There is one, however, that truly speaks to me. I first read it when Kalisha was quite young. It was given to me by her teacher at the "blue school" and it made a huge impact on me. I get it out occasionally and read it again. It never fails to move me to tears when I get to the end.
I understand that some parents who read it might deny that they have ever felt this way, but I certainly have. Of course I love Kalisha and wouldn't trade her for the world, but I have, at times, felt like a visitor in this land of "special needs."
I hope you are moved by this as I always am.
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.
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous 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 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 bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that is 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 the rest of 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.
Written by: Emily Perl Kingsley