Reasoning with Madness
"This is a barbaric yawp, and it will be sounded over the roofs of the world."
Sending love and support to anyone going through dark times right now, in whatever way.
There's plenty of folks who are just taking an awkward staycation and moaning about being bored or cooped up or watching too much tv.
There's plenty more who are terrified of losing their home, losing a family member, having to work at a hospital or grocery store or delivery service or really anywhere that can't or won't let their staff work from home.
There are millions out of work, immediately, who are going to drown in this mess if they don't get help soon. There's hundreds of thousands who are struggling to survive, struggling with this illness and thousands dying from it.
I get trying to keep it light or humorous at times to keep the darkness at bay, but I just want to acknowledge the people who are truly suffering right now, who are lost, in pain, at the end of their rope, fighting the war of a lifetime.
Keep fighting. Hang in there. You are loved.
We will make it.
We will make it together.
As I sit and attempt to work from home, waiting for the painfully slow work laptop to determine when it will access the network remotely, I listen to music, watching the dark grey skies float through the bizarre spring air and wonder what all this is doing to me.
The apocalypse is no longer a future event, it is now. I am not sick with the virus, yet. My father has not acquired it. None of my family. We are sheltering in place. Stocked on food for a little while. I have arms and plenty of brass in case this gets really ugly. At least I'll go down guns blazing protecting myself and my family. My job, like millions of others, is in a state of limbo in a way that horrifies me thinking of what happens if none of us find our way back to real work. I know these are not the most rational thoughts, but when one even peeks at that jackal of a president and how he's treating this, it's clear that we have no leader and are on our own now. It's not hard to imagine we're totally and utterly doomed.
My mother's death hangs in my head draping around it completely like a long curtain, a tapestry of sorts. All the memories from childhood, from young adulthood, adulthood and most recently, those six weeks when she faded away in front of my eyes, cruelly, unnecessary, due to shockingly poor medical care, something that hurts to even say during this unprecedented time, where I do indeed see doctors and nurses as the new class heroes. But not the ones who let my mother die. No, they are monsters and I fear they will let far more people just die when the waves of this virus comes crashing down on everyone. I fear for their patients. I will not go into the specifics here. I don't have the stomach for it and it's not the time.
I don't know what's next. The start of 2020, I was planning a wedding with my fiance, who said yes just before Christmas. I was building a new era of a marketing department for a company that I love and respect. I just got back from a sunny and wonderful trip to California. There were good plans in the works. We built wedding playlists with songs for my mother to walk me down the aisle and dance with me to. We were just starting to do well the two of us, not just emotionally and physically, but financially. We were going to go on trips with our dog. Visit friends. Build our family and home. I was recording music for one band and practicing with another. My parents were alive and well, just a quick drive out of town to visit. My sisters were slowly getting better. My nieces building their lives out. There was a path of sorts we were all on. We had a bit of a roadmap to where the future was headed.
Now that's been blown to pieces. There's no more paths. There's just chaos, confusion and darkness. It seems the gods have abandoned me. Abandoned my family. Abandoned the world.
And I shift between pure all-encompassing sorrow and grief that cripples me, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically and furious rage at how this all happened and continues to happen. I can't think straight. I can't see past the moment I'm experiencing. Those now hideous Buddhist noble truths and the first 4 phases of the grieving process thrown in a blender with a pound of my heart for flavor.
I feel selfish in my pain, as I know there are so many others who are in worse shape than I am. There are people going through immense stress and suffering. Countless stories exist, and mine, in some ways is so cliche and pathetic. Who am I to feel this way when there are nurses working 24 hour shifts with no masks, taking care of the dying who are passing their death to them, to take home to their families, who aren't working anymore, who are in the same place as much of us wondering if they will lose their house and everything they've built?
