ll cry thinking of Aidan and Sam. Sam never had such moments with Aidan. But he had something else.

Today I mourn Aidan’s death and revel in my daughter’s life. Both honor Aidan’s spirit.

As should we all.

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