There are thousands of incremental achievements that have created this monumental milestone! We have chronicled Corey’s determination, spirit, energy and accomplishments. We’ve shared tough days, joyous days and days our internal cheerleader’s mantra – NEVER GIVE UP AND NEVER GIVE IN – was our only source of strength.

The days leading to this date are always filled with reflection and mixed emotions. I had dinner with a very dear friend last night. She shared a story with me that is perfect for our 5th year post.

Welcome to Holland, by Emily Perl Kingsley (c1987)

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 Halland?? 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 Itally…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.

Our detour started 5 years ago. In many ways, this past year has been the hardest year yet. I’m so proud of you and our family. The road has been filled with rocks, potholes, barricades and too many toll booths! Despite not having a roadmap, tokens or speaking the language, we keep looking up to see where we’re going and what’s to come. We work hard everyday to enjoy what surrounds us as we learn and re-learn how to navigate this crazy ride. Next week we take another new road. I have no idea who we’ll meet, how long the road will be or what detours we might have to take but I do know, as long as we NEVER GIVE UP AND NEVER GIVE IN, we can travel anywhere xoxo