It's moments like this where I would end with some positive twist, some meager, yet poetic attempt at optimism. It's Friday after all. There's a new Pearl Jam album out today. There's other things I know I should be happy and grateful for. But I'm not. Not today. Not now. I want to feel this blackness. This death. I want it to envelope me in it's cold cocoon. I want it to take me with it. Take me far from this place. Where we are eternal spirits without fear, without pain, without suffering. I want to be there right now. Not here. Not anymore.
I hate this world now and all the people in it. Including myself. I hate our ignorance and our inability to transcend this physical reality any more than we have. That we've not yet learned the tricks of immortality all these years into our time. We are still pathetic and weak and stupid and mean. And in the end, none of it really matters anyway.
This is not a cry for help. This is not a warning. Do not fear for my safety. I am not a rash person like I was when I was dumb and younger.
My anger will keep me alive. I have that inherited survival mechanism that my mother had. I won't die without a fight. I have fought my entire life. It is my nature.
But today, I don't have much fight in me. I am weak. I am broken. I am butchered into thousands of pieces. I'm sure, this too, like all things, will pass. And I guess that's all I can hope for on this overcast, chilly spring day. Until then, I will remain functioning as best I can in a world that stopped making sense a long time ago.
Among the most painful realities of witnessing death — one particularly exasperating for type-A personalities — is how swiftly it severs the direct correlation between effort and outcome around which we build our lives. Though the notion might seem rational on the surface — especially in a culture that fetishizes work ethic and “grit” as the key to success — an underbelly of magical thinking lurks beneath, which comes to light as we behold the helplessness and injustice of premature death. Noting that “the mourner’s mind is superstitious, looking for signs and wonders,” O’Rourke captures this paradox:
One of the ideas I’ve clung to most of my life is that if I just try hard enough it will work out. If I work hard, I will be spared, and I will get what I desire, finding the cave opening over and over again, thieving life from the abyss. This sturdy belief system has a sidecar in which superstition rides. Until recently, I half believed that if a certain song came on the radio just as I thought of it, it meant that all would be well. What did I mean? I preferred not to answer that question. To look too closely was to prick the balloon of possibility.
But our very capacity for the irrational — for the magic of magical thinking — also turns out to be essential for our spiritual survival. Without the capacity to discern from life’s senseless sound a meaningful melody, we would be consumed by the noise.
A wonderful take on grieving: https://www.themarginalian.org/2014/06/09/meghan-o-rourke-the-long-goodbye/
Yesterday, a week after my mom passed to the immortal realm of the gods, my company made the difficult, yet wise decision to close down temporarily at the end of the day for the next two and a half weeks. Today I'm waiting to hear from our IT dept as to whether my work laptop can vpn effectively from home and whether my boss even wants me to keep working on my projects or if I should just hit the pause button on my job until this all dies down.
Depending on those two conversations, I'm either going to be lucky enough to work from my home office and keep a much needed paycheck coming in or I'll be joining many of you in the unemployment line and figuring out which bills I can defer this month (and maybe next).
What an insane time we are going through.
PS: if you're one of the people who hoard toilet paper, food, belittle essential workers, ignore social distancing measures, or think old people should die to save the economy, go fuck yourself.
Today I went back to work.
I had to. Since I'm still new there, I haven't built up much pto, so I've had a lot of unpaid time off lately with my mom's descent into a brutal unnecessary death. I won't have enough to cover my portion of my mortgage or most of my bills. I have some savings and credit cards, so I'll figure it out. Yes, we're still going in to work. Manufacturing aren't required closures under the order.
But it's hard to complain since I need the money and at least I still have a job. So far. And hey, at least traffic is better. But it's all different now. The darkness of my mother's death is sinking in like the days after a hideous car crash. Right after it's not so bad, strangely.
But today, trying to be "normal" doing "normal" things in the darkest chapters of American history, at least in my life, well, it was difficult to say the least. My faith in god is gone. My patience with stupidity is shot. My anger is ripe and the shock waves of despair, while less frequent, still hit me like tsunami waves I have no way of dodging. I seize up. Forget what I'm thinking. Get that throw-up feeling of tears well up in my throat again, my eyes fill, my head throbs, and I am crippled, taken right back to those...moments.
