A few weeks ago, on my first hunt and while waiting for Mike to finish setting up a tree stand, Nic asked me, “Why do you make the podcast?” He was curious, thinking there to be a master plan behind the madness.
I responded, “To make it.”
Mostly, the reasons I make the podcast are selfish. It gives me a reason to sit down with an interesting human for a few hours every two weeks. To have a conversation where we dive into issues and ideas that are not normally discussed.
However, I release the interviews for selfless reasons. I don’t know why people listen to these conversations. Maybe they want to hear a friend they haven’t seen for years, and these prompts allow that. Maybe they are curious and want to hear a new person’s wisdom on the subject. Maybe they are lonely and want to hear two people talk honestly about some difficult subjects. I don’t know.
I wish I had a closer relationship with my listeners. The reasons why people listen to the podcast are completely separate from the reasons why I make the podcast. I like it this way. I don’t try to give people what they want because I don’t know what they want. Frankly, I don’t care too much. I do my work and if people want to participate, they can.
Additionally, during this conversation with Nic, he echoed something that my partner said. Mackenzi mentioned this to me after listening to Doug M’s interview. Nic, after listening to Lucy Horton’s episode.
They both said that this project seems important. Not sure why or for what purpose, but that there is something deeply valuable about this collected body of interviews. To both, I bashfully accepted the compliment without further consideration.
That is, until Alana.
I interviewed Alana about six months ago, while still living in Tampa but on my way out. She was a human that I really wanted to sit down with before leaving for Pennsylvania. A lovely conversation: she had a truly unique spin on the four prompts.
Then more recently through social media, I found that she had been in a horrific car accident and critically injured. As of writing, she is on Day#18 of her ICU stay, recovering both from her physical trauma as well as the illnesses associated with advanced airways and prolonged hospital admissions. She has not yet regained consciousness.
Her facebook wall has become an intangible shrine and place of gathering for her friends and family. Folks post words of encouragement and her mother posts regular updates of her condition. A few days ago, her mother posted her On Death interview for others to hear.
Traffic spiked to the page: ten times as many people visited in the following days than had visited in the six months since the interview was posted. For those close to her and wishing to hear her voice once again, what a way to listen to her words when she is struggling to stay alive. You literally hear what she wants when she dies. What she wants after she dies. You hear her address you, the listener, and she speaks to you directly.
After reading about Alana and her family, I agree without reservation. This work is important, I just don’t know why.
I have a number of interesting interviews lined up in the near future. A friend who faced death at the barrel of a gun. An incredibly skilled physician nearing retirement. A fourth year medical student with a dream for surgery.
I’m not really sure what I am documenting with all these interviews. I don’t know if I ever will. But, I feel that whatever value will compound with great interest as time progresses. Perhaps I’ll finally figure out update episodes with interviewees years or decades after the first pass at the four prompts. Maybe I can interview Alana in a year’s time. Maybe I’ll interview her mother after such a harrowing experience.
For now, I will simply chop the wood and carry the water.
Please consider donating to Alana’s GoFundMe to help allay the costs associated with such a prolonged and demanding hospital admission.
Long Form Sundays
- On a letter from past self and to future self
- On my love for the physical exam (or halfway through Neuro/Psych)
- On “Jim” (or a well-deserved death)
10 thoughts on “On Death, revisited”
I am not sure if you realized this but the day you wrote this clip 10-29-17 and said she was still in coma /icu was also the day she came out of her coma. What she didn’t mention in her latest interview was 2 very important things.
Before I share these items I want to say I truly believe there is no such thing as “coincidence”
1) I knew when Alana came to see me that last Sunday that something horrible was going to happen. Her sister & I felt this impending deep knowledge of doom that was upon her for over a month. When she came in the door & hugged me I pulled away & started uncontrollably crying telling her that I didn’t know why but I was really scared for her & that something really bad was going to happen. She pulled away & said “ don’t worry mama I have too much to do in this life & I am not going anywhere”. Tears poured down my face & THAT is what I hung onto for 18 days of her coma.
2) On day 18 of her awakening- I was sitting by her bedside holding her hand talking to her. I knew she could hear me & I looked down at our hands & re- shared the story of our last hour together & how she told me “she wasn’t going anywhere”
As I spoke these words she started caressing my hands & her fingertips moved gently around my wrists! Her reflexes had allowed her to move eyelids & fingers slightly on occasion. Caressing my wrists definitely was intentional & I looked up & she opened her eyes. My eyes filled with happy tears. I looked at her and said “Alana is that really you?” “If you know it’s mommy blink your eyes” & she did!
THE HAPPIEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE HAD JUST OCCURED! I ran to the ICU Nurse, Daniel for him to confirm she had indeed started to come out of her coma.
As a parent, this was by far the most difficult thing I have ever had to endure. You get through it minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week.
(Alana Karma’s mother)
Thank you for the comment! What a profound coincidence that is hard to deny. If you are interested, I would love to interview you for the podcast, too!!