Category Archives: The Last Chapter

A reflective narrative of my lest few months with Timile and the process regaining custody of Cydney.

The Last Chapter: Back to Court Pt. 1

In May, I spoke about my last trip to court with Timile’s parents and our custody/visitation hearing in Virginia.  In the fourth paragraph, I mentioned that Cydney’s grandparents had dropped their filing for custody and there were negotiations that had to take place that I was not yet at liberty to talk about.  Well, now I can.

Since there was no way constitutionally that Timile’s parents could gain legal custody of Cydney and they dropped that, Timile’s father, his lawyer, my lawyer, and I were negotiating visitation.  Like many states, Virginia’s laws indicate that grandparents do not have rights.  However, if a parent is deceased a judge will determine whether or not they will grant visitation rights to grandparents contingent on their relationship with the child.  At the time, I was going for the gusto: NO visitation.  It wasn’t that I was trying to keep Cydney away from them; I just wanted her grandparents to have to work with me to see her and not be able to get by under some legal technicality.  To me, that’s bullshit.  My lawyer explained to me that the judge is going to grant them visitation because Cydney lived with them for five months, they will also grant it because she needs to know her mother’s side of the family.  My response to my lawyer was “I have a relationship with just about all of Timile’s family.  Just not them.”  He said “Look, you can either negotiate the terms or the judge will do it for you.  Reluctantly, I said okay and began to negotiate.

The terms that were hammered out were that Cydney’s grandparents get visitation every other Thanksgiving, December 26th-January 5th until she is enrolled in school and needs to be back earlier, a week in the spring, and four weeks in the summer with the summer of 2012 being split into two-two week blocks.  Timile’s father asked in front of the judge if they could have Cydney until after January 4th, since that is Timile’s birthday.  I wanted her back January 2nd because a week is more than reasonable and they’re just grandparents.  I thought that was the dumbest shit ever.  Why on earth would they want to keep a child to celebrate their dead mother’s birthday who won’t be young enough to know what that day even means?  Stupid.

I thought the whole thing was dumb. The fact that I am negotiating visitation with and for Timile’s grandparents in a court like I was married to, conceived Cydney, and divorcing them from a standpoint of logic makes no sense.  It still doesn’t.  Why? Because they’re grandparents.  If it were my parents in court I’d feel the same way.  There’s no emotional bias to this.  It’s just as a parent and the only parent, I think that I should have all say so in who my child is with and around.  I told my lawyer I think this is incredibly stupid.  He told me this: “In my experience this goes one of two ways.  Either one party may start trying to comply but eventually won’t do it anymore or both parties work it out and its no longer needed.”  I gave him a look and said “I don’t know with these people.”  He then whispered in my ear “If you don’t like the terms of this agreement, then get it amended in New York.”

Lightbulb!  My lawyer planted the right seed in my head at the right time.  That’s when I completely gave in and just gave them whatever day they wanted.  I knew at one point or another, I was getting visitation amended in New York.  Fuck Virginia and it’s silly commonwealth laws. I’m going to home where people don’t play these silly games.

Two days later, I received a phone call from someone in my phone named “Daddy” with a 757 area code attached to it.  I was confused because I’m not in the business of calling anyone daddy unless they are a long-legged spider in which their legs still move when you peel them off.  Realizing who was calling, I thought to myself “I thought no one knew how to contact me!”  I laughed in my head and picked up the phone.  Timile’s father was asking if they could take Cydney down with them for a family reunion in Atlanta at one point during the summer.  He said I could come along as well if I would like to.  He asked the right way and then said that he’d rather do this the cordial/non-legal way but if I wanted him to he could do it through the courts with paperwork.  I told him I’d get back to him and let him know.

The truth is I forgot.  Hell no I wasn’t going to no family reunion with them and I still was skeptical as all hell with the idea of Cydney’s grandparents going to Atlanta with her and who knows if they’ll return.  It wasn’t paranoia.  It was being a good parent.

He called me again on Christmas Day wishing Cydney a Merry Christmas, that they had gifts that they wanted to send or deliver in person and etc.  I was fine with that.  I said just let me know when is a good time.  I sent them Cydney’s picture with Santa Claus so that they would have it before Christmas as well.  In March, he called again and said that they had been going through some health related issues is why they haven’t visited yet but they still had stuff for Cydney.  I even let him speak to Cydney on the phone.  She didn’t know who she was talking to, but I still was being nice.  That was the last I heard from him.

