An Open Letter in Reply to 26 April 2010 Letter by Connie Demerest:
To the reader: I have gone nine years without addressing these issues again. I would not be doing so now if it were not for the letter that I received. It is sometimes difficult to remember that this is not about my wife or me or even the Demerest family, but rather about a life lost. It is about a death that did not need to happen.
On Thursday, 29 April 2010, I received an envelope in the mail that had no return address on it. It was from the mother of my deceased son’s last girlfriend. In the second paragraph, she wrote, “ Roger told me I should ignore what you wrote, but I'm sorry-I can't do that. I don't like loose ends in life, and I believe in justice.” At least Roger had enough intelligence to leave things alone. Keep the words, “I believe in justice” in mind as you read the rest of this information. It will really give some insight into the character of the people that Shawn and the rest of our family had to deal with during his last few months
She states in the first paragraph, “ I was talking to Rachel today, who informed me of the existence of your web page and some of its contents. I was not aware of it previously, and as it has been almost two years since you updated it, maybe you have partially forgotten about it yourself.” It was nice to know that it only took her eight years to find the web site. Apparently, she thought the date of the last site map revision corresponds to the last date I updated the information on the site. I doubt she knows what a site map is or that the site continually changes. I recently since deleted the site map date. I would not want to confuse her.
Within the next few sentences, she attempts to paint her daughter in a better light. In reality, she validates the information that I presented eight years ago. Here are some examples of how highly she regarded her own daughter. She states in the second paragraph, “… -neither Shawn or Rachel were very good at telling the truth at that point in time.” In the fifth paragraph she acknowledges, “Rachel and Shawn seemed to bring out the worst in each other. They also hung out with some other kids that seemed to have little interest in school, or anything else except having fun.” She tries to imply that only Shawn was using drugs when she states, “ I went to their apartment and it was obvious Shawn had been smoking Pot. The smell hung in the air. Rachel wasn't home.” However, my wife and I both had the opportunity to discuss drug use with Rachel and she admitted using pot and other drugs. Keep in mind that the reason for Connie’s letter was that she “believes in justice.” In order to bring justice, there needs to be some truth.
In the sixth paragraph, she acknowledges that “ Rachel told us that she and Shawn were not sure who had fathered Ethan.” Yet there was pressure on Shawn to “take responsibility” for the child. There were numerous times when I was talking on the phone to Shawn while Connie was in the background shouting to him to “be a man” and “do the right thing.” Those were her exact words. However, she seems unable to connect this with her comments in the next paragraph when she says,
"I really don't understand your reference about us asking you for money for Rachel's medication and vitamins. Why would we do that when our insurance paid for all that, all her and Ethan's treatment and costs-which were considerable since Rachel came very close to death due to Pre-eclampsia and Hypertension. That simply makes no sense. "
If you read that last paragraph carefully, you'll see what I meant regarding this family’s obsession about money. Apparently, Connie has completely forgotten that I was on the phone with Shawn when she was berating him about not contributing to their expenses. She did state that they had to pay for all of Rachel’s costs, the doctor’s visits, the medications, the vitamins. She did state that Shawn should be paying for all of it. And she said it loud. It is likely that her objective was to guilt me into paying the bills for them. Moreover, it would be consistent with other events that they would take the money, even if their insurance would reimburse them. I do agree with the last sentence. It “simply makes no sense” to pay the medical expenses for a child fathered by some other boy.
In the next paragraph, she rejects the notion that they “intervened” in our attempts to help Shawn and at the same time attempts to liable Shawn. She concludes the same paragraph with the statement “ Of course, we began the have extreme resentment towards you and Sylvia for dumping your problem in our lap!” We did not dump anything in their labs. We did not want them to get involved at all. This is what I talked about in final chapters of Shawn’s biography. While we were trying to help change some of Shawn’s behaviors, get him back to work, get him back to school, they were enabling the behaviors. That is precisely how they “intervened.”
Any yet in the next paragraph, she states, “ Yes-we got very tired of taking care of your Son, emotionally and financially. You contributed NOTHING!!” I’m not sure why she repeatedly capitalized “Son” in her letter, but that could be a whole other issue. I am surprised that she can not see this inconsistency. On one hand, she wants us to believe that she help Shawn out of the goodness of her heart. On the other hand, she resented the cost. Remember the earlier discussion where she denies monetary objectives? I am also amazed at the last sentence. Apparently, she is oblivious to the tens of thousands of dollars that my wife and I contributed to Shawn and Rachel. Those two would charge large amounts on credit cards, some for household goods, jewelry, video games, clothes, etc., that we ended up paying for. Never once did we ask them to contribute one penny. And who ended up with everything after Shawn died? You guessed it, the girlfriend. My wife and I took nothing from Shawn’s last apartment. In addition, although they tried to saddle Shawn with the responsibility of their grandchild, they contributed nothing to his funeral expenses. Of course, we did not ask them to.
