I'm heart tender today.

My dear friend Laura lost her son yesterday, a beautiful 12-year-old boy named Christoph. He lived a joyful life, thanks most especially to the love and comfort-giving of his parents.

I remember sitting with Laura on the Mall in Washington DC.  Our mock trial team had won state in the spring of our high school senior year and we were there to compete in nationals. We were planning our fabulous lives, where we would be cosmopolitan women and change the world.  With marriage and children somehow tucked in there, but later.

A few years later we were both married and pregnant, I with my second daughter and she with her first son. She had married her dashing German sweetheart and they were living in the beautiful town of Konstanz, right near a lake nestled up against Switzerland.  She was living that cosmopolitan life: working as an editor in Germany and, as I remember, competing on a water-skiing team (Laura is spunky like that.  For as long as I can remember, Laura has been my ideal of an enthusiastic, optimistic life lover.  I wanted to be just like her.)

Christoph was born with multiple and profound disabilities.  G and I visited them in Konstanz a few years later and I remember we were inspired by their positive and joyful approach to life with Christoph. Dirk had constructed special hanging swings in the living room and rebuilt their minivan to be a traveling crib for him (the first of countless projects he undertook for Christoph's comfort).  They loved taking him on adventures, tickling his back, laying him in the grass on their backyard.  Life continued, it was just different.  They wholeheartedly embraced being Christoph's parents.

They eventually moved to the States, near Laura's family, and had three more children.  Each time I visit I go away filled with inspiration and appreciation for the quality of their lives.  It hasn't been easy + they have had more than their share of challenges. (Sometimes I go away just pleading that they will not. have. any. more. challenges.) But their life seemed distilled to the essence of what really matters: the back tickling, swinging in the back swing, singing, giggling with each other, loving.  He had manymanymany hospitalizations and seizures and surgeries but he was constantly cloaked in a blanket of love and hope.

Today when Laura emailed the news, she said  "We are devastated but we know he is finally free."  I guess I just wanted to give tribute to Laura today for being the kind of mother she is.  I don't think there was a moment in Christoph's life when he didn't feel loved.  That is extraordinary to me.

I still want to be just like Laura.