Friday, 28 October 2011

The Disability Diaries (The Life of J1) : The Life You Must Say Goodbye To

A friend of mine, who also has a child with disabilities, recently sent me the piece of writing that follows.  Unfortunately she did not write it, and did not know who had originally penned it, and I sadly have been unable to find out who did.  If I ever do, I will of course update this to reflect the author and if I ever had the chance to meet them I would love to shake their hand for so eloquently saying what I have been thinking for many years.  So to the unknown author, thank you, I hope to find out who you are one day.
Italy and Holland...
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 Michelangel...
o 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.


  1. stopping by from the blog hop. My oldest son has severe disabilities, including seizure disorder and legally deaf-blind. I can relate, will be back.
    Jennifer (

  2. Following from the blog hop, hope you can stop by!

  3. Hello. Found you via BritMums and I have to say this post moved me. What a brilliant way of describing a very 'difficult to describe' situation. Sarah x

  4. New follower here. hope you will FB

  5. Hi, I'm a new follower who found you through the Welcome To The Weekend Blog Hop. Hope you will swing by and say Hi at Horseshoes!

  6. This is so eloquent. It really spoke to me. Thanks for posting. I'm visiting from the Welcome to the Weekend blog hop. I'm now following you on GFC as Ericka T. Please check out by blog and consider following. Thanks.

  7. This really is very touching, the author really couldn't have put things into perspective any better!

    I am your newest follower on GFC! :)
    I hopped over from the blog hop on Family Approved.

    I would love for you to follow back, & come check out my blog (and giveaways) sometime if you'd like :D

    Sarah Kay

  8. Hello..landed from Our Footprints on the World..this post is really BEAUTIFUL! are absolutely right, not only shake hand, I think the author deserves some applause. Very well written! I am your new follower now on GFC and Networked blogs..please visit me back at, I would be very happy to have you in my GFC or Networked blog too :)


I would love for you to quack your thoughts along with me and will always try and quack right back.