What seems like a lifetime ago, in a small board room when my girl was in the first grade, I was handed the poem ‘Welcome to Holland‘. Over the years, I would often come back to that poem as I came across moments in my girl’s life where I felt out of place in situations. Those moments where I was able to stand back and watch the people experiencing Italy and know in my heart that Holland is where we belong. During those times I would find myself feeling sadness because Italy seems so exciting and so full of things that just do not exist in the same way here in Holland.
We have gotten pretty used to the beauty that comes by living here in the world of disability. Those moments of feeling out of place have become rare as we have settled in.
And then without warning, the tears stung my eyes as I was transformed back into that space of uncertainty. Stuck into a land of unknown territory, I watched through what appeared like a window into the world of Italy again. I was surrounded by other parents eagerly awaiting the information about the upcoming senior year activities and graduation. The language that was spoken was unknown to me–I heard words like college scholarships, acceptance letters, and honor cords. The culture I observed through this perceived window was also unknown to me–hugging, laughter, anticipation, and parents with hope for the future.
The sounds and the words being spoken were swirling around me as I sought to take in all of this unknown land. My girl next to me was my only familiar comfort. As I looked over at her, I saw that in her own way, she too was observing this strange land. I wondered to myself what she must be thinking, and then I was comforted by remembering that she is the tour guide on this trip through Holland. I remembered she has the ability to see and experience parts of Italy and not feel any sadness because she knows that Holland is where she belongs and it is extraordinary in its own beauty.
My heart was heavy and I was tired of fighting back the tears as I drove home. Sitting next to me in the car, my girl clutched her cap and gown with nervousness and excitement. As I glanced over at her, I remembered that any sadness I have is my own, and that she is good. She is content. She is completely okay being in Holland. I came back to the present moment and I became grateful for that moment years ago when the door was opened for me, and ultimately her. Had I kept the death grip on Italy, I for sure would have never grown to love Holland.