Sunday, December 23, 2007

Welcome to Holland

Those of you who came to the church might have seen the table displayed with many tulips, a poem and a picture. Some of you might have gotten an explanation, but others might not have been aware of what that was all about.

There is a poem entitled "Welcome to Holland" by Emily Kingsbury that likens the journey of having a child with special needs to a trip. After Annette had Ryan, she became fond of this poem. She also reached out to an internet group that was made up of women (and some men) from all over North America and even the world and became very close friends with them. Together, they shared their journeys. Two of these special women even made the long trip up from Indianna to attend and speak at her funeral on behalf of everyone.

The poem means a lot to many of them. Annette's favourite flower became a tulip because of this poem. Over 25 women from all over Canada and America each sent one single tulip in a bud vase. Together, they made a beautiful arrangement and I know Annette would have been very touched. That is the story behind the stunning table of tulips, which included the poem. Thank you friends, for that wonderful display of flowers, but more importantly for your love for Annette, which was born from the wonderful journey you all share.


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 for some, the pain of that will never go away... because the loss of that dream is a 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.


Mauzy said...

I was honored to be there, and honored to have Annette as a friend.

I put her requested I Christ Alone song on my blog. Now, don't sing it whimpy!

love, Jan

Kris said...

Thank you for posting the picture and the story for those who don't know it. Your sister was such a wonderful advocate. She did so much for the Down Syndrome Community. Of course, to us from her on-line community she was our friend, our most beloved friend.

Thank you and hugs to you and your family. All our love,
Kris and Jennifer

Jeff said...


Thanks for posting the picture and the poem. I am glad Jan and Shannon could be there.

Shannon **Gabi's Mom** said...

What a beautiful display of love and I am sure exactly how Annette would have loved it.

Anonymous said...

That poem opened a door of understanding for me when Annette first posted's so perfect and so beautiful... thanks so much for sharing it again... Jen (Wright)

Anonymous said...

Wow. I am a special needs teacher in SC. I ran across this on the internet while looking for the poem (which is posted in my room at school) for one of my master's classes. I am sorry for your loss. I am sure your journey through "Holland" will always be treasured. Donna