Saturday, December 8, 2007

Welcome to Holland.

We were initially sent this piece when Owen was six weeks old, after our first stay at Children's Hospital. We have since received it from mothers of daughters with a disability, mothers with sons with a disability, therapists, family, friends... We thought we'd share.

By Emily Pearl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a
disability - to try to help people who have not shared the unique
experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous
vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your
wonderful plans. The Coliseum. Michelangelo's "David." The gondolas
in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack
your bags and off you go. Several hours later, your plane lands. The
flight attendant comes and says "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!" you
say. "What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed
to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland
and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken
you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine
and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. You must learn a whole new
language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never
have met. It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after
you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around
and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips,
Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're
all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the
rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to
go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever,
ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to
Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely
things about Holland.

1 comment:

karengberger said...

We, too, found this poem in a book that the hospital gave us, in the early days of our stay there with Katie. It is a beautiful metaphor.

It is a real help to all of us when people share their truth. Thank you for the reminder.