I’ve been reflecting on a lot of things since we arrived on our NYC “vacation,” and unfortunately I am stuck writing this letter that you will never read because it’s the best I can do. I know you don’t want to hear my actual thoughts on things, but there are so many things bothering me that I needed to get them out somehow, even if only in a format which will never reach you.
My brain’s been on overdrive since we went out with you and our little niece to see a movie together as a family a few days ago. Your son started discussing money with you when we sat down to eat (and honestly, I don’t know why he even bothered). He said that we were not getting anyone Christmas gifts this year because we were so broke and that we had spend our last dollars getting to NYC. Our being here is the best we can do for gifts this year, and that’s that.
You told him, “Well, I mean, you could still get people a little something. I’m broke and I still bought gifts.”
I’m not sure you understood how hurtful your statement was. Granted, it was a simple statement, and perhaps it seems that we both read into it farther than we should have, so I will have to explain a little bit. But wow. Your son had surgery 2 months ago from which he has not fully recovered. He tripped up the stairs three times while trying to get up to your fourth-floor apartment because he couldn’t hold his weight on his knee as he climbed. We KNEW this would be an issue, and we still came.
We blew through all of our savings just trying to pay our bills because your son was out of work due to his injury. We are still not 100% certain we will be able to pay our full rent next month. We also do not know how we’re going to replace that money in the new year, but we need to move before this time next year so we’re going to have a lot of ground to cover when we get home to make sure we can do that. We STILL came here.
I declined to work when we came here, even though I kind of needed to (what an understatement), because I was under the impression that you needed us here with you, and I knew you would be upset if we didn’t spend time together because of my job. So I had to sell my plasma so we could have enough gas money to get here. I have only given plasma twice before and vowed to stop after doing some research and walking away with some serious questions and ethical concerns. But I did it so we could get home. They fucked up the procedure – they had to stick me, a needle-phobe, in both arms, and still could not draw the plasma properly. I ended up losing a lot of blood and crying a lot of tears for a whopping $70 and had bruises on both arms that didn’t go away for a week.
We did what we needed to do NOT to see our friends, NOT to eat good food (although we have done these things), but for YOU. Because you lost your daughter. Because Angel lost his sister. Because it seemed like Angel needed his parents as much as you seemed to need him.
So when I heard you say, “Well, you could still get us a gift,” yes I was angry. But I was also pretty hurt. So was your son. If we knew that was how it was going to be, that we were going to literally expel blood, sweat, and tears to be able to spend time with you and that, in your mind, gift-getting would trump those efforts, we would have saved our money, stayed home, and send you a trinket in the mail.
You cannot say you did not know we went through all of this. We TOLD you so. We did not make the definite decision to come home until after Thanksgiving because we were still trying to figure out how we would afford it. You KNEW that because we had conversations with you 3 or 4 times a week about it. You offered to send us money ONE TIME, and that was only when we were a day or two out from Thanksgiving and still hadn’t come to a decision. You saw the bruises on my arms when we got here and had to help Angel when he came into he house because he was limping so bad from his various falls. We asked you for nothing, we did not accept your offer. We figured out our own way. We did not want to be burdens. We wanted to be support. For you.
And yet it seems all you cared about was getting a fucking gift this year. When your son said half-jokingly, “Hey, which would you rather have, a gift or us?” you replied, “It’s okay. I’m usually the one who gives other people stuff and no one gives me anything, so that’s fine.”
Angel and I had a whole conversation before going to bed that night and wanted to leave. We have our car, we’re free to leave whenever we like, and we figured that if that’s how it was going to be then there was no point in us staying here any longer. You clearly do not appreciate all that we had to do just to see you. So we were tempted to cut the trip short, but we slept on it and decided to stick it out because there are so many other reasons for us to be here.
The next day, we dropped our niece at her father’s. We ended up staying for a few hours as Jasmine’s ex and her oldest daughter told us about all the nasty, spiteful things Jasmine had done over the years. Turns out that Amber found an archive of texts this week that Jasmine had sent to her friends over the last year and a half. Jasmine, your daughter, said horrible things about her own child and about her brother. It opened up old wounds for Amber, and Jasmine showed herself to be vindictive, spiteful, and frankly quite a terrible human being.
Thing is, Angel and I were upset but we were not shocked. Because unlike you and everyone else, we saw through Jasmine’s crap from the beginning. We always knew that she lied, and we knew what she would lie about. We never assumed she was perfect. We never ignored her faults. Angel, who was always there when his sister needed him, actually said NO to her once when he felt she was going too far with a request. And he did that because he LOVED his sister enough to tell her the truth. His sister responded to that by talking shit about him to her friends, telling them he punked out on her and that he had so much nerve asking to borrow her car.
