He is wearing a hat.
I am, too.
In every single picture that I can find online of London McCabe, and there are many, he is almost always wearing a hat. His favorite seemed to be a floppy brown one with fake felt goggles and ear flaps. He wears it in his school picture, although it doesn’t go with his smart red-white-and-gray argyle sweater. Clearly, he liked hats. They were an important part of his identity. His clear gray eyes, under his hats, stare out at me from the screen, and I wonder if he felt more protected while wearing a hat. Or if they helped his sensory problems, or maybe the way they felt was comforting.
He is wearing a hat.
I am, too.
I have a habit at home of not taking off my winter hat for a few hours after I get home. I have three – they are all fleece and tight and soft and when I take them off at church or somewhere else I often find myself fiddling with one and rubbing the silkiness up and down. As I sat down to write this, an hour after getting home from work one winter evening, I am wearing one of my hats. I don’t particularly like temperature extremes of any sort, and so in this bleaker season, a hat is my transition object from indoors to out, from frosty starlight to the warm glow of the Christmas tree.
But there will be no Christmas tree for London this year. This year, he has only frigid air, rushing water and cold earth. You can say all you like about heaven, but I’ll tell you straight out that I don’t think London could possibly be in a better place because London is no longer here. He’s no longer anywhere. He is most assuredly not smiling down at us from heaven, his autism healed, his pain eased. London is dead, and if anyone out there has a twisted enough mind to think that being dead is better than being autistic – well then, as it turns out, you’ve got a lot of company.
The news reports say that he was ‘thrown’ or ‘plunged’ to his death off of the Yaquina Bay Bridge on November 3 of this year. I understand that newspapers cannot use, for legal reasons, certain terms until his mother is officially found guilty in a court of law, but at what point does the public get the straight truth? London was murdered. He was six years old and his mother fucking murdered him in cold blood. She took him for a walk and she looked at the water and she picked him up – because it is fairly easy to pick up a six year old – she picked him up and decided to end his life.
The news reports say that his mother suffered. They say that London suffered, too – suffered from autism. This is yet another thing that they get wrong.
People do not suffer from disabilities. They suffer from symptoms and from medical problems such as seizures. They suffer from being misunderstood and being unable to communicate. They suffer from a society which is still largely inaccessible, both socially and physically. They suffer from hundreds of years of oppression. And they suffer from the fact that it is 2014 and an awful lot of people seem to think that we’d be better off dead.
I didn’t know London, I didn’t know his mother, or his father, and I don’t claim to know what they were going through, not at all. But people who have no problems pointing out the logical flaws and overt racism in the case of Darren Wilson do not seem to see the logical flaws and overt ableism in the case of Jillian McCabe. When it comes down to it, both Michael Brown and London McCabe died because society had put them into a category – Black in one case, Autistic in another – which society does not value.
Black lives matter. They really do. But disabled lives matter, too, and the parallels are so obvious that they cannot be ignored. Despite the hardships that people of color face today, nobody has suggested that they be candidates for euthanasia (aka approved and encouraged suicide) due to their skin color. Yet Nancy Fitzmaurice’s mother was allowed to – legally allowed to – starve her daughter to death because the twelve year old had a severe disability.
I do not have any answers. I only have questions, and fears, and sorrow. It is dark, and it is cold, and we are all so very tired.
He was wearing a hat.
I am, too.