This morning I missed a call from an unknown number at 7:31a.m, getting to the phone right as the call was disconnected. Blast. I waited for whoever to leave a message, figuring it might be our prosecutor, but no voicemail showed up, so I didn't worry about the call. Half an hour later, ten minutes after the babies arrived, another call--it was the prosecutor, wanting to know where we were. UH OH! He had left me a voicemail yesterday, one I didn't get as it didn't show up until past working hours, at which time I had stopped checking for messages. KidThree called her auntie, who had wanted to come, and auntie said she would be there. We got out the little Inca heart-gouger-outer dude and put him on a chain, which KidThree then hung around her neck; she was thus guarded from a distance by the love and support of KidTwo. And the ferocity of the Incas.
Okay, no notice, but all I had to do was to call KidOne to come watch the babies, then KidThree and I could head out. UH OH AGAIN! No KidOne. And no KidOne. Just KidOne's voicemail. Paged KidOne. Called KidOne. Called KidOne's work. Called KidOne's work again, asking them to call KidOne's boyfriend to ask him where KidOne was (as legally they couldn't give me the boyfriend's phone number). Called KidTwo in Colombia and left message, asking did she have the number for KidOne's boyfriend. Called KidOne again. Again, called KidOne. No KidOne. What to do, what to do. Called FriendL. FriendL would help. FriendL is a mother and grandmother--three daughters and one granddaughter. FriendL can watch twin baby girls. FriendL just waking up. Of course she will come right over. FriendL called back--could she bring her IHSS (In-Home Support Services) provider with her. Yes, of course, the more, the merrier. FriendL got up, got dressed, got in the car, and came right over, accompanied by her IHSS provider. I pointed out the babies, "there's BabyOne, there's BabyTwo, there are their bottles, there is their Tylenol, shots yesterday, give Tylenol at ten, don't worry if you mix them up because we can tell them apart later, good-bye!"
***Remember, folks, to get a FriendL, you have to be a FriendL. When your friends call in that sort of emergency, be the friend who drops everything and comes right over. They won't forget.
Then off to court with KidThree. She couldn't eat breakfast--too many butterflies in her stomach. Me, I eat when nervous, so we stopped at McDonald's before heading into the big city. We found a parking place right next to the courthouse and could stay there as long as we wanted, despite the thirty-minute limit, courtesy of KidThree's handicapped placard. When we got to the security checkpoint at the entrance, the group in front of us was KidThree's auntie, grandmother, and two cousins, all there to provide extra family support. Thank goodness for grandmothers--Grandma looked like she had had days to prepare, she was all dressed up as if she were going to Easter services.
At the courtroom, the prosecutor came out to meet everyone, then took us down the hall a bit to explain some of the rules to KidThree. She was very cross and cranky and short with him, of course entirely due to nerves. I could tell she was about to climb out of her skin. Then back to the courtroom, where everyone else went in the regular door but KidThree and I got a deputy escort around to the back of the courtroom, so KidThree could go in the back door by the witness box and avoid having to come close to the defendants. There was a ramp set up for her to get into the witness box, which was a relief. We had been told that she would not be able to be in the witness box and I had worried about the loss of that little bit of a psychological safety zone. The deputy helped me get her situated in the box, then a quick hug and kiss for luck and I went to sit with Auntie and Grandma.
Then it all started. The prosecutor started asking my beloved girl questions, which she answered in a teeny tiny little voice that no one could hear. Oh, that hurt my heart. I knew how frightened she was, and could tell by her facial expressions that she was working hard not to cry. Several times the prosecutor and even the judge had to tell her to speak up, but gradually her voice got louder and clearer as she relaxed a bit and was able to answer the questions more comfortably. Over the next two hours, the prosecutor led her through that fatal afternoon, getting to the point where shots were fired, then we broke for lunch. After many, many instructions to her auntie and grandmother ("Auntie, remember, if you see a gun, you throw your body in front of KidThree!"), I left to go home to relieve FriendL--she had rescheduled her morning doctor's appointment to the afternoon--and take care of the babies for a while before heading back to pick up KidThree. I gave BabyOne her bottle (BabyTwo had just had hers with FriendL), then picked up both babies and rocked them for twenty minutes or so. Rocking an armload of babies is better than any tranquilizer; I could feel my tension easing as we rocked.
After that peaceful interlude, I loaded up the car with the babies and their stroller, then headed back to the city to pick up KidThree. Going through security was a piece of cake--the deputy who let me around the barriers with the stroller told me she was a grandmother and she would be happy to babysit the babies while I went upstairs. (I took the babies upstairs anyway.) I was out in the hall for about ten minutes while things wrapped up in the courtroom. During that time, the jury from the courtroom next door filed out, with all the men heading down the hall towards the elevator and all the women making a beeline for me with my armful of babies. Biology is a powerful force!
I chatted with a couple of the women for a few minutes, then KidThree's courtroom emptied, with KidThree coming out from around the back of the building. I went to hand her one of the babies, but hadn't allowed for Auntie's years of experience; Auntie had that baby in her arms before KidThree could even get her arms into position! Grandma told me that one of her rings had slipped off her finger while they were at lunch; when she picked it up, she then put it on one of KidThree's fingers for luck. KidThree is still wearing it. We all went back to our car in a group, where I loaded up KidThree and the babies, learning with considerable relief that the wheelchair and the stroller would both fit behind the back seat. I hadn't been sure. It was a tight squeeze, but the hatchback could close and that was all that mattered.
Tomorrow we go back at one-thirty, as KidThree has a doctor's appointment in the morning.
KidOne called to apologize for missing my calls--her phone had died right after she got to class. She is all lined up to watch the babies tomorrow afternoon. Then FriendL called for her update, and I called my dad to report to them, and finally FriendJ called for her report. FriendJ may come to court for the first little bit tomorrow to provide some additional support. FriendJ hadn't come today, as KidThree was afraid she would be overwhelmed if too many people came with her, so FriendJ had instead arranged a prayer circle when KidThree testified; I had called her when we got to court and she got her group underway. KidThree now feels comfortable enough that she can have FriendJ provide her support in person.
KidThree was seriously buzzed on adrenaline, telling me everything that happened in the short afternoon session and how everything felt during the morning session; she was very proud of herself for being able to testify with ease once she got comfortable.
A funny thing happened during the morning session: At one point, KidThree had to stop to blow her nose. After she gave it a final wipe, she leaned over the front of the witness box to the court reporter (seated about six feet in front of her) and whispered seriously, "I don't have boogers or anything on it?" The court reporter whispered back just as seriously, "no!" It was a lovely moment of female bonding, an exchange which everyone in the courtroom could hear and which thus caused a giggle to ripple through the crowd.