To let you feel what I felt I decided to share my letters to Jennifer and her answer with you. Here they go:
thanks so much for your nice answer in our blog. how did you manage to find us? incredible, this blogosphere... I had written a personal letter to you already yesterday night, just didn't dare to sent it yet. Here it goes, to give you my personal thanks, in English, so there's no need to ask Tom.
you cannot imagine how deeply your book 'Road map to holland' touched me. While reading, there were so many moments I felt so connected to your experience, your feelings, it was as if I was listening to myself talking freely, relieved, honestly - finally freed of all the 'musts' and 'mustn'ts'. Touching my innermost feelings, fears and desires. It felt like a relief, as if - thanks to your words - I could finally get access to these deepest and strongest feelings that I thought were hidden. But inspired by your words I could suddenly touch and smell them and started to talk and write about them and felt so much more intensily out of a sudden, as if woken from a long sleep.
Thanks so much for having found these words, having shaped your experience in this book, being so honest to yourself and letting us smurk in your life silently - benefiting from your clear eyes and your honest voice.
When I learned that Lola, my now 10month old daughter, had Down Syndrome, or at least, when I first had this suspection, on my own, alone, in the middle of a november night, in a hospital bed, shortly after having given birth, laying lonely without my belly, without my baby, I only had the wish it would all be a nightmare. I will wake up, and everything is alright, my baby here, the sun, and all... But then, another strong feeling overcame me. I don't remember where it came from, however, it entered my mind. It was the feeling of a deep relief, of gratitude. 'Did you have to come to show me?' The strong knowledge, somehow, that I couldn't go on like before, trying to make my career in adademic life, succeeding in science, under the incredible pressures of our system... and I felt so deeply relieved that she had taken this burden from me and would show me her way of life, simple and rich...
and there I went, somewhere in between these two thoughts, sometimes quite close to the nightmare feeling, although I would never admit that. sometimes closer to the relief-side of the feelings, but never quite managing to feel it as intensely as in that night. mostly trying to find my way in between. trying to make things better, let love come and take me. one part of myself struggling against the deep wish to do the things the simple way, telling me that it's too obvious and naive, urging for complications that sound more important. I never imagined it was so difficult for me 'to take it easy'. Although Lola is my best teacher. And she has taught me so much, already.
Your life - as catched in your book - is such an incredible and moving account of how simple and rich life can be if you take it to the bottom - and smell the dusty autumn, put on the candles in the kitchen on a winter day, see your kids run down the hill, cook a chicken and it's smell in the house... and all the little details which remind us of our own childhood and there you can touch them again... and our kids grow, and grow, at their pace, in the rhythm they got from heaven.
I would love to tell so much more, but mostly, that I am awfully glad a woman like you does exist - and your vision of life and love. And even more that you write about it...
All the best,
And that's what she answered. You can imagine how I felt when I opened it...
First, thank you, so much, for this letter. Opening it was like opening a present! A really wonderful, beautiful, unexpected gift! Thank you, thank you.
And too, I love what you say. I love it so much! I'd never thought of Avery as lifting a burden from me, but he did. He absolutely did. I am so happy he did, and I can see that I need him around me often to remind me of this. And it's not just me who benefits, but our whole family.
I love that you related to my words enough to let them touch your life...and that through my story, you found peace in your own. That was always, always my greatest hope for the book, and my reason for working on it. It means so much to me that for you, it has become what I wished it would.
And life goes on! Life goes on, and just this morning Avery came into bed with me and smiled a drowsy smile and then casually, nonchalantly tossed his arm over my neck and kissed me and said, Luv you mom. I had such a feeling of love back for him, so pure. It was so simple, and I thought, Well, there's nothing more than this. We don't need anything more than this moment.
Have a wonderful day (and I love love love your blog, too!)
Jennifer Graf Groneberg
Road Map to Holland (NAL/Penguin, 2008)