"Welcome to Holland": Beautiful Advice for Parents of Kids With Special Needs & Health Issues by Catherine Hopkins

"Welcome to Holland": Beautiful Advice for Parents of Kids With Special Needs & Health Issues

“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.”

This essay, by Emily Perl Kingsley, was shared with me by my son’s pulmonologist when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at just 3 weeks old. I had never gone back and read it until his first hospitalization last week, at 9 years old.

Sometimes it is hard to see the beauty in the midst of pain and worry, but it is surely there. If you allow yourself to find it, others will bring it to you!

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This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it and I hope your son is OK.
Ann Marie Patitucci
Thank you for sharing this beautiful essay and your personal connection to it, Catherine Hopkins . My thoughts and prayers are with you and your son. Welcome to our community of writers. We are so fortunate to have you with us.
Katie Sloan
Thank you for sharing your heart. I completely get where you’re coming from. (As a side note, if the opportunity arose I’d choose The Netherlands over Italy any day. 😊)
Elisa Schmitz
This brings me to tears. So many parents can relate to this. Many thanks for sharing it with us, Catherine Hopkins . I am keeping your son and your whole family in my prayers. I know a family that also went through the challenges of CF. Keep being strong, you are amazing. Welcome to 30Seconds and I can't wait to read more from you!
Tanya Kuzmanovic
i LOVED this -- powerful. And beautiful.
This is beautiful. 🙏🏼

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