When she is in that bed.
Eyes floating around in their brain shattered blindness, seeing nothing. Mouth gaping, gasping for air.
That smell of antiseptic liquids and sickness. Her life slipping away in front of me as I sat there, day after day, night after night, praying to a fucking god that isn't there, that turned their fucking back on us and her, as I was staying positive that she might just wake up. But she's not. She's going to die. Just like you will one day. But not like she's dying. No, she's really dying.
Painlessly they say, giving you the game show buzzer of dilaudin, that you can send into her body every six minutes. They keep adding atavan to relax her shredded, broken mind as she lives through god only fucking knows in that limbo of hell she described before her mind was ripped away. When she could still talk and tell jokes.
And I am frozen at my desk, the dual monitors waiting for my next command and I'm not even there anymore. I'm there. Again. Right there. It's clear as the screens in front of me. And I have to thank well...not god anymore, but maybe my "good" fortune that I still have a job right now. I have to remind myself that this all too shall pass.
Perhaps I will have a better day tomorrow.
All I really know, though, is that tomorrow is a long fucking time from now and I am doing everything in my power to make it to the next minute.
Even the next hour is too far from my ability to process right now. But I'm also lucky to have a beautiful woman and dog and neighbors who brought me whiskey and friends who check in with me even when I don't have the strength or time to reply right away.
And I'm trying now, tonight, to meditate on that.
Because the alternative, well, it's unfathomable.
If the government bails out the airlines who were all buying back their own stock to inflate their rates, then the government can absofuckinglutely cancel all student loans. Or at the very fucking least allow them to be included in bankruptcy. Every other cost a human incurs can be written off in bankruptcy, every business in America can declare bankruptcy, but the ONE bill we can't write off is education.
Think about that for a second.
People who went to college to be more educated, to be a productive member of society, most of whom chose that route because the work they wanted to do, work that could make a living wage...those jobs REQUIRE higher education. Medical staff. Engineers. Scientists. The people who are furiously seeking out a cure or an antidote to this virus. They all require higher education. If something is required, then it should be at the very least, able to be declared in bankruptcy. Especially now. Especially when the vast majority of people working in America who are now sidelined will most likely have to declare bankruptcy.
My very own household of two people, if we were to declare bankruptcy today or this year due to this horrific tragedy befalling on this world, would STILL owe nearly $800 in student loan debt every single month. For decades. And here's the big catch. My parents, grandparents, they weren't crippled by student loan debt. They didn't need higher education to have a decent job.
But that trend changed in the 70s and 80s. A basic 4 year college degree costs $80,000 at the low end now. Forget masters degrees or phds. Its appalling to me that we have made multiple generations of Americans prisoners of their own debt by trying to make something of themselves. The cost of education is beyond acceptable. It is continuing a trench between the haves and the have nots and it needs to stop.
We should be ashamed of ourselves. We should all be fucking ashamed.
It's time to end student debt. Or at least allow it in bankruptcy.
Th US government is pumping $1T per DAY into the banks as we speak.
Not week or month.
In one and a half days of bank bailout, boom.
All student debt could be absolved.
Millions of Americans immediately have hundreds or thousands of dollars PER MONTH back into their bank accounts. For GOOD. Not for a month. Forever.
And at the same time, we must continue forth with temporary financial distribution to every single American (legal or otherwise), as well as increases in unemployment, food and healthcare assistance too for every month this goes on. Especially those literally contracting this fucking virus.
And if the banks want to avoid an actual revolution, they will absolve all debt during the window of time this has taken hold, from the inception of this virus to the end of it. I'm not talking delaying or forebearing so it can balloon out and rupture the very fabric of our society as it works to piece itself back from ruin. I'm talking about nothing due.
They're getting their bailout.
They will be just fine.
