My mother is in town for the weekend to attend my cousin’s confirmation at church in KC tomorrow. She drove up this morning, because we both had things to do last night. I called her along the way and she told me that my cousin’s 16-year-old son was killed yesterday. This is a strange deal — he was shot while riding around in a car with his friends. Apparently, one of the kids brought a gun along and (we think) was playing with it, showing it off, or something, and shot him through the back of the seat.
I am close to most of my family in that I always have an idea of what’s going on with them, where they are, etc. We generally all see each other a few times a year — sometimes much more often. This child, and his mother, my cousin, are one of two branches on my mom’s side with which we aren’t all in great contact. I have maybe met this kid four times in my life — that might be over-estimating it, and at least two of those times were just because we ran into him and his mom at the grocery store. Yet my cousin, his mom, was a stock character in my childhood experiences. I think she even briefly lived with us, or was supposed to live with us. She’s about 10 years older than I am, maybe not even quite that much. So, it’s a strange thing, because we’ve been so distant for so long — she was estranged from the family for quite a while — and I don’t know how to react. I don’t have the immediate and visceral grief reaction that my mom and my grandparents do. They had all just seen him recently and talked to him, because he was working at a restaurant in Hutch. I have very few points of common life reference anymore with my cousin — she’s, like I said, 10 years older than I am and has three kids, she’s been divorced (I think) and also widowed, and now her oldest boy is dead. This is so bizarre to me.
The best reaction I have, so far, is to wonder at how people who should be so close to me can somehow fall so far off the map of my known world.