On August 10 this year, my phone vibrated with a text message.  From the top of the screen I could what the text said and I saw something about Satan in it.  I thought it was an inspirational text message saying something along the lines of “Don’t let Satan hold you back or something.”  I looked at the text message and the text was from someone I had named Satan in my phone.  I laughed out loud when I remembered that while living in Virginia I saved Timile’s mother’s phone number as Satan.  Yeah that may be harsh; but that’s how I felt.  I have no regrets about that and I still think it’s kinda funny.  Anywho, she said that they loved and missed Cydney, they still had stuff for her they wanted to give her and that she would call me later to see about coming up to visit or Cydney coming down there.  The first thought was “Yall can come here!”  I didn’t respond because I didn’t want to do so hastily and was still holding onto my strategic ace in the hole of getting the visitation agreement amended in New York.

I waited until she would send another call or text saying when they would like to come up or schedule a visit.  I didn’t take any action until she texted me again in September 19th saying that they are coming to get Cydney.  Not asking-but coming.  That didn’t sit well with me at all.  Sh said they would the day after Christmas and that if I’m not going to be home please make sure someone is home.  I really didn’t appreciate that.  That’s not love, that’s treating Cydney like a package.  Hell. No.  It took everything in me to not respond saying “You must be smoking crack if you think I’m just letting my daughter leave with someone she doesn’t even know anymore.”  That would be bad parenting.

It had been more than a year and a half, so no was a good time to file to amend this agreement.  I knew I could really get my way now.

Yesterday we went to court.  I will discuss that tomorrow.

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Stressed Out

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I hate A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Beats, Rhymes, and Life.’   I don’t hate it like most other people do.  It’s not because this album was a departure from what made Tribe’s first three albums classic and ultimately the beginning of the end for them.  I hate it because it reminds me of where I was when I listened to it heavily.  Maybe I do hate it because it does remind me of the beginning of the end.  November 2011, I listened to this album a lot.  I had just moved to Virginia with my family because it was what Timile wanted.  The album was dark, and that’s what my life was at the time: dark.  Timile’s family had stressed me out to no end.  Every conversation with Timile’s mother raised my blood pressure.  I’ll never forget the look in her eyes when she told me that I needed to leave if they found out Timile was dying so that the family could pray over her-like I wasn’t Timile’s family when they weren’t acting like it.

‘Stressed Out’ was soothing music to me.  Whenever I hear that song, I think of driving on I-64.  Sitting in traffic in the tunnel headed back from Norfolk to my apartment in Newport News coming from an interview where the agency loved me and all but guaranteed me placement as an accountant or mortgage consulting as soon as they contacted my references.  I think about how every time I drove down Jefferson Ave towards the 7Eleven on J Clyde Morris where I would eat my one meal of the day: two taquitos for $2.22 and a Coke.  About a block or two away from my apartment, there was a graveyard on my right when I’d be driving north.  Whenever I passed it, I thought about burying Timile; and that in my heart I knew one day I was going to have to do that sooner than later.

I’d done everything I could for my family.  I made things happen when we lived in Long Island and Buffalo.  None of that mattered in Virginia.  I slept on a green leather couch in a silent apartment.  If I wasn’t at Startbucks using my computer during the day, I was sitting in the apartment on the same couch I slept on watching movies I had on my hard drive or Netflix from my phone smoking weed that was Timile’s that we used for her to help her eat when we lived in Buffalo.  I would be waiting  around for the thirty minutes I could see Timile at the hospital since I was in hiding and the hour or two I would spend with Cydney at her Grandparents’ house in Hampton with eyes on me looking at me like that child wasn’t mine.  The only other thing I had to do on a daily basis was talk to my mother and be there for her while she was undergoing her first rounds of chemo.

When I think about the time in Virginia, I don’t think about Timile or Cydney much.  I think about me.  I think about what I went through.  Timile wasn’t even fighting for her life there; she was spending her last days as painless as possible hooked up to a morphine drip that she could press for as much medication as needed.  Cydney was just being an infant absorbing all that was around her.

Nowadays, it’s all fleeting thoughts.  I think about that time as the beginning of my transformation into becoming who I am now.  Time heals all wounds and while the scars have disappeared, I still go there from time to time.  I liken it to a veteran who has come back home from war and has assimilated back into civilization; but sudden loud noises make them jump and remind them of a bomb going off.  The sound can take them right back to a moment when they were on the front lines and something traumatic happened.  Once the thoughts come, they take a long time to shake off.  PTSD is real.  I’ve become suspicious of everyone and their motives that I allow in my life and just about assume the worst from even the smallest of things.

