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The Milestone


Taewon with a friend


BC Disability

September 10th, 2022


Becoming an uncle was an emotional moment for Taewon Kook, making him reflect on his life with cerebral palsy - from overcoming the odds people set for him as a child, to dealing with new challenges during the pandemic.


By Taewon Kook


My nephew Ethan’s birth was a new lease in life for the whole family. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we received the news that my sister-in-law was expecting.


When I first looked at an ultrasound of the baby, I couldn't grasp what it was. Perhaps, I was so preoccupied with surviving the pandemic in 2021 that my mind got foggy.


“It is a baby,” my mother announced, and I realized that I would be an uncle. Exaltation overwhelmed me at that moment. It blossomed in my chest and raced through my entire being.

Having lived with a physical disability (cerebral palsy) for life, I take no milestone for granted. During my childhood in South Korea, many adults gossiped that I wouldn’t reach adulthood, so I took that prediction as the truth of my life.


During my childhood in South Korea, many adults gossiped that I wouldn't reach adulthood

I expected myself to die a teen, as my existence was precarious due to health issues. Therefore, any special occasion was so precious and unexpected after my twentieth birthday.


The birth of my nephew was the most uplifting one among them. I had never dreamed of living long enough to become an uncle, yet I was one. However, the experience was incomplete due to Covid-19 pandemic.


I wished to visit my brother’s family for this milestone. Alas, it was impossible, and I saw Ethan as a newborn baby in the photos which my brother sent to my phone. It was a joy to see the little guy as he lost his newborn look and change into a chubby baby.


The photos provided me with emotional comfort while I was under self-quarantine in 2021 I couldn’t risk being infected, not knowing how coronavirus would interact with my physical disability and immune-related issues.


Furthermore, I had to live through the period to see my nephew face to face. That was my goal, and I achieved it in 2022. I held Ethan in my arms, and we took a photo together.


I felt the most exhilarating joy as Ethan walked on his own. While the uncle was never able to do that, the nephew would have no mobility issue.


He would experience and do things that I could only dream of due to my disability. It was a spiritual reward to see the baby walk around my room, though the little guy was unaware that his uncle’s heart was filling with happiness.


It was a spiritual reward to see the baby walk around my room

Now, I feel that I could have done more despite the pandemic. At times, I ask myself, “Should you have accomplished something more? “Isn’t surviving the pandemic enough?” Alas, my personal life hasn’t changed at all after the pandemic.


In truth, the experience taught me how vulnerable and disadvantaged I could be under such circumstances. I wish to see my nephew grow up, and I want him to remember me as a good uncle, be a role model, yet I might not live long enough. It is the thought that plagues me and the possibility is real as my health is not for granted.


However, I must strive on. I will start my job search again and find meaningful activities to participate in. To dwell on the negative aspects of my life is to waste this new lease in life.


After all, another turning point that rivals Ethan’s arrival to this world will eventually happen. To experience it, I need to stay alive first. My disability is one of many things to deal with in the process.


The rewards of a good life outweigh the hardship of my physical limitations, as my nephew, Ethan Kook, has shown me.

 

Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to spencer@bcdisability.com!