Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Redhead Badge of Courage

I’m almost afraid to say it—she’s here. After five and a half years of waiting and hoping and crying and screaming and paying and praying, she is doing her science homework on our dining room table.

At the end she did it herself, really—escaped by a single night her being khopped, grabbed and committed to an institution that would “cure” her of loving us.

She knows how close she came, and how far she came—from that 12-year-old who would scream Daddy Daddy in agony as he was threatened and prevented from seeing or even speaking to her-- to a courageous young woman who is now liberated and free from fear.

There were angels who helped her—a brilliant and beautiful family friend who took her in that last crazy night and a young saintly matrimonial lawyer who fought passionately against a teeth-gnashing monster in Family Court.

And there is a legal document out there called an Order of Protection. I am ashamed and sad that our kids even know what that is.

I have to let go of this rage and, as the shrinks say, move on. Yes it took up the entire first part of my new life with Sruli and yes it took up our entire nest egg and yes it took its toll on our children and our families and our music and our love and even our dogs but it’s over and the wicked witch is, legally anyway, dead.

Our happy ending includes eight suitcases overflowing with teenage girl belongings overflowing my living room. My sons are bemused and fascinated—they have never seen so many “products”—for hair, skin, eyes, lips, nails—or so many sweaters or so many shoes.

Sruli and I both tuck her in—it’s a surreal moment. She says “it’s so nice to be in a place where everyone loves me.” We look at each other and smile on the outside and fume on the inside, then shrug and hug and kiss.

She seems to be past the poison and looking only forward. College looms, life looms but happily she seems to have chosen a blessed career path that will do good in the world.

The boys of the world have taken notice as well. Sruli is kvelling.

I will try to convince her to write about what happened to her— the lies and the bizarre reality that is the courtroom and the incompetent judges and the new, replacement judges who admitted that although the verdict was wrong they wouldn’t do anything and the seedy greedy lawyers who stoked an angry and obviously unbalanced, vengeful, cruel mother—who happens to be a multi-millionaire—and most of all the New York Divorce Inferno which includes “supervisors,” “forensics,” “law guardians,” and “psychiatric experts,” who screwed a little redhead girl out of a father and out of a normal life.

Maybe she will write about it to help herself or other kids and maybe it will be a warning to divorcing parents everywhere but right now, as she says—“I’m so happy just to sit quietly and eat Cheerios with you.”

Five and a half years. When she officially turns 18 we are going to throw a kick-ass party for her and you are all invited and you should wear your happiest outfits and your most waterproof mascara.

I feel like a new Mom. And I can’t stop crying.


  1. I love you. I'm so happy for you. This is the best news ever.

  2. I know Ella from many years ago and I see nothing less than someone who fights for what is right and just. I am proud to say I know her not as a lawyer but as a friend who is willing to put her life aside to make someone else's better no matter how long it takes. I can understand your pain, Lisa and I know it was not easy by any means. But as someone who was no longer being mentally abused but physically abused by her father after her mother died at the age of 15, I had no one fighting for me. The reality of that has been a life long struggle. Even though your struggle was arduous and torturous, please know you have given a special gift to your daughter that can never be taken away. That gift of being wanted and worth fighting for will ALWAYS be a special one she will carry with her forever! And it will give her the strength to climb her own mountains no matter how high. Now 41 my 15 year old ghost thanks you for saving her, so she won't know my pain. For that you should be so proud!

  3. Thank you all so much for your comments on FB and email. You shared in all of this, a sheynem, hartzign dank.

  4. lisa! How are you doing? I have no email address for you but would love to be in touch. I went to a Mets game today to watch my friend in the pre-game show and you and your family were there performing too! You were absolutely incredible and it really made me so happy to see all of you and hear your beautiful music.
    If we don't speak before then have a shana tovah to you sruli and your wonderful family!
    much love