The party we had planned for five and a half years, the planning of which had kept us going—and connected-- through the dark ages was, if I say so myself, a smash.
She was radiant in a (oy a shande!) short short black velvet dress with a very elegant beaded décolletage and high high heels. Her crown, her refulgent hair, curled and luxe.
People came from all over to share the poignancy—her KlezKanada homegirls and boys, school friends, as well as our friends, musicians, artists, professors, Yiddishists—and lawyers-- from Toronto and Boston and Syracuse and Philadelphia and DC.
Her friends spoke about how much they loved her. Aaron likened their siblinghood’s bond to a hydrogen atom or something that couldn’t be broken even by free radicals. Zachary composed a song, which he and Aaron performed.
And, in front of all her Ortho high-school peeps, who sat quietly listening for over an hour, grownup after grownup said she was their hero.
I spoke too, first about Sruli. About the hell and humiliation he went through and about how I wondered why—and how—as he watched every precious thing being taken from him, that he didn’t just jump off a bridge.
And how he was one of the lucky ones. Sruli’s friend from his law school days was there, too. This was the friend who took him in and let Sruli sleep on his couch for two weeks when the judge told him one fine afternoon that he had fifteen minutes to take his stuff from his house and get out. The friend had had the same judge. This friend, a successful tax attorney, looked out at the room. I haven’t seen my kids for six years, he said.
The Angels spoke. The musician angel whose voice broke as he talked about his own broken childhood. He had testified at the trial. The artist angel who provided the safe house on that fateful last night when her mother sent the police looking for her. The lawyer angel who brought her to court and whose passion and smarts are the only reason she is free today. I had to rescue the princess who was trapped in the tower, she said. Indeed.
And Sruli, the real Daddy from this fairy tale spoke and cried. I have never seen him like this and I hope I never will again. It was raw and ecstatic and naked and frightening. He thanked me—which I deserved, hey!—and held his daughter tight as he looked around the room at the village who helped raise his child from the dead.
Then a hora with an all-star band, really, and special sno-cone ices a la New Orleans, and then the DJ rockin’ the house. A party.
At the end of my speech I told everyone how for 6 years-- 5 lawyers, 4 judges, 3 police departments, 2 forensic psychiatrists, 2 court appointed supervisors and 1 multi-millionaire mother conspired to keep one little red-head girl’s life a nightmare until she turned 18.
I told everyone how, on that last night, she was barely one step ahead of the police and the court forensic whom her mother enlisted to forcibly commit her to a mental institution. An institution that would finally cure her of loving us.
I didn’t say how she might never have escaped that institution since the mother would have had complete control over her fate for the rest of her life (“Can you imagine what I had to do to my own daughter” she would say piteously, as her sedated and medicated daughter turned 18, and then 28, and then 38) and that’s what delusion and anger and immaturity and paranoia and a crazed sense of vengeance can do when it has millions to spend.
I told everyone that my fairy stepdaughter had run out without her shoes, her clothes, her stuff, her books, her papers.
She has no more trust fund. She has no money for college.
She has nothing. Except happiness, pride--and all of us.
And—for all of us—for our happily ever after--it is enough.