I’m one to keep things lighthearted.  I can tell a joke or let off a witty quip no matter the circumstances.  Behind the resilient smile, smirk, or laugh is a young man who still has a darkness that is reminded that these thoughts will be with me in some way or another forever.  For the most part, when I hear ‘Stressed Out,’ it’s in the car with me driving Cydney and my nephew somewhere.  While they may say something funny and I may sing along with a song that I still like a lot; I still see these moments for a couple of seconds.

***Cydney Quotables will be posted on Monday… I had to post this because this is what was on my mind***

The [Second to] Last Chapter: Three Years Ago

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I looked at Cydney today and thought to myself “Wow, you’ve changed quickly.” I went through my phone and looked at pictures of her in June 2011 and 2012. My next thought was “Holy shit, you’ve existed for three years now.” I remembered exactly what was going on three years ago to the date.

In June of 2010 Timile nor I knew about Cydney, but she as there. We were going through some other things. We didn’t get along too well at the time and while keeping the faith internally everything on the outside looked like our time together was coming to an end. There was a time in April where Timile had been so mad that she stayed at her friend’s house for five days. I thought to myself, “One night is cool, but you’re bugging and you’ll see that very soon.” Shortly after, her and the friend she was staying with had a falling out. In my head I thought “I knew it.” but people hate when you’re right a lot so I didn’t say it.

Any who, late June Timile got a phone call from her mother’s doctor. The doctor had informed her that while in the hospital her mother would not sign a form of resuscitation had she gone into any kind of arrest. Timile saw this as something very serious. She hadn’t seen her mother in over a year since she moved back to Atlanta from Virginia and when she went back to get the rest of her things her mother called the cops on her and her best friend for trespassing. After the ordeal with the police, they said that she could come back and get her things if her mother left them outside and Timile gave back the key. Her mother left bags of nothing that was trash outside. Think I’m exaggerating? I have the pictures to prove it.

Months after that ordeal (if that was April 2009 no one contacted her until Thanksgiving) her parents tried to reconnect with Timile. Timile would not visit and I did not blame her for ever wanting to return to that house. So there was a standstill on their relationship. So that June when Timile got the phone call she told her job she had to go because it was an emergency.  The administration at the daycare that she worked for tended to make things hell for her so they told her that her and another teacher in the room had to “work it out” because the other teacher was taking that day off because of her wedding.  Timile and the other girl thought that wasn’t right because they could have easily put two other teachers in the room for a couple of days.  Timile left anyway because once again, she had an emergency on her hand.

We left immediately to drive to Virginia.  I drove the whole way.  Timile was getting more and more anxious the closer we got to the Seven Cities.  We were going to stay at her godmother’s in Chesapeake because her mother was at the hospital in nearby Portsmouth not to mention that her godmother was always supportive and understanding of Timile and really related because she was banished by Timile’s mother as well.  We got there at night.  The next morning we traded cars with one of her best friends because she had a Virginia license plate and the hospital was on a Naval Base so it would have made parking just a little easier.  When we got there, Timile’s mother was happy to see her.  At first, her mother’s blood pressure was 160/120.  Within an hour, it dropped to 135/100.  Timile watched movies with her mother, painted her nails, and combed her hair.

On the way backto her best friends’ house from the hospital we talked about how quickly her mother was recovering.  She talked to her about everything that was going on with her mother.  Her friends’ mom was well aware of how Timile’s mother was because they used to live right behind Timile.  Timile said that she knew what the whole trip was about: her mother was throwing a tantrum and was gambling on her life to force Timile to come back without having to talk about what had happened over the last year.  Her mother had done it before and the pattern that her immediate family displayed was after traumatic events (Usually at her emotional expense), they would pretend that nothing ever happened, talk about it, or an apology.  She hated that.  While she felt that her mother was “On that bullshit,” she came and did what she had to do for her family like she had done since she was eleven years old.  Timile was tired of having to do that and you could hear it in how she talked about her mother.  If Timile’s family is reading this, understand I have no reason to lie.  I knew her better than anyone.  I knew all of her most intimate thoughts and what I say comes straight out of the horse’s mouth.

