...i was in the kitchen making our picnic lunch. we had on our bikinis. the buckets and blankets were already in the car. another happy child was anxiously waiting a few blocks away for our wonderful day at the beach. last minute phone calls were exchanged. we were singing. we were dancing. the dust bunnies were free at last. we had peeked our heads out from under the bed, looked around and came out rockin' and rollin’. the “hard livin’, rough ridin’, little dust bunnies” were free at last. that was the name that She gave us in one of our amazing car-riding-conversations where we seemed to somehow always transmutate unbearable tragedy into comic hysterics. we were free to unbuckle our seat belts and move around... at least for a minute...
we had already survived the life we had with the “x”. the confidential bank account i so carefully filled until the moving truck came one day when he was at work to take us to what was supposed to be a better place, proved to be a fruitless effort. we were supposed to smoothly slide into a position, safe from all the threats of killing me and kicking her little “hoser”, four year old ass. i mean, how dare she be a flawlessly beautiful, charming and precocious little girl. i still don’t know if the drunken tirades or the sober threats were worse to live through. or maybe it was the constant stream of verbal abuse or waking me up at 5 am to chastise me for the untidy configuration of the cans in the pantry. or was it putting us on food rations while he ate at expensive restaurants with his friends. he ordered us to not turn on too many lights or use the heater in our fabulous house and gardens cage. i still can’t decide whether it was the hundreds of nights i spent alone, being a
household appliance, while he went out to party with his friends or....
maybe it was the day he called me an “old hag f-cking b-tch” as i was bleeding and asking him to drive me to the hospital. that day i was having a miscarriage. he decided that going out drinking with his buddy was more important so i packed up my baby girl and drove to the hospital myself, being the fertile lucky babe that i am, having gotten pregnant again after one bland, small manly donation from him in over two years since She was born. no one could have tried harder to retrieve a marriage barrelling down hill faster and faster than me. it finally reached the point of how to simply protect Her the best i could minute by minute, day by day. i had to protect Her from him. but most of all, i had to protect Her from all the venerable laws, agencies and institutions that were in place to protect Her. i had to be fair. i had to leave no stone unturned in my efforts to work things out and then in my strategies to protect Her as best i could.
the day the moving truck came catapulted us from the frying pan into the fire, a raging inferno of lawyers, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, judges, police inspectors, deputies, detectives, private investigators, evaluators, mediators, doctors, piles and piles of papers, forms and court orders. everyone had their personal agenda, fees, fears, perversions and assertions which always spun the whole growing monster in a slightly different direction. someone was always giving Her a fuzzy cute little teddy bear as they led Her away from me. i was bound and gagged at every turn. She was interviewed more than 50 times before the age of 5. no one believed Her. no one actually protected Her in the end of all that we lived through, trying to protect Her. for years we squeaked out our days and minutes on our trip thru hell. She cried and screamed and begged for hours before he would come to get Her, “please don’t make me go mommy.”
all the feverish, sleepless nights of writing to assemblymen, senators, journalists, congressmen, judges, judicial watch, justice for children, the leadership council, the f.b.i., lawyers and more lawyers, studying cases and law books and searching for anything to protect Her. we had complied with all the insane court orders. we had lived through all the countless hearings with unbelievable, incomprehensible outcomes.
we had a whole big pile of fuzzy teddy bears.
it was all over. finally. i had told him, “you’ll never knock me down or wear me out.” even the sinister lawyer he paid an obscene amount of money to was no match for this mother’s determination in the end.
we had lived through it all and we had finally emerged triumphant. “we’re going to have a great life Honey.” “we’re going to the beach and sea world and from now on we will have lots of food to eat, a nice place to live, mommy has a cool job, dance lessons for You,” (and shit, even mommy’s hair has stopped falling out). i suppose we were deliriously singing and dancing happy bunnies at that moment. i think we deserved at least a minute.
“this is bad mommy. I can see the whole inside of My face.”
She didn’t cry. She didn’t scream. She was perfectly calm. She was holding a towel to her beautiful little nine year old face.
i saw the thing that no parent should ever have to see... Her skull. Her sweet little muscles and cheek fat transformed into a flap hanging from Her face a mere quarter inch below Her eye that was hopefully and faithfully gazing at me.
i dialed 911 while wondering where all the blood was. there was almost no blood. for hours we we were transported through a stream of people and places where each in turn worried over their liabilities, monetary returns and personal agendas which stretched into hours of places which we were already vaguely familiar with. i told the 911 operator what had occurred but i didn’t know how it happened. still, two very large fire engines and an ambulance arrived at our house and about 10 very large adrenaline driven men poured into our house to look at my baby’s cheek and scaring the crap out of us.
the lead boss man launched into a lengthy oration of tricky riddles, almost completely indecipherable, regarding if a doctor says “this” he really means “that” and how his fire station had been sued by people they had tried to help. he went into analyzing the nearest hospitals and which ones would be prepared for pediatric plastic surgery and how the one we belonged to was not prepared, in his opinion. he bounced from point to point for what seemed like over an hour, none of which made sense and everything he said completely contradicted everything else that he already said. all the while the other men underlings were saying, “let’s take ‘em to the nearest hospital” or “ let’s take ‘em to the hospital they are members of”. i was wondering where the impending flood of blood was and saw that my Baby was going into shock. i said, “what would you do if it was your daughter?” wishing and hoping that he knew “something” that made sense.
