There’s a transient quality about watching someone fade from your life. You want to stay in a moment forever, helping your loved one in whatever their struggle is, but you also want it to pass. You want to live your normal life, whatever that may be, you want to be selfish. I began writing Gold Star just after my father suffered a massive stroke in 2011, when I was just 24. He was 87.
For the year between my father’s stroke and his passing in November 2012, I lived out of a suitcase between my apartment in New York City and my family’s house in Connecticut. I wrote my script by my father’s hospital bedside. I learned how to suction a trache. I took Skype script meetings with filmmakers and screenwriters and producers. I was not living the life of a normal 24-year-old. I was 100 percent committed to supporting my family, but obviously, I was experiencing things many of my peers were not, often in private, often hidden, and struggling to be stay optimistic, when all I wanted was for everything to go back to “normal”, whatever that is.
Gold Star is a film very loosely inspired by my experiences. It’s a film about living between lives, almost being a full-time caregiver, and almost being a normal 20-something-year-old figuring her life out. It’s a film that changes each time I watch it, as my experiences with my father in the last year of his life, a year that left him unable to speak or move much becomes more and more dream-like. Gold Star is a time capsule, evoking the defining period which we all experience, struggling to accept the loss of a parent.
I wanted to show a protagonist who doesn’t have it all together or figured out, who is often selfish and needy, who lashes out when she’s in pain, who rejects the feminine roles of caregiver, daughter, and lover, who is struggling to find her own path in life, when circumstances are pulling her in all different directions. I hope Gold Star shows people experiencing grief that it’s okay to not be okay. Life is unpredictable, uncontrollable, and nobody is perfect.