WELCOME TO HOLLAND
Emily Perl Kingsley
Emily Perl Kingsley
"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......
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 have never cried as much as I have in the last 7.5 years of my life.
The pain. The heartache.
The WHY her.
The gut-wrenching comments. The use of the awful word "retard". The countless hours spent at Doctors, Therapies, blood tests, hospital visits, surgeries.
The end-less meetings. Evaluations. The worry. The why don't you want her in your facility, school, heart. The never having the option to really breathe a sigh of relief.
The obstacles she has overcome: At birth I immediately knew. She wasn't breathing, fighting to "thrive", Complete blindness to functional vision, eating, growing, crawling, independent standing, walking, running, talking, singing, cheering, LEARNING, and her immense personality for days!
I would not be honoring God if I didn't tell you that there are hot-minute moments when I want to have "normal"...but honestly...I wouldn't trade one, single minute of any of this.
Lilah has taught me more about the real meaning of life. Holland is not easy, but it is the most breathtakingly beautiful place I am honored to call home.
Lilah's proud Mom