At night, she would have long talks with Sydney.   She told me later that they talked about her mother and how everything she had been through was stressing her out in these long vent sessions.  I’m sure somehow I came up since I was the bane of her existence aka what she was taking out all of her frustrations on.  Sydney was a big supporter of me and still is.  She knew I was right for her even when Timile wouldn’t see it and would remind her of so.

We went to the hospital one more full day. Timile could only take so much.  Timile’s mother was rapidly showing signs of improvement just from Timile’s being there.  Five days after we left, not only had her mother signed the forms, but she was back home.  The doctor told her and thanked her for coming.

On the way back to Atlanta, we stopped at a yard sale we saw and bought a slew of VHS’ because they were $.50 each.  While on I-85 I called my father because I knew he had a show in Charlotte.  My father always liked Timile and liked to see her.  I went to the show, but Timile wasn’t feeling too well and opted to stay at the hotel and get some rest.  We thought it was because she had been under a lot of stress and as soon as she had a moment to let it all sink in she was tired.

What we didn’t know at the time was that Timile was three weeks pregnant.  While going through all of that, Cydney was right there the whole time.  Man time flies.  The little thing we didn’t know existed at the time is now two and puts stickers all over her face saying she’s a lion all the while roaring through JC Penny.

5/21/12: The Final Court Date

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On the bus leaving Hampton for the last time

May 21 had been marked off on my mental calendar for almost three months. I always knew I was getting my daughter back so I was never worried about that. After all that I’d been through since between the pregnancy, cancer, and moving around; this chapter could finally close and Timile could rest in peace. I didn’t want to go back to Virginia nor could I wait to get on the bus to finally be done with all of this unnecessary drama.

I left for Virginia the night of the 2oth. Greyhound messed up royally stating that my bus was leaving for Hapmton from 34th and 8th in Manhattan. After waiting around for three hours and a phone call to my lawyer telling him I may not make it to court due to my bus I called up Greyhound and they told me that the bus was leaving from the Port Authority Bus Terminal which was a train stop away. Not wanting to risk missing the last bus waiting for the train, I walked the eight blocks. When I got there, all I could think about was May 2007, when I met Timile there because she took the bus from Hampton to New York. I still think about that every time I’m at the Port Authority. I didn’t sleep the whole eight hours. I was up thinking about my last two years: moving from Atlanta, to New York, to Buffalo, to Virginia, back to New York all in fourteen months; the nights on that couch in our quiet apartment in Newport News that Timile never saw and everything. I didn’t go over my plans for court because I didn’t feel like I needed to.

I got in around 6 AM. One of Timile’s best friends and her boyfriend picked me up. I stayed at her boyfriend’s house until it was time to go to court a few hours later. For once, I actually had a suit with me so I ironed my suit and got ready. While doing so, we all talked about how things had been going, reflected on Timile a little bit, and then we left.

When I got to the courthouse, only Timile’s father was there. As opposed to the arrogant and smug demeanor he had before, he said hello and asked how Cydney was doing. I responded by saying “She’s fine. She’s talking,” and kept it moving. When we got in front of the judge, Timile’s parents and lawyer had dropped their request for custody because they could and would have never won that. The rest of the hearing was a negotiation in which I cannot go into detail about just yet. We were in front of the judge for about a half hour and that was it. I was able to walk out of court knowing that this was over. No more judges, lawyers, or court.

When I rode back to where I was staying we talked about all that went on in court and right as I was dropped back off at the bus station, we said goodbye. They said they understood me not wanting to come back to Virginia for a long time if not at all. That they were right about. I hated Hampton, Virginia. I liked it as a place, but only once had I been there and it not be some drama so I was more than okay with the idea of not coming back. I still hate the idea of setting foot in Virginia. When I’m visiting friends in the DC Metro area, I get uncomfortable about going to Fairfax county and seeing the signs that say “Welcome To Virginia.” One day, I will return with Cydney. At this point in life, the only reason to do so is to finally visit Timile’s grave site and to eat at Tommy’s on Mercury Boulevard.

When the bus pulled out, I took pictures of Hampton Colosseum and in my head I said goodbye to Timile because her body rests there. I wasn’t just saying goodbye to Hampton, though. I really was saying goodbye to Timile coming to grips with her being gone and beginning to move on with Cydney and my life. I thought about how I would continue to raise her how we had planned and in my mind said “I will do right by her and you.”

