What defines spirituality?

Is it a moment in time or is it a feeling?

I have had many experiences in life, which some would consider to be spiritual.

Learning to say the Shema and becoming a Bat Mitzvah.

Descending the stairs to pray at the Western Wall, watching the sunrise from the top of Masada, learning to pray by myself in Hebrew, and walking among the children of Israel in the streets of Jerusalem.

Would knowing my future have truly gotten me through the day or the experience of that moment?

Adapting the commandment of keeping kosher into my life.

Holding my grandmother’s hand as she took her last breath.

Seeing my husband, Jay, standing up on the bima, waiting for me to walk down the aisle.

Feeling each of my three children move for the first time while in my belly, then experiencing each of their births.

Listening to my children being blessed, by their father, on their very first Shabbat in our home, and now blessing the Shabbat candles, each week, as my children cover their eyes with me.

Or simply just sharing private prayers with G‑d.

As a teenager I used to think if I could just see into my crystal ball and know who I am going to marry and what my life would be like, I could understand today better. But would knowing my future have truly gotten me through the day or the experience of that moment?

Of course not.

While I might have been satisfied to know that I would experience all of these amazing spiritual moments. And, while I might have been happy to know that I would be married to an intelligent, handsome, and successful man, I would have been devastated to know that my first child would be born with a birth defect that would not only affect his life every day physically, but also affect how he is looked at by everyone he meets.

When Gabe was born I cannot tell you how many people said to Jay and me, “It is special people who are given special children.”

From the first time I heard this I was already finished with hearing it. Why had I been determined to be special? Did I want to be special? Did I want to devote my life to a child with disabilities?

Honestly, no.

I was, however, propelled full force into a world of feeding issues, hearing issues, and most especially, a place where the vain would never be able to survive.

I remember during the first week after Gabe was born, putting on my makeup and then wondering how I could be painting my face in an effort to be beautiful, when my son would always look different to anyone whose gaze falls upon him.

A hospital rabbi came to Gabe’s hospital room, after he had his 3rd surgery. Gabe, at this point, was still on a ventilator and we had just given him his first of two blood transfusions.

The rabbi looked at me and Jay and said in a solemn tone, “This is a trying time for your soul.” I looked at Jay and rolled my eyes.

From the moment the Rabbi said this to me, I thought “Are you kidding? No, this is a trying time for my nerves. It is my soul, my neshama, that is what is keeping me going. It is my neshama that has the spirit, the passion, and the belief in G‑d to know that we were going to get through this." We were going to take our son home better than he was when we brought him here. It was my neshama that gave me the strength to sit by Gabe’s bedside, somehow believing that everything was going to work out.

Gabe taught me how to believe, how to truly believe in spirit, in passion, in Divine Providence, and in my neshamah

I thank G‑d for my neshama. For it is this soul that holds that spirit, that passion, and that belief in Divine Providence as I am a firm believer in the thought that things happen for a reason and what happens in your life is what is meant to be.

I also thank G‑d for bringing Gabe into my life. Knowing what was in my crystal ball would have been both joyful and devastating. But now, living out each day from my crystal ball, living each spiritual experience, I am confident that I have a strength, a spirit, and most importantly, a soul, that I never would have seen as a teenager looking into that ball. Gabe taught me how to believe, how to truly believe in spirit, in passion, in Divine Providence, and in my neshama.

Gabe, as well as his brother and sister, Judah and Aviva, have taught me what spirituality is. It is not, just extremely spiritual moments in time.

It is not just the feeling that you have as you experience these moments. It is that passion, that fire in your eyes when you see something, when you live in the moment, or when you have a belief in G‑d.

This spirituality is something that children express in its purest form. When you meet my children, you see their passion, their spirit, and their souls. You see it in their smiles, you see it in their brows furrowed with curiosity, and you see it in the confidence that they exude. Judah, Aviva, Jay, myself, and all who have met Gabe are so unbelievably lucky.

I no longer worry how people look at Gabe or perceive him. I know that while it is obvious when meeting Gabe that he has facial differences, what people truly see is Gabe’s neshama, his soul.

Believing in Divine Providence is so very spiritual, and the passion and the spirit that my neshama holds not only gave me the strength to get through those teenage moments, but has shaped me into who I am.

And most importantly, this level of spirituality gives me the strength to be a loving, supportive wife and most especially to be the parent of three beautiful, intelligent, and passionately spiritual children, one of which just happens to have some disabilities.