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An Extra Dash of Love: Letters Celebrating Down Syndrome (Chocolate River Publishing, 2020)

An Extra Dash of Love: Letters Celebrating Down Syndrome
Montreal - Monday, August 9, 2021

By Roanne Weisman

After the year we have all just endured, everyone could use a hefty dose of joy, compassion, kindness, love and even magic. This little book contains all that and more, most especially giving us hope that life, and the world, can be healed and become whole. The magic is found in every paragraph, poem and joyful drawing. The book is written about and by people with Down syndrome, whom one writer has called “capsules of magic.” Added one contributor, “This should be called ‘Up syndrome,’ since people with this syndrome never bring you down, but instead lift you up.”

The book’s foreword is written by Canadian fiddler Natalie MacMaster, who wrote about her daughter, Sadie, born in 2016 with Down syndrome. “And now, four years later, I want to shout to the world how much I love Sadie; how awesome she is; how great it is to be her mom; what a gift she is to me, her father and her siblings; how much they love her and how she brings out the best in them; how proud I am of her and how I am looking forward to growing old with her…”

This book was the dream of Sandra Blatt-Arsenault, president of the Greater Moncton Down Syndrome Society in New Brunswick. With the help of local media outlets, the organization invited the community, including local schools and organizations, to submit letters, poems, drawings and essays about their loved ones who have Down syndrome. Some submissions were also written by people who have Down syndrome, describing their lives.

Perhaps the best way to describe the inspiring contents of this book is through the writers themselves. Here is a selection of their quotes:

“I once had a friend tell me that our life’s greatest purpose is to give love and receive love. That was 13 years ago. I have pondered that statement numerous times since, only to keep rediscovering its truth.”

- Natalie MacMaster

 … chaque moment inattendu est un bonheur et nous fascine.”

- Laetitia, mère de Raphaëlle, Rouen, France

“If you are a new parent who has just received a Down syndrome diagnosis, please take it from someone who’s been in your shoes, it’s not what you’re expecting. Embrace it, enjoy the journey! We truly are the lucky few.”

 - Laurent, Dieppe, NB

 The life accomplishments of those with Down syndrome are evident in quotes submitted by family members, including this sibling:

“I was 6 years old when my mom brought home my little brother, Samuel. As I am writing this, I am sitting with him in our basement watching HGTV.  He is now approaching 16 years old. I can assure you, he fits the characteristics of a ‘normal teenager’ as some people like to call it. Everybody loves him, he participates in sports (Special Olympics) and after-school events just like everybody else. I have come a long way since being the school-aged girl with a little brother with Down syndrome. Down syndrome, thank you. Sam, thank you for being the best part of my being. You have taught me how to love, how to love all people unconditionally.”

- Veronique, sister of Samuel, Moncton, NB

An Extra Dash of Love can be found at Paragraphe Bookstore in Montreal, ordered through Indigo Books or from www.chocolateriver.ca. It costs $19.95.

Roanne Weisman is an author specializing in science, medicine and healthcare.