Oh Italy…Someday we hope to find our way to you!

April 12, 2011

In 2008, before all of the cancer turmoil began, my then-fiance and I were in the midst of planning a good-size wedding and a lovely honeymoon in Italy. We had everything booked and were well on our way toward planning an itinerary for the trip. Thank goodness for trip cancellation insurance, because we decided that with the pregnancy and the cancer going on, it was not an ideal time to visit. And to this day, we’ve never seen the country of my husband’s heritage.

This past weekend we purchased an oil painting at an art show featuring a lovely, colorful Italian scene with a gondola in the foreground. We thought it would be a nice way to keep Italy symbolic until the point arrives that we’re able to plan a new trip. We’re shooting for our tenth wedding anniversary in 2018, but who knows what could happen between now and then.

So, with the understanding that Italy is special to us for several reasons, the poem below strikes an even louder chord:

Welcome to 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 Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may even learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After several 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 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 but 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 placed than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there awhile 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 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.

(Copyright 1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.)

 So Italy, if we never see you, we’ll relish Holland and the life we have made there. Because all it really is, is…different.



  1. Beautiful, Nancy. Can you warn us when they’ll be especially emotional so we can get the tissues before reading? 🙂 Holland really is beautiful!

  2. Thanks, Dina. Maybe I should put a warning for the overall site. LOL!

  3. Nancy, I miss you and your wonderful spirit so much! thank you for sharing with us.

    • Same here, Dawn! Thank goodness for the internet.

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