Welcome to Holland
by: 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."
I went to Holland once, too. I bought a one-way ticket to Italy, but my plane was hijacked, and I was taken to Holland. The flight was terrifying, but when I landed, something amazing happened. I fell in love with Holland. It is the most extraordinary place I've ever been. If I had spent my entire time there mourning my lost trip to Italy, I would have never been free to enjoy the impossibly wonderful things about Holland . . . about my Gabriel Nicolas.
I had a round-trip ticket to Holland. My stay was very short, and then I came back. Now I live in Italy. Not them. Holland is where they must stay. They didn't plan this trip; no one ever does. They had their sights set on another destination. I can tell they are proud of their new home, though. And why shouldn't they be? After all, Holland has . . .
windmills . . .
and tulips . . .
and even Rembrandts.
And for Cassidy, Holland has a long awaited play date . . .
for this little superhero
who inspires us once again to pray and believe in miracles.