I got a pearl necklace for Christmas. It was an investment and a guilt gift more than anything else. Not that he said he was sorry. But he should be. Aunt Mamie died a couple of weeks ago, so we flew into Albany, NY for her funeral. I was grateful to be invited to stay at my sister’s house so we could spend more time with everyone. Anjelica loves the family dog and cat, and had fun playing with both pets. Most of my family was gathered for the evening to share memories and comfort each other. Despite the underlying sadness of the recent days, everything was great, until the dog licked Anjelica’s cheek. Lou scooped her up and away like she was in the path of an oncoming vehicle, grumbled that it was gross, and forbid her from playing with the dog. Trying to ease the heavy uncomfortable vibe, my mom commented that she had heard there are more germs in a human’s mouth than in a dog’s. Lou did not lighten up at all but continued to voice his disgust about how gross it was.

My sister mentioned that her friend offered to babysit Anjelica while we attended Mamie’s funeral, and was flexible on arrangements. I appreciated that she found us that option, but Lou was clearly not on-board. I knew he was irritated, but later that night when we spoke in the guest bedroom, he unleashed his fury. The dog licking incident replayed like a mauling attack. My mother’s fun fact about germs was a purposeful undermining, as she and everyone else ganged up against him. He ranted that it was disgusting to have a dog and cat in the house. I suggested we stay at a hotel. Ignoring this, the tirade moved on to accuse my sister of trying to control everything; there was no way she would dictate who would watch Anjelica, and that he would not leave his child with a stranger. I responded that we can still do as planned and take turns with Anjelica away from the funeral when appropriate, but that most gatherings would be fine. He said it was stupid for him to be there just to sit in a hotel and babysit Anjelica, and that he would rather they go back home where he can be comfortable. I explained how much I wanted and needed them to be with me and that I would do whatever it took to stay there together. I have never been separated from Anjelica overnight before, and I didn’t want it to happen now. In tears, I literally begged him not to leave. What mattered most to me did not matter at all. His decision had been made. First thing in the morning he changed his ticket. I intended to make up an excuse for him, but when my sister asked why I needed to borrow her car, I broke down in tears. Anjelica and I were finally able to spend time with my family, and he was taking her away.

I was being punished. I didn’t do anything. My crime was in what I didn’t do. A dog licked our daughter, and I didn’t get outraged. My family made light of it, and I didn’t defend Lou. My sister offered assistance, and I didn’t see it as an offensive controlling maneuver. She has pets, and I don’t think it is gross.

I didn’t get to peacefully honor my aunt. I didn’t get to spend precious time together with my daughter and my entire family. I didn’t get to spend much time with my family since I left earlier than planned. I did get to cry. That’s about all I did do. I don’t think I have ever cried so much in my entire life. I’m still mad, still sad. He insists that he was right about everything, including the decision to go home with Anjelica. He’s not the least bit apologetic, even for the pain it caused.

I wasn’t thrilled about my Christmas gift. He showed me all his research and took me to the store to look at the Mikimoto pearls that he identified as being “the best”. I was with him when he negotiated the price, bought them, and then insisted on an appraisal at a higher value. He kept talking about them as a good investment. I don’t need expensive jewelry, and never asked for pearls. He’d seen the pearl necklace I got from Mamie’s estate, which are not expensive, but have sentimental value. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the beauty and value of the Mikimoto pearls, it’s just that I don’t need them, and doubt they will get much use. I tried to persuade him not to get them, but he insisted. It’s my own fault. I should have said that I didn’t want them, rather than that I didn’t need them.

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