Monday, March 9, 2009

Welcome to Holland

I went for a run (often my thinking/processing time) last night after posting my last blog and this story a friend shared with me years ago came to mind. I have seen it many times since then but each time am touched by its profundity.

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

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

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in 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 guide books. And 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....and 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, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very 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.

Emily Perl Kingsley 1987



Laura Lee said...

Touching....and can apply to our heart's attitude about any broken dream. We all have 'em, right?

I hear Holland is lovely.

Brandy said...

So true. I was sent this story when my older 2 kids were diagnosed with their special needs.

Jennifer said...


I love this and have read it several times. Funny how God calls things to mind... I actually thought of sending it to after reading you last post.

Thinking of you...

Heather said...

Wow, that's quite lovely, Jennefer! I've never heard it before... I'm so glad you took the time to share it as it has implications on so many levels~

Blessings to you this day!
:) heather

Tracey McGee said...

That took my breath away! I'll probbaly cry for the rest of the night! I have a son with special needs and had never thought of it in this way! Thank you Jennefer.