Saturday July 13th at 2:30 pm
Steelmantown Natural Burial Ground
101 Steelmantown Rd.
Woodbine, NJ 08270
We will be honoring Mike with texts he and others have written in his spiritual vein, talking about what he meant to us and the person he was, burning candles and sage, and laying him to rest in a meadow facing a woodland in a natural burial ground. He will be wrapped in a shroud without any embalming and given directly back to the earth in the manner he wanted.
Please let me know if you are planning to attend.
***If you are going to be honoring Mike with a spiritual ceremony from afar, please wait to tell us about your plans until Saturday, as this post is to facilitate organizing attendees.***
We couldn't get flights out until tomorrow due to inclement weather in NJ, so Kathie and I are using today to meet with the local funeral home who will be handing Mike's transportation out of state.
For New Jersey/Pennsylvania and beyond people, Mike's funeral will be on Saturday at the Steelmantown Cemetery in Woodbine, NJ. It's South Jersey. Anyone who knew and loved him is welcome to attend. More details to come. Still trying to figure out the pagan service...
July 7, 1:00 AM CDT
Michael has passed.
July 6, 8:00 PM CDT
We've had a meeting with Mike's attending physician. His brain function is severely impaired and not expected to improve. His quality of life, were it to be prolonged, would not resemble what he would have wanted for himself under any circumstances. Mike seemed to be telling us on Thursday to let him go. With the support of the medical team keeping him comfortable, we're now trying to honor what we believe he was asking of us and what we know he would want for himself given who he is.
In a few days, we will be bringing him back to New Jersey. We almost have enough to cover the eco-friendly, pagan burial he wanted, and hopefully will be able to get over the final financial hurdle for that in the coming days. We will keep everyone posted with those details.
My mother, my sister and I really can't thank everyone enough for the well wishes, the hoping and the good vibes, the prayers from those who pray, and the general support and love we have received. Mike touched a lot of people in a lot of great ways. He's an unforgettable person. We will carry him always in our hearts.
July 6, 7:00 AM CDT
Mike made it through his first night off the respirator and seems to be breathing a bit better on his own. His temperature has come down to almost normal.
He seems to be opening eyes a bit more, seemed to be trying to talk to me at two points this morning already, but isn't following commands. I thought he smiled a couple of times, too.
We're trying to be hopeful yet realistic, while respecting his will if we can ascertain it. He was without oxygen for 10 minutes, so a brain injury is pretty likely, and we're just waiting to see if he's going to wake up in a fuller way.
Thank you everyone for caring and also for understanding when we're overwhelmed and don't want to communicate. I don't wish this experience on anyone. Last night I was filled with a rage I could not release. Today's a new day.
July 5, 11:00 PM CDT
Update from Jodi:
It's very hard to write an update after today, but I'll try. Mike is breathing off the respirator but laboring and weak. He hasn't been following commands since Wednesday or opened his eyes with any purpose. He thrashes a bit but doesn't seem to make deliberate movements as much. Waiting to speak with the doctor tomorrow. His temperature is still down. The antibiotics seem to be working. He's getting local anesthetic on his mouth to ease any possible tooth pain. That's all I can think to say at the moment. Please understand that right now we might not respond to personal messages as the situation is as unbearable as you might expect.
July 5, 7:00 AM CDT
Temperature down one degree. Not dangerous anyway, since he's in the best possible place for a low-grade fever and the body needs to do that to fight.
Solo breathing exercise begun with the aim of taking the respirator out.
He seems a bit more alert. He was communicating with head shakes yesterday and last night. Today when I arrived he was looking at me and lifting my hand. We'd like him to wake up and express himself and his wishes more clearly.
Mike, this is the worst game of hide and seek you've ever played. Also, only you could make a morning person out of me. I love you with all my heart, no matter what.
July 4, 2:00 CDT
A little bit less positive overall, but nothing dire.
While Mike did well breathing on his own with the respirator off this morning, he hasn't been very active. We think that he exerted himself a lot yesterday afternoon, and the doctor said that sometimes when you have a lot of progress in one day, the following day looks like a setback while energy resources are rebuilt.
Despite the positive breathing exercise, the decision was made to wait another day before removing the respirator to let him get more strength, and we agree with that. I found him to be somewhat down, somewhat listless today. I think he's feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by the slowness of this process, sick of being immobile and dependent on machines, and depressed about the state he finds himself in and its causes.
We're just not getting a lot of activity or responses from him. Another concerning issue is his body temperature, which is rising. He has a low-grade fever. There's an abscessed tooth in his mouth that may be the cause of it. I felt concerned to make sure he doesn't have a blood infection, because "sepsis" had been mentioned to me by a resident over the weekend when the picture being painted was very bleak.
