Friday, December 5, 2008

Welcome to Holland

by Emily Perl Kingsley - The mother of a child with Down's Syndrome.

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 guidebooks and make your wonderful plans.
The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice.
You 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 different 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 have been there for a while and 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 the wonderful time they had there.
And for the rest of your life, you will say
"Yes, that is where I was supposed to go.
That is 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.

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.


Jenie said...

Great story!

Eric and Ashley Wheeler Family said...

I needed that, today actually. :o) Thanks! I hope you are planning a fun Christmas. :o)

Connie said...

Oh my gosh.....I needed this. Thank you for posting it! I am going to print it out so that I have it right here to read...again and again!


Ashley said...

HI just found Brynlee's site through Monica! I love this poem!! So true I am going to have to post it on my blog too!!!