It was one of those warm, sunny, fall Colorado Sundays when my mom called and told me “Michael has been in a bicycle accident. We are at Good Samaritan. I have to go.” Instantly my mind went to the e-bike that he had purchased recently, as we talked about how dangerous it could possibly be. When I talked to my mom again, she told me that he crashed in the neighborhood riding back from the gym. Nothing dangerous at all! Michael was a lifelong cyclist, but just a few weeks earlier we had noticed scrapes on his face from falling on the bike. He said he had slipped on a puddle, and we were all grateful that he always wore a helmet.
“Right now he has no feeling in his left arm,” I heard her say. Unfortunately, I was stressed and heard wrong. It was the opposite. He ONLY had feeling in his left arm. This quickly spiraled into a very serious situation that finally left him needing a ventilator to breathe. The chaplain made it clear to us that it was ok to let him go, but more importantly, Michael wanted to go. On September 23rd in the early morning with my mom by his side and many of us staring at the sky praying for a quick release, he passed on. At home we played “Fearless” by Pink Floyd, a song and band we had listened to so many times with him when hanging out.
Suddenly the October we had looked so forward to that was filled with Phish Fall Tour shows didn’t sound so thrilling, but with the insistence of my mom telling me that it would be good for me and my husband, we followed through with our plans to see the band in Sacramento, Phoenix, and Chula Vista.
The shows did in fact do me a world of good, and armed with those good vibes under my belt, we traveled on to the Thunderdome – the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas for the Halloween run. As soon as we hit the ground the place was abuzz with chirping Phish phans, and suddenly I felt trapped. Gone were the easy, lazy desert pavilions and ocean breezes. There were people walking in every direction, the longest lines I have ever seen no matter where you went and when you tried to go, and as I started to lose my breath in the halls of the MGM that first night I realized I was about to have a panic attack.
We quickly went back up to our room at the Signature where I went out onto the balcony and cried and cried. I was so raw, and my sensory issues were at full volume. As I was crying and wondering if I was even going to be able to go to the show, an image of Michael’s face popped into my head and he said “I want you to have a good time.” A huge weight lifted, and suddenly I felt calm and at peace. Back downstairs at the arena, the lines had cleared out and we went into the show and had a great time.
Two nights later during the animals show, “I Am the Walrus” started and my heart felt like a lump in my throat. When my stepdad was dating my mom, he bought me the entire Beatles catalog, winning my friendship and cultivating my lifelong love of rock and roll. I could feel Michael right there with me as the song played, and just as the image of his face popped into my head, Trey said “Hello, how are you? We hope you have a good time” from the stage.
It was one of those moments where I felt like the entire history of my universe went into fast-forward and everything collectively met right at this exact moment – it was maybe the most naturally psychedelic moment of my life. It felt like a message straight from my stepdad himself, and now every time I listen to that song it is like hanging out with Michael.
“Hello, how are you” starting around 3:18: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvB8jsyGCQg&ab_channel=GregoryMarcus