I am not a religious person. My parents had me christened but I think that’s because, in the 80’s that’s what a lot of people did. We never went to church and I do not follow any kind of faith. However, saying that, I do believe our loved ones that have passed watch over us like angels and I believe people must go somewhere after death – I just don’t know where. When you get married you can choose whether that marriage happens in a church, in the eyes of ‘God’ or if you aren’t this way inclined you choose another way. When you die everyone has a funeral in a church or some other form of religious setting. We can all have different faiths and beliefs about what happens after you die but at the end of the day we are all taking the same door out, whether that be through means of committing our bodies into the ground or asking loved ones to scatter our souls in our favourite place.
A few months after I learned something was wrong with Edith I had an overwhelming need to have her life recognised. The explanation of this feeling is really hard to put into words, but I will try.
We had no prognosis for Edith at the time and I just wasn’t sure what the future held and began to think the worst. After my initial thought I spoke to Dan about his feelings on the matter and he wasn’t keen. A year passed and I sadly had to face one of the toughest challenges of my life, Cancer. In May 2015 I was diagnosed with stage 1b2 cervical cancer and had to undergo a hysterectomy. I had a very large tumour but luckily it had stayed within the one area and was able to be solved with surgery. This put a hell of a lot of things in perspective and after my surgery in August 2015, I decided to bring the subject up again. The thought of dying and leaving my precious girl to face this world without her mum was more than I could bear and it made me feel recognising Edith’s life was more imporatant than ever. After hearing my pleas again in light of what I had been through, Dan agreed to go ahead.
I began to trawl the internet for an answer and I came across a ceremony called a Blessing. This meant that Edith’s life would be recognised within a church without tying her into any kind of faith. I contacted the Reverend for our local church and explained our situation and hoped she would be happy to Bless Edith for us. She was more than happy to do this for our family and we began to make arrangements. My mum lived Australia at the time and it was important for me that she could attend. We knew she was due to come over in December and that we would only have a small window. We arranged for Edith to be Blessed at our local church on Sunday 6th December 2015 with our close family and friends.
It was such a wonderful day and one we will never forget. I decided I wanted to read something during the ceremony and looked through the internet for a suitable reading or poem. This is when I found ‘Welcome to Holland’. Although not applicable to all, I felt this reading explained the isolation and realisation I was feeling at the time.
WELCOME TO HOLLAND
Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
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 Holland?? 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 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 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.