Thursday, September 3, 2009

On Losses...

My father in law and youngest brother in law came to visit. It was a nice visit. They were just stopping through, though, and so we only had them for the night and they left a little after breakfast the next morning. While FIL was here I told him about my cousin who just had her first baby who was just diagnosed with Down Syndrome. My youngest brother in law also has Down Syndrome. I asked FIL if he would want to write a note to her as a parent of a Down Syndrome child. He pulled out his computer and read me this article below.

As he read it both of us became very choked up. I'll explain why in a moment.

Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley.
copyright 1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights

As published in “That All May Worship and Serve,” July, 2002,
as published on the United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries web site at

"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."

As FIL read this to me I felt like it describes my situation
well. A loss of expectations (over a child or over your life) is a loss all the same. And yet, there can be so much joy found if one is searching
for it.

I feel blessed to not have to search very hard.

And for the record, dear readers, I view you as the lovely tulips
that have popped up in the landscape of my life. Only not so numerous as
in the picture below. ; ) Um, and sorry if that was totally cheesy. I guess Wonder Woman is rubbing off on me. (hugs, WW!)

ugh...i stink at using the 'blockquotes' thing. how do i fix this?! blech...


jinksy said...

I think it helps not to have expectations, to recognise the best in what comes anyway, and to learn to deal with your 'NOW' to the best of your ability. Seems like a good life plan for everyone?

Chanda said...

Glad to be one of your tulips! :)

mama-face said...

I don't even know what blockquotes is and or are.

That was really beautiful and I was thinking of your experience throughout; of course. I liked hearing from your FIL.

I accept your award for most beautiful tulip. ha. Or turnip. Whichever you prefer.


wonder woman said...

I was just thinking yesterday that I wanted to plant tulips this fall. Now I will definitely do it, and think of you each time. (I heart cheese!! Ü)

What a beautiful analogy! When I first started reading it, I assumed the new destination would be Cleveland or someplace similar. When I read "Holland," I thought, "Oh, Holland. Still pretty. I wouldn't hate going to Holland." Which is exactly what the author wanted you to think. It's just a beautiful anaology.

I have a friend who knew she carried a genetic predisposition for a child with Down's. She has a daughter without it, and a new son who does have Down's. Both were tested in utero because she knew there was a good chance she wouldn't be going to Italy and wanted to be as prepared as possible. Her 2 sisters also have children with Down's, and they have a blog about I thought your sis might benefit from.

Autumn said...

That is an awesome letter, and a great perspective on things. Thanks for sharing!

MiMi said...

That really is a beautiful letter and can be used in so many different situations. Here's to Holland!

jmn2001 said...

Thanks for sharing're right it applies to a lot of situations. My problem since we got home has been that I was in fact in Italy, having a grand 'ol time before. Since we got home, it's been Holland and I've had a really hard time adjusting to the change...

... Maybe that stems from really bad memories in Holland involving a stoned man flashing me, no place to sleep because it was a huge national holiday, sleeping in the airport and using the last of our money to get a friend who had lost her ticket back to no food either..yeah Holland was a kick in the pants....but even with all of that, it now makes a really good story. :-)

Love you,


Anonymous said...

Tulips are gorgeous, I love the picture of them! I'm just stoppin by from SITS!