So there’s a lovely, little anecdote called, “Welcome to Holland” written by Emily Pearl Kingsley. It is an analogy of sorts. It compares: welcoming a wee-one with a disability to a trip to Holland. If you haven’t read it, you should… You can find it here….It’s pretty amazing stuff….UNLESS…. you’re still grieving, you bleed Italian blood, or someone tells you this tale and botches it completely. Imagine my disdain when all three happened concurrently.
See, I was in the hospital after Judah was born, doing what I did. Crying huge, puddle making tears. My face was crimson and splotchy, my breath was hard to catch, my brain was blurry with suffering and my eyes were puffy and tired. In this state I would have preferred to be seen by no one. However, when you are in the hospital, nurses must make their pesky, frequent visits. Every time a nurse arrived, I felt the need to preface my crying; in case they didn’t know. Their facial expressions were all similar. They were nervous to be around me and annoyingly much less afflicted than I was. They held sympathetic eyes but didn’t quite get my condition. I still felt the need to purge my pain. I shared, sobbed and longed for them to say something along the lines of “oh, this situation is clearly upsetting you. Let’s put that baby right back, do it again, and everything will be perfectly okay.” Anything less than that statement invoked more tears and inner anger.
There was one nurse that we knew. She was lovely and what seems like forever ago, she prepared us for Calvin’s birth with “thee classes.” A great teacher, she was. A successful storyteller, she was not. When she coincidentally arrived in room 1410 she carefully reviewed my fragile state. Satisfied that she could solve my suffering, she cleared a comfy space for herself at the foot of my bed. She then attempted to launch into the story of “Holland”…..except, she couldn’t remember the name of the place. “What’s that place with the tulips?'” she asked Bobby and I. “The one with the windmills?” “Not, Switzerland, what is it?” THIS was our introduction to the story.
I am now convinced I had her flustered. When I say I was in a state, words do not do it justice. This kind, blessed, sweetheart of a woman was grasping for words that my position made her forget.. The pressure that radiated from my sad swollen eyes, told her “please! make this all okay.” I know now that I was a lot to take….so much in fact, that I made her forget the name of the place that a story was named after.
The nurse nevertheless continued the story with the same amount of stammering. She knew some parts. She remembered that “we” were supposed to be heading to Italy and that the place we were headed to was not “disgusting or famine filled.” When even more details escaped her she ended with, “well, anyway, basically, the story is supposed to show you that you are just somewhere different, not Italy but not bad….and that if you keep thinking of Italy then you will miss out on the tulips, and windmills in this other place.” I hugged her as Bobby and I doled out thank you’s. Then, when she turned to leave, she put a finger to her lip and calmy rejoiced “I remember now, it was Holland.” Not a minute later, when she finally retreated, my first words were: “Bobby, F#*& Holland!!!!”…and that’s how I came to hate the story “Welcome to Holland.” It was that place with a forgotten name, told with careless disregard, by a Holland loving nurse. It was compared to the native land of my ancestors and told when my body was an anvil of grief.
Others (and really, thank you all, it was not you, it was timing and it was ME) sent me this story via facebook in private messages. I kindly thanked them all and NEVER once re-read it. In fact, here is a quote from my first blog entry when I renamed it “Finding The Joy” : ….”I have chosen to rename and remake my life. I choose to not rename my life with a trip to Holland , but rather to include the “Italy” in all my obstacles.” WHOA!! That’s the stuff that denial quilts are sewn from. But, I wasn’t ready, and you can’t punch your airline ticket to Holland until you’ve felt what you needed to feel ……Oddly, close to Mother’s Day,with no real acknowledgement, I was finally ready.
Now, an attendant didn’t announce “Beth, you may board your flight to Holland now” and no one pulled my arm toward the gate. It was subtle, eerie, fated. I just happened to be scrolling through my Insta-friends, many that hold a passport to this different destination. Littlest Warrior (who I bought my “Be Kind” t-shirt from) was explaining another top-selling, toddler t-shirt that boasted “Holland Tour Guide.” She shared the story for her followers that didn’t know. For some reason, I decided to finally give the story another try. It’s like I read it with a new set of eyes. I bursted with pride at every line, screaming “YES” YES, YES… that’s us!!” I did imaginary victory leaps, with jazz hands singing in the air. I cried tears for being understood and how the analogy nailed it just perfectly. I was so excited that I had to shout it to someone and so I shared the tome, via Instagram , with my sister-in-law….( or as I like to call her, my dearest friend.) Being the busy women that we are, we never actually discussed what transpired. Then, the very next day ,a Mother’s Day card arrived, addressed to me from her mother. Inside, folded in fate, in my hot little hands, landed the story “Welcome to Holland.” I couldn’t call my sister-in-bestie fast enough. When we spoke, we could not believe the timing. It was too wild that I shared the story with her, just hours before the mailman delivered her mom’s card…. she revealed to me “my mom has been wanting to give that to you, and she knew she had to wait” The perfect amount of time had passed. The story was plastered firmly in Judah’s book, my layover had expired, my journey was embarking, and I couldn’t wait to tip-toe through the tulips.
To those who wonder, who are scanning for inside meaning, or wish they could strike it rich, extracting deep thoughts from my cerebellum. No need. My pages are here for you, crisp, open, waiting to be read….I pledge honesty to all of you…to every one of you…
To those with a fresh prenatal diagnosis . To those surprised while cradling their new one, just learning, averting the stare of precious almond eyes. To the old school ones, who knew only of institutionalization and premature parting. To those who feel I’m putting on airs or masking deeper despair. To those who fear or are ignorant (like I was) and to those who I wish I was 6 months ago; allowing, accepting, and adoring…
I am proud to announce that I am elated to be in Holland. There is no sadness, regrets, jealousy, or projection here. It is all a glorious revelation. I am Dorothy in Oz but with everyone I love. I know, I know,… those of you with the “fresh diagnosis” hate my positivity right now; my magical mentality. You can. You can want to stomp on tulips and detest windmills. In fact, you should. For when it is all over, and the grief is gone….you will think, jeez why did I ever hate Holland so much? Holland never came to kidnap me. It never took me captive there. It never made me love it. It just was… with it’s beauty and differences. All along it had sublime souvenirs, tour guides to teach me, and brilliant brochures. Most importantly, it had glorious natives like my very own Ju-Ju…They were right there, all along, to change my perspective of Mona Lisa beauty. Tales of tenacity, compassion, inclusion and prosperity run rampant in Holland. They easily sway me from rich red wines and crusty bread. I love you Holland. I have arrived. I am putting down roots here… And, I may still take that trip to Italy one day. But it will be to share all the fascinating artistry that Holland proudly holds.
Sidebar: As I was about to publish this, it occurred to me that Bobby and I chose tulips for our wedding. I have to wonder: was all this funny foreshadowing getting us ready? Our coincidences are too far frequent and magical to be anything else but divine!!!!! Thank you Jesus for our little blessing. Happy 6th months Bubba.