By midnight, I was back in New York. It was figuratively and literally a new day. It was May 22; six months has passed since I turned twenty-six and felt like it was an appropriate turning point for the second half of my year. A year later, I have transformed a lot. I am still doing my best with Cydney. I have accepted being single, began to date again not just to do so but if it came up, really able to have feelings for someone else and all. And I began telling my story to you guys out there which has been both cathartic and solidified my purpose in helping others along the way. While some things are up in the air, the one thing that I began to have since leaving Virginia that last time was peace.

April 2011

At this time, Timile was settled into Buffalo. I was adjusting, but I wasn’t there just yet. I was making trips to New York every other week to go back and get more of our things. I didn’t know anyone in Buffalo and I would look forward to that drive through the mountains headed downstate.

By this time, Timile had started an aggressive chemotherapy. She would do chemo at Roswell Park and would take one home with her for five days every three weeks. With that first round, Timile’s best friends came up from Virginia to visit. They got a chance to see Timile and Cydney when things were still fairly normal.

Timile was still up and about. She wasn’t super active with Cydney but she would do what she could. Cydney was still in the up all night phase and I was the one up with her. When the morning came around, I would be the one getting up with her and doing the taking care of Cydney. My days were 21 hours long and 12 of them were with Cydney with my two hours off being during her afternoon nap. I’d drive around Buffalo trying to learn my way around. I would drive along Lake Erie, park, and just look out at the frozen lake trying not to think about everything that’s going on. Around that time of day someone would always call me and I’d just vent and talk about some of everything that would be a welcomed distraction.

Timile’s grandmother wanted Timile and Cydney to herself so she would fight me on taking care of my family. She’s quite a worrier and freaked out over little things. Timile wanted me around for comfort at appointments and she knew how her grandmother was and the last thing she needed was someone being internationally emotional around her.

After one one way fight, I just let Timile’s grandmother take her to her first checkup with the oncologist. I got a phone call that she was being admitted for observation. When I gor up there that evening, the oncologist pulled me aside and we talked. He told me that Timile’s grandmother told him how she was responding to chemo and that she was laying around and wasn’t responding well to it. He then said that he would put Timile on hospice care and make her comfortable. I interrupted him before he could say comfortable and told him whatever he was told was false. Timile’s grandmother had no idea what was going on because she was avoiding me. Timile was in fact up and about, would stand holding Cydney, and entertained company a few days prior to that. He said “Oh, that paints a different picture.” Needless to say, Timile’s grandmother v was not allowed to take Timile to any more appointments. That almost got really bad.

The next day or so I went back to New York to get more of our things and try to complete this album I was getting paid to produce. I was there for four days and that Friday night, Timile called me in tears. I asked what was wrong. She was silent and sobbing. I just waited on the other side for her to get her thoughts together. “My hair is falling out.” Man. That did something to me on the inside. I knew it was going to happen and do did she. But when it happened it made tge cancer thing even more real. I don’t know if I have the words to describe how my heart sunk and the feeling of sadness that came over me. That was the last time I went to New York. Whatever I had to do in New York was not important. Being there was no matter what it did to me mentally and emotionally.

Custody

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The photo I put up on Facebook the minute we left court

We woke up at 7AM. Cydney woke up singing patty cake. I smiled big because I woke up with my little girl next to me. My mother, Cydney, and I had a quick breakfast at the Waffle House on Mercury Boulevard but I wasn’t really hungry. I was going over my gamelan for court. I ate some eggs and couldn’t think of anything but sitting in a Waffle House by Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News in November stressed out about Timile, Cydney, and the wall between us created by Timile’s parents that had me to the point of numb fingertips and couldn’t eat what was in front of me. I couldn’t stop thinking about the graveyard I would pass by in our apartment in Newport News that Timile nor Cydney ever saw that I would get chills passing by knowing in my heart Timile was probably going to die soon. I even played in my mind us living in Buffalo sleeping on the box spring of a twin bed with yoga mats and couch cushions as a mattress. I’d come a long way from where we’d been in that time. However, I let those moments subside because I still had work to do.

I made a mistake yesterday. Court began at 8:30 AM. I got there just in time and since my mother was moving slowly due to just having surgery, I brought Cydney into the courtroom with me. The first thing the judge said was “This is the Cydney that all of the fighting is about!” with a smile on her face. I just smiled back. Then the proceedings began. As the father I was asked questions about my profession, where I was staying, and if I had everything set up for Cydney in place. My answers were all yes and satisfactory. I was even prepared to show pictures if need be.

