Yesterday afternoon we went over to Newmarket’s first vigil in honour of the International Day of Mourning for People With Disabilities Killed by their Care Providers. I’d never been to one before and was intent on making it there this year. It was a beautifully simple vigil with a brief introductory talk, two reading, but the focal point was the reading of nearly 1000 names.
I have always believed that the names of disabled people are important. People with disabilities have been buried in graveyards and marked with their file number. Their names might identify who they are and who they were related to, they were buried, nestled in their coffins next to shame. Names break through and state “This is who I am.” Names challenge “And this is what you’ve done to me.”
There were so many children. Babies. I winced when I heard their names, how could this be? How does this come to pass? How deeply are we feared and hated? It gave me some kind of comfort to know that they are not forgotten, those of us who never knew them, those of us who now will never meet them, hear their names. Once a year they are spoken of.
They say that you die two deaths. The first is the death of the body. The second death happens the last day your name is ever spoken. We could not stop the first death, but by God we can delay the second. Their names were spoken all over, wherever a vigil was held. Candles may have been burning during the ceremonies, but it was their names that lit the room.