Sunday, October 19, 2008

Welcome to Holland

byEmily Perl Kingsley.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with adisability - to try to help people who have not shared that uniqueexperience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's likethis......When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulousvacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and makeyour wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It'sall very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You packyour bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. Thestewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland.""Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up forItaly! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of goingto Italy."But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed inHolland 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 awhole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people youwould never have met.It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, lessflashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and youcatch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice thatHolland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even hasRembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... andthey're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. Andfor the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I wassupposed to go. That's what I had planned."And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... becausethe 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.

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