Let's fight for the rest of us who aren't so fortunate. Who have already and may soon lose the job we live paycheck to paycheck on. Let's stand up for ourselves and each other and not let politics play out as usual, where we all get fucked with the wink and handshake that "everything's fine" while the rich do a little bit better, like always.
Unless we hold the fools who run our government accountable, the fools who have the keys to the solutions, we know they won't address these matters and take this stance or one like it. And if that's the case, it's my belief that all of them, every last one of them, yet again before the gods and humankind, are worth literally less than TOILET PAPER right now.
Took a few days off to mourn and reflect on my mother's life. Forced myself out of the house to get some much needed time in the trees today. It's where I feel closest to the Divine. Took Kea and the dog to hike up by the hospital where she passed. It's a beautiful place with the city below and Mt Hood in the distance. But going up the mountain you can get lost in the forest where I am most at home. I swear I could feel my mom in the gentle breeze...
Carla Jean Larisey Sundberg passed through the akashic field to the immortal realm of the gods yesterday. My father and I were with her as she took her last human breath at 4:10pm PT, which just so happens to be my father's birthday (4:10 = April 10). I still can't believe she has left this mortal coil. But I can already feel her presence around me protecting me.
I love you forever mom. I'll see you again one day.
Until then, I hope you are enjoying the new freedom and those beautiful new wings.
Dad told me he wanted my mom to go out in style. He didn't want her to rot away in some fucking nursing home. It's no Florida beach, but it will have to do. At least my mom's room has a nice view of a pretty mountainside, as she prepares for her journey into the next world. I love you forever mom. I'm gonna fucking miss you.
As we prepare the final days with my mother this weekend and a global pandemic has begun, I was nervous going to see Tool last night in Portland. It just felt...wrong.
But my mother would have told me to go so we grit our teeth and went. I'm glad I did. It may be one of the last concerts in Oregon for awhile.
Shortly after the show, the governor declared a statewide shut down of all large gatherings of 250 or more for the next 4 weeks. My friends down in Eugene weren't so lucky as the show was cancelled tonight due to the order.
I'm very sorry for them, some whom flew back home to see this show.
The world has become a rather terrifying place all of a sudden.
"Contagion, I exhale you...Bless this immunity." @ Moda Center at the Rose Quarter
Today our family meets with the doctors to determine whether we continue my mom's care, subjecting her to a tracheotomy to continue her ventilator, possibly sending her to a skilled nursing facility and continue to hope she wakes up or whether this is all a long, painful extension of a life that may not worth living. She had no advanced directive, and there are conflicting "wishes" of hers, including her last words to me that she wasn't going to give up. But depending on the meeting today, we may be very limited to what we can actually do. She needs to have her remaining adrenal gland removed due to a rare tumor that may have been the source for everything that has happened to her, but her body cannot withstand a surgery and it would mean a level of care that is far more profound than possible. There are many other factors I can't discuss here, but I've never experienced something so brutal, so agonizing and so soul-crushing as what we are looking at. I'm not sure how to process all of this. I rely on my sister, father and fiance for guidance and wisdom, but we are all suffering the same dilemma. I don't know what to ask for, what to say or why I'm posting this, other than for my own sort of catharsis and perhaps because maybe someone out there has endured something like this and has advice (if so please feel free to just message me rather than spill your heart on this thread). I'm broken. I'm confused. I struggle to focus and concentrate. I can't sleep. I am losing this war. I may be losing my mother, the most important person in my life, the woman who gave me life, who raised me to be the man I am and who has been there for me through all of my tragedies and misfortunes. I love you more than I can ever express Carla Sundberg. I hope we can make sense of this and I hope if we can bring you back to life, it is worth the battle. And if we can't, I hope you know we fucking tried. And I love you forever.
