Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Holland

When we first received the news about Gavin, I had a few people reach out to me with a very inspirational essay written by Emily Perl Kingsley (a dear friend of my husband's even left it for me as a comment on a previous post). This particular essay has been reprinted in several different languages, for print all around the world. Thank you to everyone who suggested this to me. I have a hard copy in my ever-expanding folder with all of Gavin's medical papers that I take everywhere with me. I typically read it once a day. It's good for the soul, and I think we will all get a good appreciation of our expectations, and how beautiful life is - just the way it is, as it should be.

It reminds me to not spend too much time mourning what might have been, but as an opportunity for discovering something very different, but also equally wonderful.

Welcome to Holland
by Emily Perl Kingsley
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 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...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 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.


  1. This is beautifully put. We have to look forward to all of the wonderful things that Gavin has to teach us. Things we probably would have never experienced. Its like when you take your kids back to the places you visited as a kid, or when you do the same things you did as a kid. It is just as sweet witnessing it from their point of view. Gavin will teach us all how to appreciate the world through ways that most of us take for granted. He is our blessing and our teacher! I can't wait to thank him when he is grown and I am old!

  2. Auntie Stacy is a dork and forgot to sign her previous comment and doesn't know how to fix it!


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