To Life

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer
4 min readJan 29, 2021

On January 18th, my son George Chaim turned 18.

Leading up to the day, it was impossible for me not to go back and forth to memories of his birth — the bitter cold January day when I felt his kicking stop and we rushed to the hospital. Doctors saved George’s life as my placenta was dying. The first few hours that he was on the earth, it was his Dad who was with George in the NICU — standing by his incubator, praying and sending him our love — while I recovered from the emergency c-section in a daze.

I’ve had to tell that story time and again — when your child has a developmental delay and you go to a new practitioner, they ask you about the child’s birth. So many times, I told the story in a sterile office to a person I had never met, choking back my tears, while George played on his ipad, bouncing up and down on the chair.

At some point, not so long ago, I gave myself permission to wail. To let all of the tears out. To scream the screams I might have released if I had given birth to George naturally as I planned.

Now, when I remember that day, I can go to what we gained: our son. That he was born. That a unique soul whom we named George Chaim 18 years ago was miraculously delivered to us. That the tremendous love that I felt for him in that moment grows…grows…grows.

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George’s 18th birthday holds special meaning. In the Jewish tradition the number 18 spells out chai — life; fitting for George whose name is Chaim.

18 is a transition year, in many ways. George can stay in school until age 21 because of his multiple disabilities but his future as an adult feels more immediate. My husband and I are dreaming for what we want for him and starting to make plans as we’re able.

Parenting George has helped me to clarify and deepen my own spiritual understanding of the world. I have learned that every human being has the ability to connect through love and spirit — that has nothing to do with intellectual ability.

In coming to envision George’s adult life, we start from there. Our affirmation starts with love, not fear:

George is safe, happy and has all of the supports he needs for a meaningful life.

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Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Writer, Educator, Mom. Disability advocate. Dog Lover. Teaching online workshops on writing + spiritual growth. www.gabriellekaplanmayer.com