Saturday, February 24, 2007

This ain't freaking Italy.

Or even Holland.

If you have a baby born who is anything less than 100% "normal," then you have most assuredly been sent, by some well meaning soul, an essay called "Welcome to Holland" by Emily Perk Kingsley. I won't reprint it all here. If you haven't read it, you can google it. It's all about how you can expect one thing, but you need to appreciate it, even if you get something different. I'm sure that for many, many people, it has great meaning and has had a positive effect on their psyche. The author had a child born with Down's Syndrome.

Blow me away, but last spring, in the Candlelighters newsletter (Candlelighters is an organization helping children with cancer), they reprinted the essay.

Are you freakin' kidding me???

Okay, so here's my retelling of this famous bit:

Welcome To Turkey
by Lizard Eater

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with cancer - 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 Turkey."

"Turkey?!?" you say. "What do you mean Turkey?? 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 Turkey and there you must stay.

Ah well, think you. I can deal with this. And Turkey has wonderful things. Culture. Turkish delight. Turkish coffee. Turkish all-cotton supima bathrobes.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. While you're in the bookstore, trying to buy guide books and sign up for a Berlitz course, two large men with guns and uniforms will come and grab you. They will accuse you of being a terrorist.

They will put you in jail. 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. Twice a day, guards will come in and beat you. Every evening, you will be tortured, as they try to get information out of you. "I don't know, I really don't know!" you will cry. "Did you drink diet soda while pregnant? Did you use commercial floor cleaner? Did you move to a polluted city?"

But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that every Tuesday, you get two spoonfuls of gruel, not one....and no one is annoying you by talking too loud on their cell phone. Turkey even has rats, whom you can make into pets.

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."

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 Turkey.



Chalicechick said...

Like it.

Karen said...

OH. MY. GOD. That was brilliant.

Every 7th Day said...

I'm in love. You rock. Shame your breath smells like salamander.