I heard that my great-aunt died today-- of a stroke, apparently. I hadn't seen her in more than a year, but I was still disturbed by how little I was affected when told. I was like stone.
My great-aunt was a classy lady. My parents commented today that they found her cold... nice, but distant. I don't think I ever saw that side. Perhaps she seemed a little stand-offish with her pantsuits and her perfected coiffed hair, but I guess I never saw it. I never knew life without her, so I just accepted her for what she was-- a member of my grandparents' generation and therefore deserving of a respectful distance.
I don't think a cold woman would have told me about her experiences at the same Jewish camp that I went to, sans the pool and indoor plumbing. I think she would have hidden her fear of spiders and the dark corners of bath houses if she had a front to maintain. When I mentioned to her about a possible visit to camp, she smiled. I guess it's too late for that now.
There are times when I would rather not have the grown up relationship with my parents that I have now. If I was still a child, they would have broken the news to me gently and just let me have my own uninformed opinions of the dead.
And if I was a child, I would have cried.
PS. I miss you. I should have visited more. I should be able to cry. I'm sorry.