We recently received Little Guy's "official" diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. Until now, it was only assumed that he had Asperger's due to our family history and the many autistic-like characteristics he was displaying.
It was harder than I thought it would be.
Having been through this once before, I was surprised at the myriad of emotions that overtook me.
Shock. Anger. Guilt. Grief. Acceptance.
In many ways, it's like the grieving process. But instead of mourning the physical passing of your child, you are mourning the death of many of the hopes and dreams you had harbored for them.
However, dreams can be reborn - and you learn to cope with the new "normal".
And actually grow to enjoy it.
I love the analogy given in the story "Vacation to Holland". It talks about a person planning the trip of a lifetime to Italy and the preparation, anticipation, and joy that goes into it. However, something goes awry on the journey and the tourist finds himself disembarking in Holland instead of Italy. Holland is totally different than Italy, and at first the tourist is upset and disappointed. Yet, it doesn't take long for him to notice the nice things about Holland like the tulips and the windmills. Things are slower-paced than in Italy, but the traveler learns to adapt to this difference as well. Although circumstances did not bring the tourist his dream vacation, he learns to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of this unexpected destination.
So it is with the parents of a child with special needs. Sometimes life has a different destination in store; you didn't plan for this to happen, you didn't want this to happen.
But happen it did. And it is up to you to find the beauty and grace in the unexpected situation.
Because the tulips are there, just waiting to be discovered.