we piled into the ambulance and went to the hospital that was 2 miles closer and the one that we were not members of. they took us to a room where a nurse came in and placed a very clumsy 6 or 7 hundred dollar piece of gauze on my baby’s face. the “boss” guy was all along babbling more riddles and secret codes for what “this” might mean if someone says “that” in this foreign mysterious parallel universe of emergency medical care that we had traveled to. well, we were both relieved when he finally finished his paper work and left. a doctor came in, took a quick look and left, claiming to be right back. right. right f-cking back equaled never f-cking coming back. excuse my language. do you mind? too f-cking bad if you do.
in the mean while, i had called the mother of the other child. remember the one we were taking to the beach? it just so happened that she was a nurse employed by the un-named hospital that we were at. i explained what had occurred. she said, “you’re in a time sensitive situation. they are not going to help you. they are going to let you sit there for hours and then they are going to send you to the hospital that you are members of. go out to the desk and insist that they let you know what is going on.”
we went through some more “this” and “that” stuff. everyone worried about their liabilities, paperwork and not wanting to appear as though they were refusing care to a minor. my friend came to the hospital, got my car keys and brought my car back to the hospital so i could drive my Baby to the next hospital. the ambulance crew spent more than 2 hours with us and there i was driving Her to the next hospital still wondering where all the blood was, trying to stay calm and drive safely. the people at the first hospital claimed that they had called ahead and the next hospital was prepared to receive us. amazingly enough, when we arrived, they didn’t know who the f-ck we were or who any of the doctors or people that were supposedly waiting for us were. more “this” and “that” later, we were in another room. the next procession of nurses began. the second nurse did admit that the first nurse in, at this hospital was a raving asshole (out of my Baby’s earshot of course) (well, it was true). finally the chief of emergency came in. he was very cool. real stuff started to happen and finally the pediatric plastic surgeon arrived at about 3 pm. this surgeon was unparalleled in his meticulous attention to my Daughter’s injury and feelings. we had to wait for an operating room to open up and i endured more lectures from assorted nurses about why the biggest h.m.o. in the u.s. couldn’t afford to keep enough staff and operating rooms on the weekends.
i did ask Her a couple times, being obligated to, do you want me to call your daddy? She responded with an emphatic, “no”. i knew he would only make everything much worse. finally it was after 6 pm and i had to let him know that She was in the hospital because She was scheduled to be visiting him. i told him that i would call again after She got out of the operating room. a short while later, i heard his angry voice outside of the e.r. the nurse noticing his “state” did not want to let him in, but being aware of her own particular set of “liabilities” had to finally let us know he was there. my Daughter said She didn’t want him in the room so he waited outside... for a while. he eventually came in just as i had finally calmed Her with a fantasy about the magical peacock queen that lived in the house next door to us. She had dozed off for a minute. Her eyes opened wide when he came in. very wide. even after i explained that he shouldn’t wake Her or touch Her face, he did all of that anyway along with some other really scary things that won’t be the subject of this little story.
at around 6 pm the “anesthesia-i.v.-team” came in and placed an i.v. in Her hand, telling us that the “transport team” would be in soon to transport Her to the o.r. that was now open. a couple hours later, around 8 pm, we were being told that no one knew where the transport team was and the doctor was still waiting in the o.r. around 9 pm, the plastic surgeon came down with a wheelchair to transport Her, himself. so he and i pushed the wheelchair and the i.v. contraption into the elevator and up to the o.r. thankfully, daddy x had since gone to the waiting room as he had grown tired of harassing us. so She was taken to the o.r. very peacefully. i sat outside waiting until daddy x came up and began to threaten me. his threats escalated until i made one call. within 10 minutes there were 6 people from my synagogue, including a rabbi, baby and assorted mothers, were sitting with me. we were all kind and gracious to the “x” but it sent a message to him that we weren’t f-ckin’ around with him.
so. let me recap:
11 am injury
11:10 am ambulance arrives
11:30 am first hospital
1:30 pm 2nd hospital
3 pm plastic surgeon arrives
6 pm i.v. inserted
10 pm plastic surgery
midnight, She started to wake up. the plastic surgeon showed me and the "x" some very gut wrenching extremely explicit photographs illustrating the full extent of the injury. he had put somewheres around 150 to 200 stitches in Her face. later when She asked him if Her’s was the worst injury he had ever repaired, he said that it was the 2nd to the worst. the cantor, our dearest friend, came in and sang to Her. the "x" was trying to forcibly take Her home with him but with all the people there he was rendered ineffectual. he wanted to appear reasonable to others as always. at 1 am i realized that neither of us, She or i had eaten or drank anything in all this time. She was very patient and cooperative all day and never complained once.
we arrived home at 1:30 am.
the cantor and i went into Her room and we found the 12” by 12” by 20” piece of glass that had sliced through Her face still lying fully intact on the floor. the light fixture had split in half and fallen. i found all the blood carefully dripped into the toilet. the picnic basket and sandwiches were still on the counter. i may have slept a little after i got Her to sleep. thankfully She was sufficiently drugged and feeling a bit high. for the next 3 months i was unable to sleep. every time i started to doze off i would awaken shaking and sweating with my heart racing, seeing Her face with Her skull bared.
the next day began a continuous barrage of phone calls from the "x" making assorted threats to call the police and take Her. i called the police station finally and explained the situation. they told me that if he came over that they would come get him. people from the synagogue came over all day to stay with us and help and detour the x from busting in. the house filled with flowers and She kept asking me if Her face was ruined.
about a month later, we got ready to go to the beach with the same little boy in the late afternoon. She couldn’t get “it” in the sun.
She looked at Her cut in the mirror and said, “ I like it. it’s My friend. I’m going to give it a name.”
She put on Her hat.
She named it “killer” and took it to the beach to play in the sand.