She LIED. He NEVER, EVER, EVER, asked her for a fucking thing, especially not her crap car. How hurtful do you think that was for her brother to hear? That she would tell someone outside of the family that she couldn’t rely on the ONLY PERSON who ever cared about her enough to tell her the truth, and who was ALWAYS there when she really needed him.
We tried to tell you about all of this. We tried to explain that your “poor daughter” was no victim of life. In fact, in most cases it was her causing others pain. You did not want to hear it. You wanted people to “let it go” and stop talking badly about your daughter. You wanted people to stop because YOU were hurting. We explained that the reason you do not have a good relationship with your oldest grandchild was in large part due to the way that Jasmine depicted you. Amber sees that you were always on Jasmine’s side, even when Jasmine was self-destructing and hurting everyone around her. It’s hard to try and have a relationship with someone who has hurt you so deeply.
You replied that your granddaughter just needed to understand that no matter what “anyone” said (meaning her father in addition to her mother – once again deflecting the blame from your daughter) that you were not involved in X, Y, and Z. We said you needed to try and understand her point of view. Your response? “How can I try and understand someone who won’t trust me?” — Again, all about YOU.
In fact, you abandoned her the same way your daughter did, although admittedly with far less spite. When Jasmine realized that Amber saw through her nonsense, she disowned her. She cut off Amber’s access to money, she did not use the child support she was collecting from her father (who Amber was living with) for her child, she said she only had one daughter to take care of, and then she tried to get Amber and her father evicted from their home because she was angry. When YOU disowned your granddaughter, you did it by painting yourself as a victim. You said that you didn’t understand why Amber has treated you so badly (yeah, you do. We’ve explained it several times) and that the ball was now in her court. If she didn’t want to deal with you, oh well.
Oh well? To the granddaughter that you swore you cared for more than her own father did? Because you could not “handle” hearing about your daughter’s bullshit?
No. I think I know why you’ve dealt with things this way, why you have stressed that for YOUR sake, everyone should forget about their pain and “move on,” why you are insistent that nothing bad ever be said about Jasmine. It is because you KNOW what you’ve done. You are guilty.
You sheltered your daughter when she fucked up. You defended her when she did wrong. You justified her behavior by painting her as a victim of life, just as you do now with yourself. You never let your daughter deal with the consequences of her actions. You never called her out on her bullshit. You helped her run away from her problems.
You are the reason she was able to be such an asshole. You enabled her.
THIS is why you cannot stand to hear about your daughter’s indiscretions. Because they are YOUR indiscretions too.
Yes, I understand that she is your daughter. You love her. So does Angel, her brother. So do her daughters. But this will never change the fact that Jasmine did and said so many bad things. The people in her life are confused and hurt and they need to talk about it. They need to repeat themselves and they need to compare stories so they feel maybe like they weren’t crazy. That is how people process things.
You cannot process things this way. We are all willing to understand that. But your demands that we all stop “bringing up the past” are fucking nonsense. ESPECIALLY as it concerns Jasmine’s daughters, because everyone knows that your mother, no matter how good or bad, is your entire life for a long time. You don’t just let that shit go.
You say you don’t want us bringing up these things about Jasmine because they hurt you. I suppose that could be true. But again, I also think you know you are guilty as hell and you cannot face up to your role in all of the shitty things that your daughter said and did, the shitty way she behaved.
Jasmine was a damn good pastry chef. She was smart. She allegedly had a good heart, although I have to say I never saw it. She loved, and was loved by, many people.
However, Jasmine was also a fucking liar. She hurt people on purpose. She told every person in her life a different story in order to keep control over them. After all, if everyone hated each other, then the only person who could solve problems, the only person who would know what to do, was Jasmine.
She was not perfect by any means. Neither were you. You do not want these things discussed because you can’t deal with the fact that you also failed her as a mother in some ways. You and your husband STOLE money from her when she got a settlement from a lawsuit, then you blamed her for blowing through the money and spending it on her husband and his family. She put aside money for Angel’s college education which you helped your husband gamble away. You hurt her and your son quite a bit.
The problem here is that if you face your daughter and see her as she was, then you also have to face yourself. I know you cannot handle that. And you are in so much denial. There is an excuse for everything. Jasmine tried to make her daughter homeless? It was only because her husband “brainwashed” Amber and Jasmine needed her daughter to see the truth about her father. Jasmine was drinking too much? It must have been because she got with her husband when she was too young and had a lot of regrets. Jasmine made you take care of her youngest daughter all day every day when she lived here towards the end? It was certainly NOT because she was partying too much and up some dude’s ass, but because she was busy working 40 hours a week. Jasmine told Amber she wished she hadn’t had her? I’m sure that was her husband’s fault too somehow.
