WELCOME TO HOLLAND
Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
Please take a few minutes to read this. It has a universal theme for all of us, not just a mother of a child with disabilities. . . . you maybe able to pass it along to encourage someone else. . . please do!
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.
I first read this when I was in graduate school and realized it was a wonderful metaphor for the challenges in life. Most of us will never have a child with disabilities, but all of us will have a broken relationship, a debilitating illness, the loss of a dream, or a terrible accident. There are so many more possibilities that could be added to this list. Today I felt I should share this story for someone, I have no idea who or even if that person will read this post. And for those who have not experienced such devastating loss. . .be patient and kind and gentle with your family and friends who have or are just beginning that journey. I have observed that all of us at one time or another in this time on earth will go through a loss. I hope this wonderful mama’s story of a lost dream will touch and inspire someone today to take a deep breath, adjust your dream, press on, and explore Holland!
Blessings. . . . . .