When my baby was born with Down syndrome, I received a writing called, “Welcome to Holland,” by Emily Perl Kingsley, from my local support group. I am grateful for the inspiration which has been felt by many who read it and love that was put into creating it; however I would like to relate my experience differently than hers, with another analogy of the feelings involved when having a disabled child.
For years, you save for your dream home and finally find the perfect house. The location is great. It has four bathrooms, real hardwood floors, and the biggest picture windows you have ever seen. Everyone you know is happy for you about your new house. You can’t wait to move in.
On the day you are scheduled to close, you receive a call from your lawyer explaining that the homeowners changed their minds and have decided not to sell.
You are shocked and sad. You have planned, waited, and prepared for this house, but now it is gone. You picked out new paint colors and decorated it in your mind at least a million times. You wonder, “How could this happen to me?” You think you will never find your perfect house again.
You decide to bid on an older house you walked through once before. There was something about that house that was comforting and the need for a home of your own is still strong. Your bid is accepted. You move in within weeks.
When you tell everyone about the loss of your “perfect” house and plans for moving into the other one, you receive many condolences. Everyone is sad for you, and all of your friends and family wish they could “fix it.” Nobody thinks it is fair.
You go to the new older house, immediately after you close. You wonder why you didn’t realize that it was so close to your favorite store. As you walk in the front door, you see a beautiful window full of stained-glass artwork which was hidden by a curtain before. As you continue to walk through, you notice the stained and dirty carpet, decide to look at what is underneath, and are amazed by the hardwood floors that are even more elegant than those in the other house. There are only two small bathrooms, but they have awesome claw-foot, porcelain tubs that are very deep and you can’t wait to soak in them.
You begin to realize what made you like this house initially. There is sweet character here. It is unique. There are rooms attached to rooms, and many hidden spaces that you never expected to see. This house will need work, and there are things about it that aren’t quite “perfect,” but you kind of like the imperfections; they add to the personality of the house. You immediately develop pride and love for this house because it is yours, imperfections, beauty, character, and all.
You can’t wait to tell those you care for how much you love your new house. You want to show it off to everyone and let them know how very excited you are. You don’t want to feel sadness anymore; you love this house and wouldn’t have it any other way. The other house would have been nice too, but the one you were given will bring you just as much joy, so there is no need for condolences. This house is where you belong, you know it, accept it, and love it. You will be happy here, and look forward to the experiences you will have within its walls.