Learning to Grieve (part 2) – A Different Destination

The best description that I’ve found of what raising a child with a disability feels like is from Emily Kingsley.  Kingsley writes:

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 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.

947511170_dea998692fAs Amy and I sat through Micah’s IEP meeting and listened to the progress that he’s made in the last year, there was certainly a lot for us to rejoice over.  God has been so gracious to our little boy in bringing about more speech and greater understanding, it really is beautiful to see how much progress Micah has made.

At the same time our joy is different from other parents joys.  We rejoice that Micah is using more words than he was, we rejoice that he is able to follow basic commands.  It’s not that where we are with Micah is a bad place, it’s just different from other people’s experience and in that is where we learn to grieve.  To use Kingsley’s analogy, we thought we were going to Italy and somehow ended up in Holland.  It’s not that things are worse, it’s just that there was a change of destination and that change requires a season to grieve the loss of what you thought would be.

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November 01 2010 04:00 am | Devotional and Learning to Grieve

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