Following the premiere of the film at the Telluride Film Festival, Ms. Jaouad recounted an encounter with a member of the audience who expressed relief that she was still there.
Ms. Jaouad explained that when it comes to stories of illness, they are typically told from the perspective of having survived. In that sense, “American Symphony” is a corrective as it does not offer an update on her health. She emphasized that it was uncertain if she would survive the filming period. The credits roll, but there is no neat ending for Ms. Jaouad and Mr. Batiste.
Ms. Jaouad expressed her heightened fear of not existing in the future, acknowledging that none of us know if we will exist in the future.
In her book “Between Two Kingdoms,” Ms. Jaouad shares her exchanges with a man named Quintin Jones, who was on death row. She described her devastation when his execution date was set. Despite her efforts to change his sentence, it was unsuccessful.
On the morning of his execution, Mr. Jones spent his four hours of phone calls with Mr. Batiste and Ms. Jaouad, talking in the future tense, despite knowing that the future wouldn’t come to pass.
Ms. Jaouad has been making plans as an act of “necessary optimism,” committing to write two more books. She also plans to showcase her artwork at the art center ArtYard next summer.
During a recent trip to Seattle, Ms. Jaouad opted to feel the rain on her face and allowed herself to fantasize about experiencing a rainstorm in the future, emphasizing the importance of feeling new experiences if she’s around to do so.