Coming soon from eFitzgerald... available in print and in eformat

Hello and welcome to our book's blog. How David Met Sarah is the story of a young man with Down Syndrome who falls in love with a young woman with autism. What makes How David Met Sarah different from any of my previous work is that I wrote the book for my youngest brother. He is 36 and has Down Syndrome.
I wrote How David Met Sarah with two goals in mind: to give my brother a story he could read and enjoy on his own, as well as one that had a hero with which he could identify. Like the main character in the story, my brother lives at home with his parents, works in a mail room and has even been in love.
I didn't intend to publish the story at first. My brother loved the initial chapters, and that was enough to encourage me to complete it. But one day I needed a sample manuscript to use at a writing workshop. The only work in progress I had to share was this one. I used the opening chapters in the workshop, and the response was so positive, I was encouraged to share the story with everyone.
How David Met Sarah is a story that is not only accessible to those with developmental disabilities, but also offers insight into what it's like to live with such a disability. My brother and I hope everyone enjoys it. Thanks for stopping by....Annie Kelleher (and David Kelly)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Me and my brother, David

My brother David was born when I was sixteen. 

Almost from the hour of his birth, my mother knew he was going to be different from her three older children. 

I knew for almost three years before he was born. 

I don't know how I knew, and I'm still not sure why I knew.  But from the time I was barely thirteen, I knew David was coming.  I knew it in the way I know my name, in the way I know I have brown eyes and am left-handed.  I didn't want to know, and I didn't want to believe it.  Not just because it seemed like a terrible was also because I knew no one would believe me.  

It began the winter I turned thirteen and my mother told us she was pregnant.  It was a tumultuous time in our lives.  Money was scarce, the relationship between my mother and her mother, my grandmother, had detiorated into what I remember as the Great War of my childhood.  Things were bad, and there was no expectation things would be better any time soon. 

I knew there was going to be something wrong with this baby.  Something big.  

I can't explain how I knew this.  I only know I raged at Heaven.  No, I remember saying emphatically one morning as I was getting dressed for school.  Besides everything else that was going on, I remember I was failing algebra for a second time.  No, I said, to whatever - or Whoever - might be listening.  You can't do this to us.  You just can't.

And Heaven acquiesced.  

I could feel it.  Deep, in my bones, in the way I know the sun rises in the east.  A few weeks later my mother had a miscarriage.  A part of me knew it was only a reprieve.  The baby - the baby with something wrong with it - was coming eventually. 

But not now.  Not yet.  We weren't ready.

I remember the dilemma I briefly faced.  Tell my mother what I knew, and risk ridicule... or worse?  I'd read Dr. Spock's Baby & Child Care cover to cover when my mother was expecting my sister when I was ten.  I knew all about magical thinking and sibling rivalry.  I was pretty sure I knew what my parents would think.  I decided to keep my mouth shut.  

But the next fall, at the beginning of my sophmore year of high school, I remember sliding into my desk the first day of biology class and opening the textbook waiting for me to a random page.  My eyes fell on the words "Down's Syndrome."  And a Voice at the back of my mind very quietly said, "That."

When my mother announced her pregnancy, glowing, a year or so later, I remember a sense of "Well, how about it?" from the Voice.  And this time I was the one who said "Yes." 

But I still didn't tell anyone.  .For one thing, I wasn't quite sure I wanted to believe I was really having conversations with Heaven.  I had enough to do with high school and growing up and my crazy family.  Now things were about to get crazier and my active participation seemed to be required.  Besides, I figured, was it really any of my business?  Surely my mother's OB would recommend the necessary tests, even though, as a devout Catholic, my mother would never have considered terminating the pregnancy. 

But he didn't.  And my mother just glowed. 

So no one was expecting David.  But me.   The night my brother was born, I heard the phone ringing while I was giving my little sister a bath.  "That's Mommy," I thought.  "To tell me there's something wrong with the baby."

And when I picked up the phone, those were her exact words.  "Honey, there's something wrong with the baby."

"What is it?" I remember asking. 

"He's...he's slightly mongoloid." My mother's usually firm voice faltered.  

"No," I remember I said.  "He has Downs' Syndrome.  And it's not that bad."

"How do you know?" asked my mother, and I could tell she was taken aback by the certainty with which I spoke. 

I remember my hesitation.  I had an opportunity then, to tell the truth.  "We studied it in school last year," I remember answering, feeling weak.  My answer was true, as far as it went.  But it wasn't how I'd known. 

I didn't spend a lot of time with David when he was really little... his first nine months were spent mostly in a hospital, fighting pneumonia.  And then I graduated high school and went to England,and my life took off in another trajectory.  It seemed odd that something I knew so clearly seemed to matter so little in my life. 
When my mother suggested I try my hand at writing a book my brother might enjoy reading, I wasn't sure I could do it.   On the surface, after all, our lives are so different.  I'm a girl, he's a boy.  I'm the oldest, he's the youngest.  I have brown eyes, his are blue.  He has Downs' Syndrome and I don't. 

And then I remembered how often it has occured to me how much alike David and I are.  We both love music, especially Irish music, and we love to sing.  David knows the words to more songs than I do.  We both love to dance.  We both love to fact, we prefer to spend our mornings exactly the same way: listening to music and writing.  I'm usually either blogging or working on a novel; David writes all sorts of things.   And recently David suffered two things everyone can relate to... unrequited love, and a layoff from a job he really liked. 

Thus, this story - and the ones which will follow it - grew not just out of my wish to give my brother something I've enjoyed all my life: a good story, well told.  This story grew mostly out of the deep connection I've always shared with my little brother... a connection that began even before he was born.  

David loves "his" story.  We both hope that others will enjoy it, too.   
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