I don’t even know where to go from here. For me, the most hurtful thing of all has been to watch Angel struggle with this shit. He’s angry, he’s sad, he’s disappointed. His own sister, who he was ALWAYS there for, talked shit about him just like she did with everyone else. And his mother is far too busy mourning for her daughter and fighting a losing, and completely pointless, battle with the father of her grandchildren to give two shits about her son.
Also, you seem to think that after EVERYTHING (our fighting on behalf of Jasmine’s daughters at Jasmine’s wake, our dropping of everything to be here right after she died, our own fucking struggles at the end of the year trying to manage our lives and make this NYC trip happen), the most important thing… is some material object.
Not your son’s presence. Not the fences you need to mend with her granddaughter. But the material things that can be provided for you. And then the nerve you had to be a martyr… Because you’re always doing for everyone else, but no one does for you…
This morning, Angel said to you that he never wanted to come back to NYC after this. I’m with him on that. You’re not the only disappointment. There were so many friends who were supposed to see him and have now mysteriously fallen off the face of the planet. Also, the atmosphere in general is too much. In addition, he’s watching me, his wife, struggle through having to stay with you and your two dogs, which I am terribly allergic to. Despite having knowledge of my allergies, you’ve petted the dogs near me (letting their fur fly everywhere), had them all over the couch (which you then want me to sit on to watch movies with you), etc. I’ve been on tons of medications since we’ve gotten here, and Angel’s been so concerned about me that he’s waking up through the night to make sure I’m still breathing. I’m DROWNING in my own fucking mucus to be here with you. These things do not endear Angel to this place.
You asked him why, and he didn’t even go into all of that. He explained it simply: he felt like there was nothing here for him anymore and there’s a whole life waiting for him outside of NYC. You said, “Well, I guess I’ll never see you then.”
He said, “You can always come visit us, silly.”
Your reply: “Yeah, but still…”
Where is your sacrifice? When will you do something for your son? When will you stop expecting him to do for you, to cater to you? You got angry when he said he was not going to use our car to drive you all over the place. We explained why: we had almost gotten into several accidents after coming into the city because people here are nuts, and our car is our ONLY way of getting home. If something happens to that car, we’re fucked. So we’re getting around by bus and subway, thank you very much.
This was apparently not a good enough explanation for you.
Words cannot express how angry I am at the way everything has gone since we arrived here and how eager I’ve been to go home to Appleton after our first couple of nights staying here.
I could go on and on, so I guess I’ll end here with a few things for you to consider:
– If you keep on trying to ignore the parts of your daughter that you find unpleasant, you will also continue to push away parts of yourself. This will leave you completely miserable and ignorant for the rest of your life.
– During Jasmine’s church service, you asked that I stay next to you because you needed me. I did because I felt I owed you a lot. After all, you took me in when my parents didn’t give a fuck and kicked me out on my ass with nowhere to go. However, you tend to forget that you almost didn’t take me in because of YOUR DAUGHTER, who told you that it was bad idea to let me in, you didn’t know me or my family, I was just gonna take advantage, etc. Angel and your husband had to fight against the shit Jasmine was putting in your head. Yet I stood by you as you grieved for someone who, if she had had her way, would have ruined my entire fucking life. I also almost took a punch to the face for her kids. Think about that the next time you want to be a martyr and claim you’re all alone.
– You cannot heal until you start dealing with your guilt and your pain, and try to make sense of your daughter’s life.
– If you do not let go of all the bullshit, you will never reconcile with your grandchild. This will only result in your own misery and you will end up all alone as she continues to happily live her life.
– It is not anyone’s responsibility to make you feel better or to cater to you because you are hurting. EVERYONE is hurting. You don’t have a monopoly on pain.
– You need to seriously consider why you feel the need to fight on behalf of your daughter even after her death and even after it’s been PROVEN to you that she never needed you to fight for her. In fact, you should have let her go much sooner than you did.
– When you no longer have Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings with your family, because your son did not bother returning to New York and your grandchild and her father did not visit you even though they only live 15 minutes away, I hope you remember this moment in time when your blind love for your daughter and for possessions caused you to alienate everyone around you.
– You complained that since your daughter died you have no one to talk to and no one to help you. You said this TO YOUR SON’S FACE AS HE SAT DEAD IN FRONT OF YOU. In pain I might add with his fucking knee, which you never ask about until you hear me ask first. So if that’s how it is, I hope you’re happier when we send you a $20 gift next year and stay in Appleton with our friends instead of actually spending time with you.