It is amazing how quick God was providing encouragement for Ryan and I through other parents. My mom quickly found out that a neighbor of hers had a 7 year old grandchild (I think it was a grandchild) with an arm just like Carters! She passed along my email and she sent me a very nice note encouraging me in many ways. She talked about how their son was sponsored at Shriner’s Hospital, how she sewed his clothes to make them work better for her son, and how he did anything he wanted to do. That was neat. I also met a lady on facebook who has a son about a year older than Carter and he is also missing his left hand. She was a Christian and sent me several notes, sharing with me things that I felt, but couldn’t put into words. My sister-in-law’s friend had a son born a few months before Carter with down syndrome, and she even felt a connection. She got my address and mailed me a wonderful card. How encouraging! Of course, all of these things made me emotional, to experience God’s faithfulness to take care of us and to provide us with others who understand. You see, until you have been there, you can’t really understand, and there is nothing wrong with that. But it is nice to know others who do.
Several of these ladies shared the same poem with me. I would like to share it with you.
(I would like to say before you read it that there are a few things that I don’t like about the poem. First, it talks about a disability. I believe Carter has a “difference,” but if you look up disabled in the dictionary, you will never think he has a disability. Second, the poet says she will never, ever get over the pain...I have to disagree with that. Other than those two things, it’s a sweet poem that allows you to imagine what it feels like, at least in the beginning.)
Welcome to Holland
By 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.