If he's fighting some kind of infection with a temperature that is rising, we can't expect him to be doing his best with breathing on his own. There's a definite negative change from yesterday to today. Following the voicing of this concern, blood and urine have been drawn to do a culture and a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics administered. They had a fan on him last night because his temp was 100.4, and now it's 101.3. We don't like that. We're hoping to get that brought down and letting him rest, playing him soft music and talking to him in the meantime.
Maybe I haven't given an update yet today for that reason. We're trying to stay positive while keeping him the focus of our love and attention. Thanks again to everyone for caring so much.
July 3, 11:30 PM CDT
The doc was pleased with Mike's solo breathing today. He put him back on the respirator just to give him a rest. We'll retest solo again tomorrow morning, and if it goes well again, the respirator comes out.
This has been emotional for him as well as us. He had tears both when I sang a song he and I used to play together and when my father talked to him through the phone tonight. He has had tears at other moments, too.
The physical therapists came and worked his limbs. They'll be back on Friday.
His girlfriend was always playing him music before we came, and we sang and rocked out with him today as well. He held my sister's and my hand and lifted them and pulled them back and forth in the air to the music, dancing with us and showing us how well he can do after being a little sluggish with the physical therapists.
He turns to me when I talk to him and seems to look at me as well. He's still very weak, but we have increasing signs that he's in there and coming around.
We remain very enthusiastic about the staff. American Airlines is being quite decent about the plane tickets, and we've informed the hotel we won't be checking out tomorrow.
We also continue to be moved by the moral and financial support pouring in. Knowing people care and that we can make decisions based on what's right in the situation rather than being overridden by monetary woes is an incalculable gift, and we owe that to you. Thank you.
For the people writing personally, give us a minute to get a minute, and we'll catch up eventually. We've been devoting all of our time to him.
July 3, 2:00 PM CDT
So right now, we're trying to get Mike breathing on his own. He's got oxygen, but the respirator is off. We're weaning him from dependence on it with the hope of removing the tube tomorrow. We keep telling him his volume of air as he takes his own breaths, and he responds to encouragement by trying to do more. Also, he's off all pain medication and sedation to get him to really wake up. Very positive signs.
July 3, 7:00 AM CDT
I'm frankly amazed by this hospital. My brother couldn't be in better hands. A young nurse explained to me last night that the medical staff had given up hope over the weekend, because he was mostly stable but slipping backwards on several indices, but that Sunday night, he started battling and making a series of improvements. These continued on Monday. Now they have hope, and you can see how happy it makes them. I'm so glad we all live far away and are broke, because I shudder to think what may have happened if we had been there on Sunday to follow the advice we had at the time.
Nevertheless, I have never seen people more thoroughly committed to patient care. I see into people pretty quickly, and I have not met one doctor, nurse, or nurse's assistant here whose heart isn't totally in this. The ways they talk to Mike and to us, the ways they touch him and care for him, I can't imagine a better environment for him right now. It means everything to the family. His girlfriend has been great about everything, too.
Today I'm going to call American Airlines and ask them to be flexible about our tickets. We will also need laundry facilities if we're to stay longer. There's a possibility of "living" in the ICU lounge in order not to dispense too much on housing. This first night in a hotel was essential to our bodies. I slept 7 hours in a row for the first time since last Wednesday. My mom and sister are still sleeping. On the airplane, they say you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help others, and we're trying to keep that in mind.
July 2, 4:15 PM CDT
Mike squeezed both my hands a moment ago and lifted one in his.
July 2, 2:30 PM CDT
In the last day while we were traveling to Madison and out of touch with the medical staff, thinking we were going to turn off life support, my brother started showing signs of improvement.
We don't know what it means and I feel pretty overwhelmed by the paradigm shift, but we have better liver and kidney function, some signs of purposeful movement, no more need for blood pressure medication, and they're stopping the seizure medication because they now think the twitching is withdrawal, not brain seizures.
A while ago he blinked twice when I asked him to and has seemed to be trying to look at me when I talk to him. We have been showering him with love and affection and passing him all your messages. He's breathing a little bit over the respirator, and we're hoping his breathing will get stronger, so we can remove the tube, which he very clearly hates.
That said, it's still not known whether there's any lasting brain damage or how conscious he is, but the signs of physical progress are pretty remarkable, and I honestly can't get my head around the difference a day made. The future is still very uncertain. We were meant to go back to New Jersey for a weekend funeral, and now we need to stay in Wisconsin to wait this out. The funds donated have brought his family to him. Kathie, his other sister, lands imminently (and is as pleased and shocked by the news as my mom and I). His dad spoke to him over the phone, and Mike seemed to be hearing him. We need to continue our stay in the hotel and we will use funds for that.
