I just found out via round about way, through an email sent by my mom, that my aunt's husband of twenty years died of cancer two weeks ago. He was fighting the cancer for over a year and a half. He left behind a seventeen year old daughter and a daughter who I think is about twenty years old.
I had no idea. The real kicker is that the email wasn't really about the death itself. The email wasn't even sent exclusively to me. It was the kind of email that one sends to a bunch of people updating them on a bunch of different topics, all of which are totally unrelated to each other.
As I'm reading the aforementioned email, and as anyone who receives such emails knows, it feels really just like I'm reading an email intended for someone else. Who? What? Where?
To Anyone On My Contact List:
For anyone who cares, this is what is going on with my life. Yadda Yadda Yadda. Blah Blah Blah. Oh, by the way, your uncle died.
Keep in touch.
I'm not an old friend, former co-worker, or peer. I'm not even a "contact".
This is is how the news is broken to me. I was totally stunned and shocked. I not only had no idea that my aunt's husband was even sick, but I didn't know that they were new grandparents. That's right, apparently my cousin, all of about twenty years old, is a mom. Or maybe it's the seventeen year old that's a new mom. Not likely, but how in the world would I know the difference? My crazy family never keeps me updated on anything. It's nuts.
And it has always been this way. We all say we should keep in touch, but we never do. My mom's one of eight children and I have five first cousins and six second cousins. But I haven't a clue as to who is dying, giving birth, getting married, getting divorced, moving, or even still related to me.
Do they sell belated sympathy cards that say, "My Dear Aunt, sorry you lost the love of your life. I had no idea that he was even sick. Congrats on the new grandchild. Your thoughtful and sympathetic neice."
I don't think so.