Unexpected favorite

If you cannot tell by my intro, my favorite poem is Robert Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled”. Although with the birth of Regan nearly thirteen years ago I hold another poem very dear to my heart. The great thing is that it completely goes hand in hand with the Robert Frost poem, because having Regan has definitely enriched every day and made all the difference. Anyway…..I thought I would share my unexpected favorite:

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
Posted by Christine at 11:04 PM
Labels: Emily Perl Kingsley, favorite poems, Robert Frost, Welcome to Holland
2 comments:

Pamela said…

What a touching poem. Thanks for posting it.
8:24 PM
Elizabeth Channel said…

OK, I just have to tell you that I had coffee a few hours ago with a new friend whose son was recently diagnosed with ASD; she shared this story with me and we talked about it at length. Then I was searching around and clicked on your site and saw the actual story!

Just a little interesting!