Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Welcome To Holland

(This story was shared with me a few times this past week)

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 wonderful vacation trip to Italy. You get a bunch of guide books and make all your plans. The Colosseum . . . the Michelangelo David . . . the gondolas of Venice. You get a book of handy phrases and learn how to say a few words in Italian. It's all very exciting".

"Finally, the time comes for your trip. 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. "Holland? I signed up for Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy!

"I'm sorry," she says. "There's been a change and we've landed in Holland."

But I don't know anything about Holland! I never thought of going to Holland! "I have no idea what you do in Holland!"

What's important is that they haven't taken you to a terrible, ugly place, full of famine, pestilence and disease. It's just a different place.

So you have to go out and buy a whole new set of guide books . . . you have to learn a whole new language . . . and you'll meet a whole new bunch of people you would never have met otherwise.

Holland. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy . . .

but after you've been there for a while, and you've had a chance to catch your breath, you look around and begin to discover 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 great 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 planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away. And you must accept that pain - because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

But . . . if you spend your time mourning the fact that you never got to go to Italy, you may never be available to enjoy the very lovely, very special things about Holland.

"Welcome to Holland!"

by Emily Perly Kingsley


Anonymous said...

Great story- and so true! And it's funny, or coincidental, that she would choose Holland as the other country. Since our family is Dutch, we already know how beautiful Holland is (actually, it's now called The Netherlands)and how many special things there are about Holland. Anyone can go to Italy... but we get Holland ! And she really special! I love you! Dad Beukelman (Craig)

Lana Brouwer said...

Erin, I bought that book the day Taylor was born, read the whole book in a day. I didn't send it to you yet with the clothes I sent you because I didn't know if you were ready to read it yet (much less have ANY time to read :) ! I'm saving it for you if nobody else gives you a copy, it was very good! So glad Taylor's dr. appt went good. Don't worry about her weight, she's doing great!

Michelle said...

AWESOME! So perfectly stated. xxxx

Carri said...

How beautiful! What wonderful imagery! She even has little tulip lips.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to enjoying the trip with you guys!

ERIN said...

Thank you.. it does a heart good to know and see how much she will be loved..

Kel said...

wow, that was powerful...for many different areas of my life. I need to enjoy Holland...thanks...and as for Taylor, she will be very loved...