Next, it was Timile’s parents turn to speak. Their lawyer stated that since Cydney was en utero when her mother had cancer that Cydney was undergoing hematosis tests that I had put the family in a bind since they were not able to continue based on my not granting them temporary legal custody. Fun fact: the lawyer was not supposed to bring that up since the judge said that any decision I made in March could not be used against me in court. Anyway, not knowing what hematosis was my lawyer explained that its a regular blood test that can be done anywhere. That ended that premise.

While the judge was asking Timile’s parents questions my lawyer looked at them then turned to me and said “I recognize her! I had a trespassing case against her!” I said “Yes, against her daughter’s best friend nearly two years ago. That’s how I got your number and we met in July 2010.” It all came back to him and he pretty much said Timile’s mother is crazy. Now, Timile’s mother had pressed trespassing charges against Timile’s best friend when they came to get the rest of Timile’s things in April 2010. They couldn’t press charges on Timile because she was a resident there within 90 days. It was a bogus suit in which I was told there was lots of lying in court by the family. The charges were dropped.

After ten minutes the judge came with a decision stating that “The only way I could relinquish custody from. Chad Milner is if I see that he is unfit. Since I do not, I must follow the law.” Game, set, MATCH. I waltzed out of the courtroom to my mother who was holding Cydney and said “We out!” She looked at me like “Who?” I said “The three of us!” We briefly consorted with Cydney and my lawyer about having to come back in May. As we were talking I watched Timile’s parents walk slowly out of court looking defeated and talking to their lawyer on the side. I wanted to say something and even gloat a little deep down but there was nothing that neededto be said. I had Cydney legally and it would be damn hard to get her back. That was the last time they saw Cydney.

We left the couthouse elated and in praise. I took the picture at the top of the post with the caption “Guess who’s bizzack? (Cues Scarface instrumental)” and immediately posted it to Facebook. No one knew I was in Virginia at all. The responses were of happiness on the picture and in my inbox of people saying they were in tears, prayers were answered, and happiness.

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The picture I took as soon as we hit Brooklyn

The ride back seemed quick. We went to go see all of my family in Queens so that everyone could see Cydney.

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The picture my father took in hus studio when we got there

Truthfully, I wasn’t supposed to win this. Timile’s parents had plans that had I not shown up at the right time, planned myself, had help from others, and the prayers of friends, family, and strangers this wouldn’t have happened. I like to think that in all of my circumstances I’m a lucky guy but no. I just have good people around me who have my back. Forever resumed that morning and in spite of lots of hiccups and stress life is good!

Reunited

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At Target In Virginia Our First Day Back Together

April 3, 2012. Everything was in place, Cydney’s room was set up, my mom was recovering from surgery so it was time to go get my girl. We left New York at midnight. My mom and I prayed for a safe travel and things to go smooth.

We got to the Hampton Sheriff’s department at 7:56 AM. Prayed one more time and then I called my lawyer. I told him what we were going to do and he said I had every right to and if there were any problems to call him. We went in to tell the sheriff what was going on because the last time there were some issues but at least there was a record that we went by there first since in the commonwealth they do not get involved with civil disputes.

The head sheriff came out and said that I should just wait the six weeks until our May 21 court date. We weren’t hearing that. I told them if there was an issue he could speak to my lawyer to explain my rights and pretty much his opinion didn’t matter. He called my lawyer who confirmed and I then gave him Cydney’s lawyer’s number and to speak to her. She said she was on the way to the court to look up the information and decide how this would be handled. She came out of the courthouse and said that she scheduled an impromptu hearing for temporary custody until May 21. She contacted Timile’s parents to let them know because they had no idea I was in Hampton.

Our lawyers couldn’t make that day because of other obligations so the hearing was set for 8 AM the next morning. She also said that since I haven’t seen my daughter in five months for me to have visitation until our hearing. I requested we meet in front of the sheriff’s at 3 PM because Timile’s parents would behave there. We got there and shortly after they pulled up.

They told us very little about Cydney because naturally Timile’s mother was pissed because she’s dramatic and emotional. Whatever. Cydney was in my arms. She looked at me for a while like she didn’t recognize me but I looked familiar. She did the same to my mother but yet she was comfortable. She didn’t turn to them to say bye or anything because she was okay with me. I was all smiles as soon as they drove off. That’s all I wanted. I just kept looking at her thinking wow she got big and looked different from the little girl I last saw.