**Update on Mom from my sister Shannon with a request for prayers. Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs are, we kindly ask you to use our collective power of prayer, meditation, the force, Law of Attraction, or whatever works for you to send some of that healing power my mom's way. The hour is late, the situation is dire, and we are quite possibly looking at the last chance to save her life. Yesterday we had a meeting with doctors about her condition and we are moving to transition of life conversations. But we still remain hopeful as we have already seen a number of miraculous events with this. The fact that she is still alive despite what she's endured is a testament to that fact, admitted to by medical staff as well. Please friends, family, I never ask for anything, but today I simply ask you to read this post, and keep her in your thoughts and focus on healing her stomach.**
"In the next week, we pray my mothers gut heals, from the damage done when her blood pressure dropped after her last heart attack. This is critical, because now she cannot be on the feeding tube and has to be fed via IV. You can only be fed via IV for a few weeks, before risk of further infection and other complications ensue.
She also requires water through a feeding tube, to balance out the alkalinity and acidosis that is affecting her breathing and causing the need for the ventilator. Everything completely hinges now, on her gut healing in the next week. If this heals, those other things have a chance to resolve, whereby a chance for her to come out of her coma.
My father suspects the coma is related to the bodies way of reserving all autonomic functions for the rest of the body to stay alive. The doctor said she has had numerous small strokes on different part of her brain and one in the visual cortex, so she may be blind, now. It is unclear if that too can heal. But for now, there hasn't been a brain stem stroke, so there is hope she can heal from the others.
Pray in the miraculous name of Raphael, archangel of healing, that her gut be fully restored and healed with the support of Jesus Christ's name. Christ has reported to perform many miracles and still does to this day. I have bore witness to my own and others, to solidify this fact. I will not give up, as the Will of God always prevails and will for my mother. There will be nothing to stop that. So, for now, the Will of God has enabled her to survive two rounds of sepsis, two heart attacks, congestive heart failure, full systemic organ failure and multiple seizures and mini-strokes. She is already a miracle and God's ability to perform them know no bounds; we must call to him to continue to perform them for Carla.
Let us all pray, in the perfect miraculous benevolent name of Jesus Christ, for the restoration of Carla Sundberg's lower intestine to be fully formed, healed and soothed by the hand of Christ's spoken name. All of us, here and now, call upon him together to heal her, in total love, hope and unity. It is in the power of focused energy, that manifests to Christ, with the same cause and vibration. It is why mass prayer has facilitated in acts of miracles.
To this day, many churches and believers witness it. My mother is not an exemption, but a current living, breathing proof of this.
Let us pray. Amen."
Today is day 21 of my mom in the hospital. She has not been able to speak or move, nor has she had any neurological reaction since last Sunday. She has almost died multiple times and every 4 hours is a new diagnosis that mystifies the neuro ICU ward at OHSU, but they, like her, and the rest of our family, have not given up the fight. My dad and I have shared daily visiting duties as she battles for her life.
I have made an oath to donate as much blood as I can for the rest of my days so that I can save another mother's life, since she has received 5 units (over a liter) now due to a lower GI bleed that has since last night at least, been constantly bleeding. Docs can't inspect or operate due to the fragile condition she is in. Really any surgery that is necessary will be fatal at this point.
She is on a ventilator, feeding tubes (now intravenous due to the bleeding) and MRIs have shown significant (yet impermanent) cellular damage in her brain as well as several mini strokes. Possible causes are blood clots from the heart, shock, sepsis, high blood pressure or any combination of those. There are many more details I'm just too tired to write about here.
Some good news is that her vitals have finally seemed to stabilize, there are no signs of infection, no organ failure, no fevers, very little meds. Last night I spoke to her for a couple hours and I swear she could hear me and physically responded to significant things I told her. Nurses and doctors said it was simply coincidence and reflex, not conscious movement or reaction.
I refuse to believe that now. Her soul is in there, trapped in that monkey suit with her wiring all fucked up. She's in there. I know it. Tonight, her eyes moved more, reacting to bright lights by closing them, and yet again agitation when we brought up significant events.
I pray to Raphael to bring her healing and wisdom for the medical staff.
This is a physical, mental and spiritual battle for life itself. I am not leaving her side. I am not giving up on my mother.
We've come too far.
Who Am I?
I am Ahab.