... and I've not posted the results because I had no idea how to communicate what happened. I'm not even sure at this point. Maybe it suffices to say that the justice system worked to deliver only winners. The greatest winner of all was my daughter, Dorian Leon Reid.
I cannot help but believe that everyone in that mediation process felt good about where it all ended; most of all our attorney who told me afterward that, at 21, this was the case that he entered the field of the law to serve. The judge was a gentle, reasonable, sensible man in whom I felt complete confidence from the moment we first met at the "up" elevator in the lobby at City Hall.
(How did he recognize me? We'd not met before. Maybe he'd visited my blog for background and recognized me from my photo? How else would he have known?)
On reaching the 4th floor, I was introduced to the team of defense attorneys gathered around a large conference table; the representative for the city attorney, the police officer of the car involved in the accident -- there were probably 8 men in that conference room -- but as they introduced themselves -- I saw nothing in those faces or shake of those hands to fear. It was like the experience of the testing sessions last week where we met for the first time the orthopedist and psychologist, both selected by the defense attorneys. They were pleasant and competent professionals in whom I had complete faith. In the second conference room were just the two of us, Dorian's attorney and I.
I've never been involved in legal proceedings before, but from this experience, "the Law" and "Justice" are both alive and well, and worthy of the public trust.
What was expected to take the best part of 11 hours ended up settled in less than 3. Though there was the process to be honored by two legal teams in two separate conference rooms with the judge moving between with each new factor to be considered; offers to tender; decisions to be pondered. By the end of the process Dorian's future appeared brighter than at any time in our lives. The independence and autonomy that I've spent a lifetime trying to establish for her were assured in one fell swoop! The settlement will go into a trust fund secured by a respected trust attorney who specializes in serving the developmentally disabled community, and her mother can finally exhale!
The cost was high, and Dorian will pay by having her physicality impaired in addition to her significant mental deficits to contend with for the rest of her life, but, ironically, as the result of this settlement she accomplished for herself, accidentally, what I could never have achieved in her name; not in two lifetimes! Fate is capricious, unpredictable, but in the end we can live with where it led.
... and there was a hidden bonus that occurred only after the session ended and on the long drive home. This amazing outcome had been accomplished without my involvement. A fine attorney had worked successfully on her behalf. I don't believe I uttered a word beyond those mumbled during the polite introductions. My role as " Guardian Ad Litem" all these months has consisted of occasionally reading and signing papers, delivering various materials as requested, and accompanying Dorrie for testing. The entire proceedings had shown "The World" responding to Dorian without her mother's intervention. Is this an example of interactions with "The World" after I'm no longer living? "The World" I've been so reluctant to trust with her life since the accident? It's true that she was not physically present in the room that day, but her interests surely were, and those interests were properly presented and defended by total strangers; defended objectively and fairly.
It was at this point that I became danger to life and limb on the freeway as the tears of relief -- waiting for a lifetime were now released. I began to brake in heavy commuter traffic -- and pulled off Interstate-880 at the first exit ramp and headed for the nearby waterfront where I sat for an hour absently watching a graceful windsurfer through tears of pure joy -- and being totally at peace ... .
I'm so grateful to those legal and medical professionals who deliberated in good faith. There were no winners to declare nor losers to mourn -- only competent and compassionate men responding to a regrettable situation that none of us would have wished into being.
Now maybe Dorrie's mother will go arrange for those tango lessons!