We went to Burlington because once again I didn’t have any attire to wear to court. We then went to Target to get Cydney some toys and that was great. All I could do was keep looking at my daughter thinking I’m glad she’s back. I had no intentions of giving her back. Court was just going to be a technicality. We then went to Virginia Beach to meet up with Timile’s cousin who had been very helpful to me getting my girl back. We had a little barbeque and he was happy for me as well. Cydney was apprehensive to going to anyone else because she didn’t recognize them. That’s how I knew when she saw me earlier she remembered me.

After that we headed back to our hotel, said our prayers and went to sleep to get ready for the next day. I know Timile was looking down happy because she would have wanted this and me to fight to the death to get her back. She was on my mind all that night. Even then, I didn’t so much as miss her but I felt her presence and the three of us were a family again.

This morning, I gave Cydney a kiss on the cheek while she’s asleep thinking how glad I am she’s here, how she’ll never know what I went through to get her back, and how thankful she won’t remember any of this.

Getting Ready For Cydney’s Arrival

By the end of March, I hired a lawyer and was getting ready for my custody hearing May 21. While I did hire one gor insurance purposes, he didn’t give me any information I hadn’t figured out on my own. I knew I would get Cydney back because since it had been established that I was her father, constitutionally no one could do anything unless I relinquished my rights.

Since Cydney was only physically in hee grandparents’ custody, I knew that I could go down to Virginia and get her whenever I felt like it. I had gone five months without so much as seeing a picture of her. Around that time, my sister had done some snooping and she found two pictures of her. My heart sunk when I saw them because she looked very different from the eight month old I was forced to leave behind. I showed them to everyone in my family. My father isn’t one to show emotion but when you look really close you can see how he really feels. His response was a pause and then said “She needs to be up here soon.” I knew he couldn’t take it.

But he was right, my mother was having surgery pretty soon and after she was good to go we were going to go and get her. It was time to shop. My mother and I bought a wardrobe, high chair, toys, snd even stuff for Easter because we knew she would be back by then. My aunt bought her an Easter outfit to match my little cousin Tyler also. Things still had me feeling under extreme unrest but I knew everything would eventually be alright. I was getting my little girl back in less than a week and no one knew it.

The First Few Days In Buffalo

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Cydney and I right before our flight

After our trying out Memorial Sloan-Kettering for Timile’s treatments, we decided to make the move to Buffalo. Timile preferred to be around her family so we did it. I dropped everything I was doing and made the move. I was in the middle of producing an album for a band and just had to say “Sorry guys.”

The night before our flight was a long one. I had to pack our lives into six suitcases (including cans of meal supplements, a pole, and other medical supplies for Timile’s feeding tube), and a wheelchair. It was a short flight and Cydney slept the whole time.  We got there and it was gray and real glum. It looked exactly as I felt. Buffalo looked like Newport News, Virginia that just got left alone as a child. We got to the house and I passed out for hours on a couch with about nine people in there having all kinds of conversation.

The second day there was March 23 and it snowed five inches. I was done. DONE! I had to take a train back to New York the next day so that I could drive the car back up with the rest of our belongings. I couldn’t wait because I already hated Buffalo. I got to New York and just slept. Well, the other thing I did was coordinate a surprise baby shower for Timile.

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One of the only pictures that exist of the three of us

After that day and a half I couldn’t wait to get back to my family. I got into the city limits and felt the excitement you have when you’re in a long distance relationship and you see someone for the first time in a long time. The shower went great and I’m glad we had that experience. Her whole family being around gave her that feeling she wanted by moving there. They gave Timile a nice new haircut and all.

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Everyone knew Timile with very long hair but no one saw this

We also went to see the oncologist for the first time. He told us that Timile’s cancer had spread all the way up to her neck that she had a 20% chance of complete remission. Disheartening numbers but I felt that one in five was doable for us. Timile got really upset then and I just told her we would be alright and we were lucky enough to be that 20%. She smiled. The oncologist also said that since she was young she could take an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. Had she been thirty they would have just made her “comfortable” which means hospice and I wasn’t here for that.

With that said it was time to get busy. If that was a Thursday, Monday chemo was starting.

My Impromptu Court Hearing In Virginia

So, last week I wrote about how the court appointed DNA test proved that Cydney was in fact my daughter and how I was headed to Virginia to file for custody down there.  I left  Monday afternoon and got into Virginia Beach around midnight.  I remember that bus ride because while I was awake the whole time the girl next to me thought I was asleep and tried to sleep on my shoulder.  I was getting in midnight and heading back on a 3:30PM bus.  

