Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Welcome to Holland

Encouragement can come in ways you never imagined.

A friend sent this to me tonight. Her son has just been diagnosed with an "autistic spectrum disorder" and she is coming to terms with that and what it means. While my children don't have those issues, I found encouragement and meaning in it anyway. I have a feeling that I'll refer back to it on those days that I feel overwhelmed by this life I've chosen.


Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

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.


JP said...

VERY well said! (But then I do love analogies!) This is definitely a keeper -- I feel like I'm in Holland quite often.

Just another southern gay guy said...

My Fella's younger brother is from Holland, a very new experience to me. I have never known anyone from Holland.

Sometimes he's talking, non stop, and no one else is there, from Holland. But he likes to talk.

Sometimes he looks at me and says something, and it's clear as a bell.

Sometimes he grins, and he looks like a 7 year old. Sometimes he grins, and he looks like a 40 year old.

I've known him only since September. I see him only in short trips. But wow.