On broken hearts and broken laptops

"Let people...be satisfied with their food, and pleased with their clothing, and content with their homes..."
      - Tao Te Ching 80 (Red Pine's translation).

Many people have asked for an update on Tessie's guardianship trial, and so here it is. The judge issued a "proposed statement of decision" on 1st August, denying my petition for guardianship and granting legal and physical custody to her biological father. Our trial team pointed out to me that this was a proposed decision, that we had fifteen days in which to lodge objections to elements taken into consideration, and that there would be a thirty-day period for negotiations about logistics of transferring Tess to Port Townsend should the decision go that way.

A few days afterward, her father indicated that he was coming to take her back to his home. Tess has always been very clear on not wanting to be away from Davis, and she indicated to me that she would decline to go. Soon afterward, I received a phone call from the Yolo County Child Abduction Unit stating that I had to arrange for her transfer into his custody. After I explained the legal situation as I had been advised, and pointed out that Tess would be hard to convince, her father came down, and to cut a long and unpleasant story short, she was taken ten days ago on the Saturday afternoon by the local Police and the Child Abduction Unit, and placed in her father's custody.

We had a meeting with the judge yesterday, and she justified her support of Tessie's removal by pointing out that once I was no longer her legal guardian, her father had the right to full custody. <rant> Being a step-parent, I have no rights at all under law, and I have to recognise the legality of the court order, whilst internally railing against the refusal of the legal system to acknowledge my seven years of being an effective and beloved parent. </rant>

She is now living with him in Port Townsend, and whilst she is extremely sad and upset by both the decision and the traumatic removal from Davis, she is showing some signs of starting to settle. She and her father have been to look at a local high school that offers a program similar to the one she was due to attend in Davis, and from what I hear it's a good learning environment.

She calls me every day, and I am still encouraging her to show the same courage and strength in settling down there as she did when resisting the move. To give you an idea of this young woman's nature, she stood and argued her case with several police officers, and her father, on the Friday night before she was forced to go. When I asked her, and told her to pack some bags to head out, she resisted me as well. She has a powerful will and strong spirit, and whilst I know that it will be a tough time for her, I sincerely believe (and hope) that she will settle and thrive. After all, as I told her the night after Christine died, she is carrying her mother's torch in the world, and boy howdy, does it show. She's an astonishing young woman, and I admire her and love her to bits.

I miss Tess enormously, I miss Christine too. The house seems empty, and whilst I am very sad and worried, I carry on, as one must. Tess has told me to look after myself; she's as worried about me as I am about her. I'm doing my best. I walk every day, swim occasionally and am returning to the fold of the local Zen Buddhist group to sit zazen with them. It will be a long and rocky road for us all, but I know that we will come through, hopefully stronger for the experience.


In other news, I have gone from one-and-a-half laptops and an iPad to half a laptop and the 'Pad. I say half, because the working machine's screen is broken and I have hooked it up to an external monitor. We don't have much luck with laptops in this house - Tessie's was the first to go, following an accident with the screen. Christine's mainboard broke and it doesn't boot, and mine suffered an ultimately fatal disease of the hinge and has now joined the Doorstop Club. I'm waiting for this one to break so that I can finally justify the purchase of a new machine.

I count my blessings, thankful for over seven years with two of the greatest women I ever met, grateful for wonderful memories, Tessie's love and the joy and support I have from a loving community. Two loving communities, rather - because the noders have given as much encouragement and fillip as everyone in the Real World™. Thank you all for your love, prayers and lit candles. They help.