I don't know how I managed to walk out of the mediation room and make it to the vinyl bench seat in the nondescript hallway of the court building. I don't remember what I was wearing, which floor we were on or what I was carrying. All I remember is that that day was the day that I sat blubbering for what seemed like hours, leaning on the wall to support my weight. My body heaved with primal crying, loud and dramatic. I ended up silently gulping and whimpering. My clothing and hair became dishevelled and my makeup a mess.
I was lost, devastated. My mind was both confused and blank at the same time. It was the kind of feeling that something had happened that just didn't compute. I was unable to believe what had happened and unable to consider doing anything. The image I have is that I was like a rugby player who has unexpectedly been tackled from behind and finds themselves on the ground, stunned.
'Catherine, we need to go,' my lawyer, Ryoko urged during a pause in my crying. I suspect that she was already planning how to get me to fire her as my lawyer. 'Let's go outside, we can't stay here.'
I'm sure I had a million questions to ask her, but disbelief and shock hid them from me. They would come, in the days and weeks that followed, turned over and examined from every direction in my mind. They still remain unanswered.
I tried to stand up and walk, but my whole body felt weak. Eventually I followed Ryoko blindly to the lift and out of the building. We must have said goodbye and somehow I must have caught the train across Tokyo to return to the family house that I now lived in alone.
That was the last day I went to the Tokyo Family Court building and it was the day I really understood that no one was going to help me meet my children, and that no one from the court really cared, either about them or about the fact that they were cut off from their mother. That was the day I knew it had all been a performance, designed to look fair and even-handed, but actually with a predestined outcome. An outcome that was essentially determined the day my then husband abducted our children.