Sunday, April 13, 2008

Learning Dutch

A good friend of mine recently emailed to share her sorrow with us over Noah's diagnosis.  As with many people, she struggled to find the words to write and in the end shared with me an article that had been printed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch some years ago.  I share the article here because I was moved by how perfectly the author captured my emotions... and I hope it helps those who are walking beside us understand our journey a little better.  

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 guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondola 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 guidebooks. 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 that 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, 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."

The pain of that will never, ever, go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact tht you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

by Emily Pearl Kingsley (printed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on October 29,1990)


Deb said...

So true and Holland is a lovely place full of mercy, grace, joy, truth, and love!

All our love!

Anonymous said...

Unplanned trips in life are usually the best that anyone could have ever imagined. Love Holland and you will forever be happy.
The Cooks

Scott and Dena said...

This brought tears to my eyes. What a great perspective.

pbp said...

i have the chills. great story and a good reminder to all of us. life doesn't always hand us what we have planned. it's scary and exciting all at the same time!


Linz said...

Holland? How about Switzerland...not in my plans either. :)

Anonymous said...

Josh and Deb, I am glad you have an idea of what is going on with Noah. I loved this story, and your reflections on how life is going now are amazing. God is surely giving you grace to manage daily. I will continue my daily prayers for all of you, especially Noah.

The Wagners said...


Powerful! Thank you for the continued updates.


The Wagners


The Lauer Family