To be honest, I was almost belligerent with the new attending physician because what I was told Sunday versus today is so different that my sleep-deprived brain was ready to fight someone. I couldn't process the new information. I had been making all the arrangements to transport and bury my brother, while losing my shit by turns, and now there seems to be some reason for hope.
That said, we really don't know if he's out of the woods, and any recovery would be very long (starting with a long stay in a nursing home) and possibly to probably not full anyway, but there's a glimmer of light here that the medical staff wasn't foreseeing only two days ago.
Thank you everyone for all of your messages of love and monetary support. A funeral is not yet out of the question, but it's on hold as we learn more. Now we're waiting to see if the progress continues, and especially if he will wake up and have meaningful communication.
Big, big love to all of you for caring so much and showing us that. I can't overstate how much it has meant and continues to mean.
A note from the organizer: I will continue to keep the non-Facebook users in the loop by posting any new information here and sending you an update email. Apologies for the block of text that you may have received. All of that information has been copied and pasted above, with much clearer formatting.
Monday Morning Update and a Change: The fundraiser to help Jodi say good-bye to Mike has been going well and we are so grateful for everyone’s support. Jodi is surprised and overwhelmed by the generosity that has been shown in the form of donations from current and old friends alike.
As the situation has evolved, we've learned what it will take to lay him to rest, and the family was anything but prepared for the sums.
Jodi has plane tickets to Newark for tonight. She will be picking up her mom and heading to Wisconsin and they will be with Mike by Tuesday morning. Jodi has found cheaper plane tickets thanks to a friend in the airline industry, and she has organized her mom's travel to Madison. She hopes to include her sister Kathie among the beneficiaries of this fundraiser, so that Mike’s immediate family will be present when he passes on. His father is heartbroken but unable to travel for health reasons. Mike’s girlfriend will cover the family’s accommodations in Wisconsin when they arrive.
Step one of this process has been a success, which is why we’ve decided to extend the GoFundMe to help with the financial challenge of transporting Michael’s person from Wisconsin to New Jersey and giving him a respectful pagan burial. Jodi is working with Steelmantown Cemetery Company who do ecological, all-natural burials. Natural burials are far less expensive than traditional ones but it is still an enormous burden for the family without your help.
Here is what we’re looking at:
$644 Jodi to the US and back to France
$2,010 Jodi and Mom to WI and back to NJ
$825 Kathie to WI and NJ
$1,750 to move Mike’s person to New Jersey
$2,750 handling in NJ
$4,000 natural cemetery burial
These costs now total to $11,325.
We have changed the fundraising goal to $11,500 to cover the above costs and any surprises. We have already raised over $4,200 of the total amount and we are so, so very grateful for everyone’s contributions. But for Michael to be properly and respectfully laid to rest, we need to find more.
In Jodi’s words: “We are desperately trying to raise money to transport and bury him because otherwise we're faced with leaving him once he passes. That's where things are at. Affection at this time is unfortunately measured in monetary contribution, no matter how small, because the practical problem posed is so intractable. I had no idea this would be so costly, and it happened at the worst time for my family's financial condition. I'm either laying my brother to rest as he would have wished or leaving him in a hospital morgue.”
Thank you for your support, for your donations, and for sharing this GoFundMe with anyone you know who might want to pitch in.
Original Post: I'm writing this because we have Jodi Masley as a mutual friend. On June 27, Jodi’s brother Mike was rushed to the hospital after a cardiac incident. Mike is now in critical care, his condition is worsening, and his medical team wishes to discuss taking him off life support. Jodi hasn’t seen Mike in a long time, and she wants so much to be there to say good-bye.
To me, Jodi has been a true and supportive friend and I know that she and Mike have both been through a lot. It would be a shame if Mike passed on without his sister by his side.
You probably know that Jodi lives in France and you might not know that Mike is in Wisconsin. With the summer travel season upon us, last-minute international flights are extremely expensive. The flight alone will cost around $3,000, plus she’ll need funds for room and board. Jodi doesn’t have that kind of money. To help with the costs, I've created a GoFundMe, which you can view here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-fly-jodi-home-to-say-goodbye-to-her-brother&rcid=r01-156184894812-aeb94791ad434ff1&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w
Jodi needs to get to Wisconsin as soon as possible. Anything you can contribute to help take this financial stress off her shoulders is greatly appreciated.
If you could support my GoFundMe by making a donation and then sharing it with your network, I would greatly appreciate it. I know that money can be tight, so please know that even $5 will help us get closer to helping Jodi see Mike one last time. Thank you for your support and please keep Jodi and her family in your thoughts.
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