She has such a “generous” heart that she wrote, “ We felt that at least you could contribute a little to Shawn's food expenses, or at the very least give him a little pocket money-so he didn't steal it from us and our kids.” It is so frustrating that they could not see that their enabling behavior was a primary cause in preventing us from reaching Shawn. Then she wants us to pay for the demise of Shawn.
Money wasn’t the largest sacrifice. We suffered through the pain of seeing our son on a steady decline from the time he first became involved with this family. It is like a train wreck in slow motion. You can see it coming, but you are helpless to stop it. We wanted Shawn to come home and get his life on track, but with their interference, it was never going to happen. It is easier to hang out with a girlfriend at her parents’ house than be responsible and prepare for the future. Yet she denies they “intervened.”
In paragraph thirteen, she goes back to the money issue. “ The 300 hundred dollars Roger talked about-which I regret he brought up at the time he did (that was not right) - was for a car repair for Shawn's car…. But of course we are still holding the bag for that one.” See what I mean about the obsession with money? Notice that she says, “…we are still holding the bag for that one.” Are they “still” waiting for me to pay them? Did they pay me for working Rachel’s car? Did they forget about the time when one of Shawn’s cars was registered in Rachel’s name that I had to pay Roger to get the title? Money, money, money.
In paragraph fifteen, she says, “ Did Shawn ever tell you what lead to Rachel sleeping with another guy besides him? They had a big fight, and Shawn stormed out. He called her and told her he had slept with another girl. Rachel was so hurt she went out with girlfriends that night and ran into a guy she knew from working at Honda-and one thing lead to another.” Image that. She intentionally had sex with someone outside her relation with Shawn. So it was not an “accident” from being too drunk as she initially claimed? In either case, she got pregnant by this person and the final chapter was written. I really do not see how having a fight, or even claiming to have slept with someone else justifies this behavior. Remember, Connie is trying to make Rachel look better than what I had written earlier. I will let you decide if she is succeeding.
In paragraph seventeen, she wrote, “ I really don't understand what inspired you to put what you did on Shawn's marker-he didn't die trying to protect Ethan-he died from a drug overdose pure and simple.” A couple paragraphs later she wrote about her own son’s suicide, “ He was a very gifted young man, like Shawn was, and he studied his disease and decided he didn't want to live dealing with it. To him, his decision was based on logic.” So apparently, in her mind, Shawn was an incompetent drug user and her son was rational, logical person. To take your own life because you don’t want to deal with an illness is not the act of a “logical” person, especially when there are treatments available. Not everyone with her son’s illness commits suicide, and nor should they. I would not wish that on anyone. However, I can understand how she would not understand what was put on Shawn’s tombstone, it involves sacrifice. In Shawn’s last letter, he wrote how he knew that his behavior was not good for the people around him. He clearly felt that his presence was detrimental to Ethan. He said he was sorry for his behavior and he took his own life. Sacrifice. Giving up something, in this case his very life, for the ones he loved. I truly believe Connie when she states, “ I really don't understand what inspired you to put what you did on Shawn's marker.” What “inspired” me was love and my recognition that, however, misguided, Shawn acted out of love. It was not simply a “drug overdose” as Connie believes. I ask the reader to consider what is nobler: to take your own life so you don’t have to deal with an illness, or to take you own life to reduce your burden on the ones you love. I can not overemphasize that neither of these young men should have died. Both of them could have been helped. It was simply unfortunate that the common denominator for both of these young men was this one family.
There is another reason for the wording of the tombstone. It reads, “Sacrificed his own life to protect Ethan whom he loved as his own son.” Notice that it does not say, “Sacrificed his own life to protect his son Ethan.” Even before the DNA test confirmed it, we knew that Shawn was not Ethan’s biological father. Shawn died trying to protect someone who was not his biological son. You have to admire that level of love.
In the next to the last paragraph, she writes about having hallucinations, such as seeing or hearing Shawn after he died. I have no doubt that she had them. In the last paragraph, she gives an update what has been happening in her family. I won’t comment on any of that. However, there was one other item that she mentioned in the letter that refers to (you guessed it) wanting more money. However, since the court system has already ruled on that issue, I will not comment on that either.