Ditches

by Sherine Gilmour

Some mornings the bus is silent. We cannot speak words to each other.
We simply cannot speak.

The morning after the landmark study came out “Mortality and Autism
Spectrum Disorders,” the bus is silent. Gears turning. Pistons
muted. We are captured in a metal echo chamber. Heads filled as if
underwater. The bus bucks and sways over potholes. Over ditches.
Our mothery heads move back and forth in unison. Even the children
seem sleepy. Not crying, no laughter.

Just then, another mother turns to stretch. We catch each others’
eyes. Just a slip, like a fish swimming past, and in that millisecond,
my eyes told her I know. Her son is low functioning, he will likely
die before the age of 50, most likely before he graduates from high
school. Complications such as kidney disease, respiratory failure,
cerebral hemorrhaging. Her eyes told me she knows my son, high
functioning. Likely cause of death: suicide.

We are on a bus bringing our sons to preschool. We will likely attend
many funerals.