Hey everyone. I was hoping to get some input on a situation I have. My dad emailed me today and told me that my brother's wife has thyroid cancer. She has been given a good prognosis and it will be treated surgically very soon. Here's my issue. I am not now, nor have I ever been, close with my brother. In fact, he's really just a stranger to me. He is my dad's son from his first marriage and thus my half brother. He is 15 years older than I and so between age difference and the fact that he went to live with his mom by the time I came along, we didn't grow up together.
My brother was never interested in having a relationship with me. The only times I generally saw him were the obligatory family get togethers. We never had a problem between us, we just didn't have a genuine relationship, which was ok with both of us. I haven't seen him in seven years and I live about 1,000 miles from him. We don't communicate. Two years ago he found me on facebook and we started having casual conversations and laughing a lot. Things seemed good. One day he tried to start an argument with me over politics, which I neither brought up nor appreciated. After trying to shy away from the topic unsuccessfully, I told him that I didn't want to argue over what ultimately amounted to personal opinions. He stopped speaking to me. I don't mean there was an actual estrangement, just that he no longer communicated with me through FB. He's done that very thing to my father in the past as well.
Now that my SIL has cancer, I'm not sure what to do. She is a very nasty, rude woman who treated my parents like crap throughout the years, though she was ok to me. I have absolutely no feelings for her and to be honest, no feelings for my brother. He really is a stranger to me and I'm not sure I would recognize him if I saw him on the street. I've had two major surgeries in 4 years. Neither was a life saving operation but he was aware of both and never even emailed me to ask how I was doing. I'm fine with that and didn't expect him to do otherwise.
My question is what do I do? What I want to do is send him an email saying that I heard about SIL, that I'm sorry and ask him what is going on treatment wise etc. I'd like to ask him to keep me updated. If he didn't I would send an occasional email to ask about her. I don't want to call him to be perfectly honest . However I don't know what the protocol is here. I want to try to do the right thing but in truth, I don't feel that I owe more than the email . I'm sure that sounds terrible but I'm just being honest. To me he is not really family and has never indicated that he has more feeling towards me than what I have for him. Again, I know that sounds harsh but I feel this way for a reason. What do you think is the right thing to do?