Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Welcome to Holland

Many people know about the beautiful poem by Emily Perl Kingsley called Welcome to Holland. If you have not ever read it, please take the time to read it.

Welcome to Holland
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......
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.

I had the best treat arrive in the mail last week. A dear college friend sent me this fabulous print called Welcome to Holland. If that was not sweet enough, listen to the story behind the painting.

The artist, Logan Welborn, was five years old when her mother, Michelle, read Welcome to Holland to her. Her sister Lilly, who is diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, had been in the hospital every 2-3 weeks for four months when Logan asked her mother, "Are we members here?"- meaning are we members of the hospital. Michelle read this to Logan to explain that Lilly was different and had special needs. Logan understood and replied, "So when you had me you went to Italy and when you had Lilly you went to Holland?" This understanding helped Logan appreciate and accept the differences her sister had compared to other babies.

Logan painted "Welcome to Holland" at age six with her art teacher. This painting has helped to raise money for the International Dravet Syndrome Epilepsy Action League.

Thanks Jen! Your gift meant more to than you will ever know. Each day I walk by this picture, I am reminded of Holland's beautiful tulips and windmills. I LOVE Holland!

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Kelly said...

What a great story and gift! Kelly F

Melissa said...

This gave me chills. That is such a thoughtful gift.

Myssie said...

What an awesome gift!!

Sawyer said...

What a great gift!

Anna said...

Beautiful painting...and it goes SO WELL with your wall color, too!!

Holly said...

So sweet. You are truly blessed yo have such thoughtful people around you.

Girlfrog said...

What a generous and thoughtful gift.

Jessica mommy to Alex/ RTS said...

So beautiful!

Cindy said...

What a beautiful painting...and a beautiful story.

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful and amazing, just like you! (and AK, of course!)
Love you.

Anne said...

That painting is beautiful. Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

The painting is a wonderful reminder that Holland is as wonderful and beautiful as any place in the world. I've been to Holland and Italy and while Italy has its wonders so does Holland. And right now Holland seems pretty wonderful to me.

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Bitsy said...

I'm crying! I have read that poem, but I never knew about the painting. Beautiful, just like AnnaKate.