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 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 place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go and buy new guide books. And you will learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you have never would have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you have been there a while and you catch your breath, you look round you, and you being to notice that
Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrants.

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 loss of that will never go away because the loss of that dream is a 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.

Emily Pearl

Editor: this could apply to any catastrophe in life. I think it is very helpful, I hope you agree. Sent in by Ashby de la Zouch Stroke Club in Leicestershire.

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