Thursday, October 27, 2011

INTP grieving

I've been playing with Myers Briggs types lately to understand myself and my relationships with others. I've been trying to understand where I come up short and where I excel, trying to figure out what my strengths are and what I would be better suited for in life.

One test said I'm INTP - Introverted (versus Extroverted), iNtuitive (versus Sensing), Thinking (versus Feeling), Perceiving (versus Judging).

My uncle (father's brother) Roger passed away this morning.

Roger is 10 months younger than my dad - and they have some scarily similar mannerisms. Roger and my dad shake their heads the same after swimming, they ski the same, their speech has the same cadence, heck, they even swear the same.

Roger, his wife Diane, and my cousins Mike and Nicole live in Truckee - under four hours from Palo Alto (where I live) and close to great skiing. I've become close with them - I've spent dozens of nights at their home since I moved to California. Roger and Diane are great hosts - they've even opened up their home for my friends. Every meal with them is engaging, and love is palpable around them.

He was diagnosed in April of 2010 with a stage 3 GBM tumor - basically a badass brain tumor that had a 5% survival rate at 6 months. He had incredible doctors, nurses, and surgeons, and in the summer of 2010 it appeared the cancer was kicked. He did chemotherapy but there was no sign on the MRI of cancer anymore.

In March of this year, the cancer came back. Roger underwent surgery, but nothing seemed to work. This summer, he had a ruptured appendix surgically excised. Roger had to pause too much of his cancer medicine while the wound closed. The cancer had been crawling stubbornly to kill him, and after the surgery it was running.

I got the call Sunday that Roger was doing poorly. He passed away this morning at home - a few hours after the 4.7 quake 20 miles northwest of Truckee. He was 62 - too young.

I got the call from my mom at about 7:45 this morning to tell me. And I didn't cry. I bet my mom heard a robot on the phone - I was close to my uncle. And my voice showed no emotion, heck, I didn't feel much.

I didn't feel numb, I don't feel much except when I think about the loss. Just thinking "My uncle is dead" doesn't make me sad. Thinking "I won't be able to talk to him again" makes me sad. When I go visit his home and Roger's not there, when I see family pictures of my aunt Diane and my cousins without Roger, when I see my Dad with Diane and without Roger, that's when I'll grieve.

I feel weird about how I don't seem to grieve - but that's my personality type. I struggle to feel what his death means until I think through the scenarios that are different. And when I do feel what his death means, I struggle to express it others. I think that's part of the curse of being an INTP - we grieve - but we grieve on our own schedule, we grieve when we are in the moment where something is lost, and we don't express our grief well to others.

I'm happy that Roger lived for 18 months when he was given 6. I'm better for having gotten to know him better than I know my other aunts and uncles. But I will miss him - something won't feel right for a long time when I'm with his family or even when I'm in the greater Tahoe area.

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