Monday, June 9, 2008

Roadmap to Holland

I recently read this book: Road Map to Holland by Jennifer Graf Groneberg.

I really can not explain how much it meant to me. It is a quick read and I devoured it. In one review I read before purchasing the book, the reviewer said that she wanted every person who loved her to read the book too. And I feel exactly the same way. There are emotions and feelings and deep down vulnerability that is not easily explained to other people when you go through this experience. Other people say they understand, but how can they truly know? Before I had Ben, I thought I knew and understood too, but there is so much more. This book will open your eyes--and your hearts in a way you've never known.

When Ben was born, we got a huge surprise. And it took a while for his diagnosis to really set in. Luckily (or unluckily) he needed heart surgery and so our minds quickly turned from Down syndrome (DS) to open-heart surgery. His DS just didn't seem all that important. Now that he's older and well, his DS is back in the forefront and we find ourselves revisiting the why? and the how?. This book helped reopen my eyes to the important things in my life and helped me focus again on what I've always known to be my priorities as a mother: my children's wellness, happiness and love. Ben is just like every other child. He is thriving and is happy beyond words. His brother and sister love him fiercely. And we are so lucky.

In the book, Jennifer talks briefly about an experience she had with a spiritual woman who granted her forgiveness. When I read those few pages, I started to shake. My insides ached and my heart felt so much strain, I thought I would burst. But then, as her story unfolded, I began to sob. Our stories intertwined so deeply at that point that I, too, felt like I had been forgiven. I forgave myself for ever thinking that Ben would not be all that his siblings are; for limiting him in a way that isn't right or deserved; for not giving him the chance to show me who he is going to be before I judged or labelled him. He deserves better and ultimately he will show me the way. I can say it now and truly meant it: I forgive myself.

In this story, Jennifer says that her son is the child she never knew she wanted. I know what she's saying. But, I know that my Ben was wanted. He was made out of love and he grew inside of me with love. One teensie tiny miniscule speck of genetic material changed our lives forever. Ben is who he is and I always knew I wanted him. Every single miniscule speck of him--with or without the DS. I love him with all that I am. I have never, ever felt luckier in my life.

If you get a chance and need a good read this summer, please buy Road Map to Holland. I promise you, you'll cry a little, laugh a little and at the end of the day, you'll hug your kids like you've never hugged them before.

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