“The day you were born is the day the universe decides It could not exist without you.” — Rav Nachman
February 25th every year I still have flashbacks to the moment the doctor walked in and asked the question that changed our lives. “Mrs. Samuels did you do genetic testing?”
Each year we celebrate Caila and her achievements. We share our love and adoration for her. I reflect on the way she impacts my life. The beginning, however, was extremely traumatic for me. I recall the terror and worry, soon after hearing the news. What would this mean for our perfect little family? My career? How was I going to achieve my dream of being on the cover of Fortune or Forbes magazine? How would her older siblings ever find spouses? Would we ever travel again, host guests?
We made a decision that we would not be victims. Caila was never going to a burden but a child to be loved and appreciated for who she is.
Now I watch her incredible achievements and her ongoing struggle for social and community inclusion. Next year, she will be transitioning to high school and her life will be filled with new challenges and opportunities.
I have 13 blessings for Caila as she enters teenagerhood:
She should always reach for the stars and never give up
See her unique voice and value to society
Live in a community that will celebrate her differences not just offer kindness and political correctness
Her educators understand her unique abilities and give her the platform to learn and grow
That she should look in the mirror and love the person she sees
She should find friends who love and appreciate her beautiful soul
She should never stop giving and caring for others
She should always be a role model for others
She should break stereotypes and glass barriers
She should always be our teacher
She should always be the light of our family
She should teach people that kindness is not a project for two hours a week. It’s not a project: instead, it’s a way of reframing the way you see the world
She should be equally comfortable in the world of people with and without disabilities
Caila, Abba and I love you beyond measure. We admire your determination.
I learned that in the United Arab Emirates they don’t use labels like “special needs” or “disabilities”. Instead, they refer to people with disabilities as people with determination!
That my dear Caila is what you are: a person of determination.
May you go from strength to strength.
Jodi Samuels is a speaker, non-profit leader, world traveler, community activist, special needs advocate, wife and mother. She is also the author of “Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine: The Journey of an Unstoppable Woman.”