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‘i only miss you’ asks how we go on in the face of unbearable loss


One of the films that is attracting lots of buzz at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is i only miss you when I’m breathing. It depicts a devastated wife and husband who are bombarded by friends and neighbors who want them to re-join the human race following a school shooting that killed their only son. The film’s plot and characters are inspired by the true life story of Nashville country singer/songwriter Freddy Weller and his wife Pippy. Lori Fischer and country star Phil Vassar star.

i only miss you when i’m breathing follows Nora and Warren as they try to move forward after the death of their son. As Nora struggles to get out of bed and relieve her unquenchable thirst, her husband Warren struggles to re-enter the workforce. Sadly, he’s not even able to leave the driveway.

Meanwhile, the outside world demands that the couple rejoin the human race at the same pace they once ran. Then, for the first time since their son Brandon was killed in a school shooting, they enter his room. Time stops. They remember Brandon laughing as he played the drums, which leads to Nora remembering Brandon’s last voicemail. She hits play and as the sound of gunfire rages in the background, Brandon tells his parents he loves them and assures them he will be fine.

In the hopes of containing her grief, Nora then asks Warren if he’ll go with her to buy storage containers. She wants to put all Brandon’s things into neat little piles with a lid on top.

Warren asks her if the containers are big enough to put in the house, the front and back yard and the sidewalk where they taught their son to ride a bike. “No,” Nora says, but she has to try to find a way to contain her sorrow.asks ho

At the store, Nora bumps into a friend who offers the therapist services of his new wife and tries to console her by talking about how sad he was when his dog passed. She downs a bottle of water and hurries home. As she races towards the front door, a soccer ball in the flower bed catches her eye. She puts it into the newly bought storage container and slams the lid down. As grief descends, she retrieves the ball, hugs it tightly and collapses to the ground.

As the world continues to spin and birds sing, Nora sobs with Warren looking on through a nearby window. “God, I’m thirsty,” she says.

She is and will be for the rest of her life.

In the United States, school shootings and random acts of gun violence are becoming so common that they no longer qualify as unusual.

“No parent wants to become a member of the club that the only requirement to join is to have lost a child,” writes Ashley Wren Collins in her Director’s Statement. “Proof that this is becoming more common. TIME Magazine’s December 18th, 2018 cover story was: ‘The World Moves On and You Don’t: Parents Who Lost a Child in a School Shooting on the Pain That Never Ends.’ i only miss you when i’m breathing asks how do we go on in the face of unbearable loss? And how can we best express our love, care and concern for those who have endured unimaginable loss?”

Wren was moved to direct and produce this film after witnessing what her own sister-in-law experienced after losing her son.

“I co-produced with country star Phil Vassar and Lori Fischer, in a script written by Lori and starring both Phil and Lori. The film also features original music by Phil Vassar and an original song by Freddy Weller.”

i only miss you when I’m breathing screens in the historic Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center on Friday, May 14 during the Thinkers Shorts Block, which begins at 11:00 a.m.

May 12, 2021.

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