I met up with Timile’s cousin who I spent the night with and was going to take me to Hampton’s courthouse the next day.  We got there at about 9.  I filed the petition for custody and had a seat to wait for further instructions.  Everything seemed fine at that point.

About five minutes later a clerk came from the back and called out loud for “Chad Milner.”  I raised my hand and they asked me to come in the back.  Timile’s cousin came in the back too.  We both looked at each other and thought “Uh oh!” because going in the back to talk in private is NEVER good.  

We got to the back and the clerk said to me that she was reviewing my petition for custody for my daughter.  I said “Yes.”  Her exact words were “Did you know that there’s a hearing for custody tomorrow?” I replied “No, I didn’t.  I just happened to come down to Virginia today to fill out paperwork.”  The clerk then said “Yes, its filled by Timile’s father under the grounds that they don’t know where you are.”

I went into my bag and pulled out all of my paperwork and proved otherwise.  I gave phone records showing the last time they called me in November as well as pictures of them holding Cydney at the hospital in New York that I took.  There was even a picture at my house in New York.  I showed documentation from court in New York as well as copies that they had been served by the Hampton Sheriff’s Department which proved that their whole premise was false.  She said well, “I’m going to add you to the docket and the hearing is tomorrow at 8 AM.”

I guess I’m not getting on this 3:30PM bus.  They really were expecting to waltz into court that next day and walk out with custody thinking their plan would work.  Timile’s cousin was RIGHT.  They were up to something.  We laughed thinking how unpleasantly surprised they will be that I just happened to be in court that day.  That was God working.  Had I not been there that day, they could have had custody and I be tied up in red tape for years trying to get my daughter back.

I went to Burlington and bought a cheap shirt, tie, and pants because all I came with was my paperwork and the clothes on my back.  That felt like such a long day since we were out of there at 10AM and I had nothing to do until the next morning. 

That morning on our way to court, we prayed that everything just worked out in my favor.  I walked in there with no fear and by myself.  Standing outside of the courtroom I sat to the side because I didn’t want to be seen.  I saw them walk up the stairs all dressed up and walking in confidently.  Their lawyer met up with them and they talked for a minute.  Still no one saw me.  A little later Timile’s father saw me.  He walked by like he was going to the bathroom trying to psyche me out and said with a smile “How ya doin’?!”  I didn’t respond because I didn’t have jack shit to say.  Of course when he came back, they reconvened with their lawyer.  The brief look of panic on Timile’s mother’s face: PRICELESS!

We got together in the courtroom before seeing the judge to get the docket together.  As the father I got to speak first saying I’m filing for full custody and no visitation on the grounds that I do not trust them and I have written words from Timile herself about how their questionable parenting that lead to her lifelong bout with depression (A published piece called Drawn Out Of Dejection). I had the ten pages of detail that wasn’t published but was handed in to her professor as part of class because she wrote it on my computer that went into details about things she didn’t want published.  Trying to not show a response to what I said, I know they were wondering what I was talking about.  They too were filing for full custody but with visitation.  I laughed in my head because that was the DUMBEST shit I’d ever heard in life.  And they’ve said and done plenty of dumb things before.

We went before the judge.  She stated that she had received the DNA results from the magistrate in New York.  She then said that because there are two separate petitions that we would resume May 21, 2012.  She would assign Cydney her own lawyer to decide in her best interest and that we would need to both meet with them.

Before we adjourned the judge stated that she didn’t renew Timile’s parents’ temporary custody past February 1 because she already knew that I was Cydney’s father and that I was around.  However, they asked the judge for temporary legal custody until May 21.  The judge asked me if I was ok with that.  I said “No, I haven’t seen my daughter in four months.”  The then said “We would grant liberal visitation.”  The judge asked if I was okay with that.  “No.  The last time I was over there it was a hostile situation in which cops were involved.”  The judge’s eyebrows raised as if saying “Oh really?!”

Their lawyer then requested to speak to me on the side to try to negotiate with me for temporary custody.  I listened but I was keeping my stance.  I knew the law in Virginia was that as long as I have proof that Cydney is my daughter I could take her whenever I pleased.  

I left court and let Cydney stay IN their custody because I wanted to lawyer up and have all questions answered.  I knew that they had no legal rights to her.  I just wanted to talk to the Cydney’s lawyer first, let that be on the record, and then prepare for Cydney coming back to New York.  I had already had it made up in my mind I was coming back for Cydney in a couple of weeks.  I wouldn’t tell them when.  I was just coming.