The Mighty Logo

The Two Images You Envision for Your Child's Life Before and After Diagnosis

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

***The essay “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley is touching and relatable for many parents. I was inspired by her essay to write a similar piece with my own twist of my experiences and emotions. While I can relate to most of the emotions in “Welcome to Holland,” my emotions were a bit different as I gave birth to three healthy babies, two of whom would later be diagnosed with life-changing diagnoses. I wanted to convey the story from the perspective of landing in Italy and spending some time there. But then one day waking up to find you’re actually in a country similar to both Italy and Holland and have been there the entire time without realizing. These are the emotions of living in two different worlds at the same time, and the gratitude of understanding the beauty of both worlds.***

When you lay your eyes on your child for the first time, that blurry picture in your head finally comes into focus, after months of anticipation. The little face you can’t take your eyes from, is now a prominent subject of the painting in your mind. That is your life. This painting is beautiful, filled with detail so certain. Along with this breathtaking new face, are equally breathtaking images of blissful baby snuggles, terrific toddler feats, and playgrounds filled with running, climbing and laughing. You see pure joy on the faces of those you love and feel an abundance of pride as you take in every detail of this painting in your mind.

As months pass, you continue to gaze at this beautiful painting with blissful anticipation. Until one day, an unfamiliar detail catches your eye. Suddenly, your vision readjusts, and each detail transforms in front of your eyes. The painting you’re now looking at is completely different than the one you just saw. There are startling images of hospital rooms, medical treatments, pain and tears in this painting. Confused, you question “Am I looking at my painting?”

You have memorized every beautiful detail of your painting. How can it completely transform before your eyes in an instant? Was it all an illusion? You wonder, will you ever see the images of your original painting again? The shocking new images are frightening at first, but as you frantically scan the details before you, you soon see it is not at all such a different or displeasing painting. It is equally as beautiful and detailed as the original. You now see such strength on the faces of those you love and feel an abundance of hope as you gaze at this newly transformed painting.

You then realize when you adjust your vision again, the original painting is still there. There are details of one image making up exact opposite details of the other. You can adjust and readjust your eyes and see both equally beautiful, equally detailed paintings and realize they were both there the entire time, existing together.

The painting in your mind, that is your life, is an optical illusion. Your perspective has changed and introduced a whole new painting. A completely different painting, that brings with it pain and fear but also love, hope, strength and the utmost appreciation of life and knowledge. At times, you’ll question your sanity of seeing such contradictory images so clearly at the same time. But you are thankful to see both paintings, as understanding both brings knowledge and strength you never imagined having. An overwhelming sense of appreciation comes over you as you visually manipulate between the two images. The blissful illusion that the more painful painting never existed is fleeting.

Originally published: February 14, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home