Holland Is Wonderful

Last week I told you this week is CHD Awareness week. I also told you about my daughter Allison who has a CHD called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). Well, today I want to bring you a poem. It was written by a woman in 1987 named Emily Perl Kingsley. She has been a writer for the PBS kids program Sesame Street since 1970. She also has a son, Jason, that was born with Down Syndrome in 1974. It was said back then that children with Down Syndrome could never walk or talk. Jason proved them wrong by co-authoring a book with Mitchell Levitz titled “This Is My Son.” Emily Kingsley has written several kids books and a couple Sesame Street home videos. She has also won 12 Daytime Emmys and 9 nominations for her work with Sesame Street. Although this poem was written about her son, I feel it also applies to the situation me and my wife have faced having Allison.

Welcome To Holland
Emily Perl Kingsley

©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.

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.


~ by Chris on February 12, 2009.

One Response to “Holland Is Wonderful”

  1. I’ve been to Italy several times, and yes, it was fantastic. But, it is a trip to Holland to open your eyes to all the different places LIFE takes you. I LOVE HOLLAND!!!

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