phil-elverum

GENEVIÈVE ELVERUM fundraiser

www.gofundme.com/elverum

Here is a thing I wrote:

Before I met her I carried around my love in a different way than I do now.  I used to walk around with my love held out in front of me, eager to show it off, singing about the details of every powerful personal experience, blabbing about places and dates, naming names, all in service to my high ideas about true authentic expression and powerful art.  
After I met her I didn’t feel that way anymore.  The love we shared felt like a whole new category of human phenomenon, possibly never experienced by anyone anywhere, ever.  The idea of displaying it for strangers felt obscene and perverse.  It was too good for that, it felt too important.  Whatever priorities I’d previously placed on “authentic art” were superseded by this way more powerful personal thing.  
We gradually built a bubble around our real everyday selves and the details of our life together.  Being both semi-public semi-known artists and musicians, we were participants in the constant self promotion and personality-making that comes with those roles, and we knew that it was time to think about where to draw the line, eventually settling into a comfortable ambiguity, not touring together anymore, not putting our names on each others’ things so much, not denying anything either, just not being all loud about our love.  I mean, just on a basic local level, we didn’t exactly walk down the street kissing.  Just as people we are not the p.d.a. types and our affection took place in private.  Seeing us hug was rare.  On the outside perhaps we resembled platonic housemates, but we were passionate and deeply in love, quiet and powerful.

Now things are happening within our bubble that compel us to adjust these boundaries, to let whoever in, and ask for help.  The cocoon phase is over.  Here are the specifics:

I met Geneviève in 2003 at a time when I wasn’t particularly aiming to fall in love.  I was happy to just be a solo wandering dude doing my thing.  We met and it was instant.  Each of us felt like we’d found our person.  No question.  After some international border confusion and many trips back and forth to Vancouver Island, she moved to Anacortes and we got married.  Some of our friends were freaked out by the speed of all this, while those who’d met us both understood.  The connection was clear.  Two people found each other from across a universe.  
So it’s been 12 years of all kinds of projects and adventures and love. We collaborated a lot, but mostly we existed as 2 sovereign creative maniacs, not butting in too much to each others’ projects, and mostly keeping quiet about who we were married to.  
We wanted a baby the whole time, pretty much from day one, but it just didn’t happen.  There were some years of frustration and sadness but probably not to the huge existential degree that some people have it.   We always both had so much going on that it didn’t seem like the end of the world to continue devoting so much time to these art and music projects.  In early 2014 we’d both found some kind of peace and acceptance of the idea of a childless future, and maybe even positivity about the possibilities that would bring, but then she was pregnant all of a sudden.  
Our daughter was born in January of 2015.  The secrecy around all this was extra intense.  No pictures on the internet, don’t tell anyone, it’s private and too special, maintain the boundaries.  Even now I don’t want to say her name.  She is the physical embodiment of our special private love for each other so of course we’d be protective of the details.  
Then 4 months after having a baby Geneviève went to the doctor for a regular check up, mentioning some abdominal pain, no biggie.  There were some extra questions and an ultrasound and a CT scan, triggering some googling and some worrying at home, but she was 34 years old with a ridiculously healthy lifestyle, so the worries were minor.  Then the lighting bolt:

Advanced pancreatic cancer, stage 4, inoperable, chemotherapy ASAP, “do you want to talk to the chaplain?”, get the wills in order, etc.  

What the fuck?  No family history of cancer, never smoked or drank, mostly vegetarian, so much organic food, big water drinker, young, a profoundly good person.  It felt like conclusive proof of the absence of god.  We agonized over the logic.  How could this be true?  It is preposterous.  It’s so stupidly illogical and wrong.  How could it actually be happening, but then each morning we awoke to the same world where it was indeed happening.
(To get perspective on the intensity of this particular cancer, it might be worth looking it up for a minute.  It has a vicious reputation and pretty brutal statistics.)
Gradually the existential questioning faded into the grinding logistics of appointments, insurance, bottle feeding, diet questions, acupuncture, therapy, baby care, laundry, money worries, trying to keep the floor clean, trying to keep the house warm, maintaining the basics.  There is simply no time to ponder the big questions right now.  There are diapers to deal with.

We’ve already long since adjusted our bubble boundaries locally and have received so much crucial help from friends and family, as well as remote support from distant friends.  So much love has been beamed our way in the form of meditations and thoughts and prayers and mail and things and money.  All of this is so necessary and huge.  It’s strange to remember our earlier attitudes about preserving the boundaries at all costs.  Even though we are essentially the same hermit weirdos, we need the support and the priorities have massively shifted.

Now we make the broad public announcement and plea for money because we can’t take it anymore.  The savings have been depleted and financial worry creeps in as the inability to do anything resembling “work” continues indefinitely.  

Existence is officially confirmed to be surreal and totally absurd. Thank you for loving and supporting us and each other in this ridiculous whirlwind, sloppily surfing on messed up waves, all of us.  

Phil Elverum
June 1st, 2016