On Friday, Carys finished her last week of school for the year. It was a really sad day, because next term, she will have a new bus driver.
Edmund has been taking Carys to school for five years. Come rain, hail, fog, frost, snow or shine, he reliably turned up every morning with a smile and a joke, and there was no one else I would rather entrust my special little girl to. I always knew, from the first moment we met, that Carys would be safe with him.
He loved all the kids on his school run, knew them all well, their little moods and quirks and funny ways, what made them tick, when to pander to them, and when not. They all loved him. Carys was always happy to see him.
No matter how sleep-deprived the previous night had been coping with Carys’s needs or health issues, Edmund always cheered me up. He loved the kids, and he loved his job. Where disabled children are concerned, being their bus driver doesn’t mean simply driving a bus.
He hasn’t retired. He isn’t ill. His bus hasn’t conked out. He hasn’t lost his drivers license, sold his bus or emigrated. Every year he dutifully put in his tender for Carys’s school run, and every year he was forced to shave it back if he wanted to keep the business. This year, someone somehow managed to massively undercut his bid.
Strangely, he’s not the only one, and there has been quite an outcry. It is yet another example of disabled children being treated without regard. And I am concerned that someone who can slash costs so readily may be more interested in pursuing their own profits than the well-being and safety of the vulnerable special needs children entrusted into his care.
I cried when I said good bye to Edmund. I watched him say good bye to Carys, and my heart ached. It might as well have been goodbye till next week, or next term as far as she’s concerned. Although her lack of understanding may protect her from sadness, which arguably could be a good thing, it also keeps her locked in the dark. In the future, she may well wonder where he is and why he has abandoned her, yet not be able to express it.
I know that people drift in and out of our lives as often as clouds drift across the sun, bringing their light, or shadows, with them. Some leave an imprint behind as they move on. And sadness fades with time. It’s all part of the process. But sometimes, it’s really hard to watch them go.