A Story of Nurses

An immersive, audio-driven, essay film that bears witness to the experiences of nurses providing care to Covid19 patients at the beginning of the pandemic 

In May of 2021, I invited nurses who were providing care on the frontlines of the pandemic to share their stories with me. It was a big request, and I knew it. Though the pandemic had been underway for over a year, many had not begun to process all they had experienced.

From May through September, I recorded ten hours of stories from the nurses who agreed to participate. They worked in the ER, ICU, and Covid units of hospitals in a variety of states in the U.S. This film bears witness to the experiences they shared with me.

The voices of the nurses themselves narrate the story. The visuals are intended to support the viewer in listening deeply and engaging with the emotions of the experiences, rather than illustrate them literally with images of hospital rooms, masks, and ventilators that have become all-too-prevalent in our news streams.

I created this project as a service offering for a year-long program I participated in through Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The support of my collegial cohort led by Roshi Joan Halifax was steadfast as I sought to figure out my path into story as an act of bearing witness to suffering.

Through my MFA studies at California Institute of Integral Studies, I had opportunities to workshop the film as it was in progress and benefitted greatly from the insights of my fellow students, artists in an array of different disciplines. Crafting the visuals for the film was my greatest challenge, and I am especially indebted to the visual artists in the group who helped me learn their ways of seeing their art and coached me in applying those principles to mine.

I send my profound gratitude to all who helped me along the way, most especially to the nurses who entrusted their stories to me.

Love is Up to the Challenge

“Just as people have eyes to see light with and ears to hear sounds with, so they have hearts for the appreciation of time.”— Michael Ende

If you are skittish about the topic of death, then stop reading this post right now. Or better yet, don’t. I used to be one of those people, superstitious that talk of death would draw it nearer somehow. Yet, when one of my closest friends was diagnosed with terminal cancer, it became a topic I could not avoid. And guess what? I found out that talking about death could actually be a very life affirming act.

I’ve been reminded of this irony recently by a friend of a friend of mine, a man I never met but whose forthright manner of living with and ultimately dying from ALS has inspired and touched me since I first heard his story. When my friend Barbara McAfee asked me to create a video of her song about her friend Jamie Showkeir, I had no idea I’d be drawn so completely into his story that I’d feel I knew him personally. (more…)