I received an email from my sister this afternoon, telling me to call my mother. At the time, I assumed that it was for them to inform me that they'd been incommunique because the power had been out for the past few days (huge storm in the Midwest). Instead, my mother told me that her mother, my last remaining grandparent, had died that morning.
Twenty minutes after receiving the news, I sat in my friend Michelle's house, watching an episode of House, readying to go to a movie.
What bothers me is that I don't really feel anything about this. Perhaps this grandmother is a specific case, because she'd been "dead to me" (I use the term very loosely; I have always loved her) for several years. She had bad Alzheimer's, and the last Christmas she spent with our family, she knew my parents and my older brother and sister, but didn't know who I was. At that moment, I had accepted the fact that things would never be the same between the two of us.
But my grandfather on my father's side died very suddenly earlier this summer (the day of the World Cup finals, actually). This was a surprise to everyone; he was very healthy, and was expected to live much longer. Even then, I felt nothing. I didn't cry. I heard the news, went on a drive to clear my head, and accepted a friend's drink invitation to help "cheer me up" (which technically wasn't needed).
When my father's father died, and my friend asked to take me out for a drink, I pulled my ever-stoic father aside and said, "Dad, my friend has asked me to go out tonight. If you want me to stay, I'll stay." He told me to go, keep with my normal routine, etc. But then he said something strange for him. He said to me, "I hope you're not as cold as I am."
For him, his "being cold" is appropriate. He's a doctor. He's surrounded by death, and I think every doctor has to adapt to that situation. But I am very much my father's daughter, including this seeming coldness when someone I know dies. Aside from crying over my other grandfather when I was eleven, I have never cried when a friend or family member has died. It's strange to me, because I'm generally a very feeling and empathetic person. Yet when it comes to death, I feel absolutely nothing.
So my father's words came to mind again when I was at Michelle's house. I took a few minutes to myself outside, and his words played on a loop in my mind. Is this a bad thing? Why do I just switch off completely when someone dies? How can I so easily go right back to whatever I was doing after hearing such news? Am I a bad person for being this way? And why is my being cold about death such a freakish anomaly considering my "norm"?
Is it bad, or wrong, or inappropriate, or justified that I feel guilty about not feeling bad or worse about this?