Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Welcome to Holland

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A friend of mine sent this to me last week. The first time I read it I bawled because it is so true. As I read it again this morning, I again cried as today has already been a trying day with Jesse. I wanted to share this with all of you as it really touched me. I definately have my days where I still long for Italy and other days where I am able to enjoy being in Holland. Thank you so much Nina for helping to find the words for the many feelings I have.

Welcome To Holland

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.


Rachel C. said...

I sort of feel the same way with taking care of my mom. It's obviously very different from raising a child with a disability, but in some ways, it's similar.

I hear about/see people with their moms... trips they took together, shopping together, taking care of the kids, giving advice, etc. Their vacation to Italy. I won't have that. And it's sometimes very painful for me.

But my trip to Holland is pretty nice, too. I have a lot of blessings that I wouldn't have had other wise. For instance, coming to Caldwell, being in the C3rd ward. HUGE blessing for me and Derek! We would have never come here if it weren't for my mom's worsening MS.

So thank you so much for sharing this valuable piece of insight. I think I'll share it again in my Friday Finds!

Orton Family said...

That is beautiful Hannah. I am so glad Holland is a beautiful place too. I like what she says - you just have to get new guide books and learn a different language than you expected. I hope things get better and better for both you and Jesse in knowing how to work with him and speak his language, because he is a wonderful boy. We would love to have your children come over and play anytime! Do you need me to watch them tomorrow while you go to the temple?

Sarah said...

Very neat! I love my Holland too! Life is full of challenges, obstacles and rewards. Sometimes we just don't realize that those obstacles are actually the most fulfilling rewards that we will ever have. We gain love, insight, patience and a whole new meaning of giving of ourselves. The love we receive from our "hollands" is more unconditional than most and gives a very different and fulfilling meaning to our own lives. Thank you for sharing this. You are truly a blessed soul and I love Jesse dearly (now only if he felt the same about me...LOL-all in due time). He is a blessing and a joy and has so many obstacles of his own that sometimes it's hard for him to see over the next hurdle. But that's what you're there give him a little bump to see over that hurdle to his success. Love you and miss you all!