He went from bad to worse very quickly. His doctors gave him a very small chance of surviving. They put him on an ECMO machine in a last-ditch effort to save his life.

Photo by Isaac Quesada / Unsplash

At the end of 2019, I began paying attention to the stories in China about a deadly virus that was confounding the medical professionals. As soon as the doctor who’d been sounding the alarm had died, I was certain that virus was on its way here.

When the world began to lock down in March of 2020, like so many, I waited to hear the inevitable: that someone I knew would test positive for Covid. On May 4th, I got an email from my friend David. 

Subject: Jonathan
Hey you, 
I got this text from our darling June about an hour ago.
 “Dealing with some very challenging stuff over here, my friend. No time to talk but can you help me get the word out to our CalArts tribe including Tess, Mik, Allison and the others too? They can add all that positivity we need to this site here as my beautiful husband is trying to survive covid. He is on a ventilator at Cooper Hospital. Stay Safe and Stay Positive.”
(A link to Jonathan’s Caring Bridge page was included.)
Can we get on a video call? Just you and me. I’d love that.

I felt gutted. Jonathan, a nurse, was married to our college classmate, June. I phoned David immediately. His voice was labored, filled with fear. Not only was there so little information on this “novel” virus and how to combat it, but we were also in isolation and so very far away from June and Jonathan. “I feel helpless,” David said. “What can we do?”

I told him that, if he was up for it, we could energetically project ourselves into Jon’s room and surround him with our love. This was something I’d been doing variations of my entire life. As a result of childhood trauma, I began to imagine alternative realities for myself. In my youth, I’d escape from the present and time travel into the future where I would connect with my adult self. The present me would tour my future life, and my future self would assure me that everything was going to turn out just perfectly. As I moved into adulthood, I applied this same dream world to everything. In my imagination, I stood before the review board at CalArts and told them why they needed to accept me into the film school. When I started dating, I connected with a higher unconscious part of a boyfriend (their Higher Self, I would learn later) and tell them my fears and vulnerabilities. Anything I wanted to bring into my life, or change, I fantasized about, writing and rewriting in my head. I also kept track of my dreams and explored lucid dreaming. I had imaginary conversations with animals. I talked to my body when I was injured, asking why it had gotten my attention and what it wanted me to hear. When I was a child, this vast inner world kept me from feeling lonely. When I was an adult, I began to understand that it was a practice of manifestation. But it was certainly not something I talked about.

David was the first person I explored this with out loud. I told him to close his eyes and imagine that we were in Jonathan’s hospital room. We sat down, each of us on one side of his bed, and held his hand. We told him how many people were concerned about him and wanted him to know how much they loved him. We told him we were afraid, and we felt helpless. We talked to the virus that was in his body and asked it to be gentle. I’d been reading about discoveries that healthcare workers were making in helping people heal, so we imagined tilting Jonathan’s bed so that he was angled slightly upside down. We gently drummed on Jon’s chest to loosen the virus from his lungs, and we watched it leaving his body. We turned Jon over and tapped on his back. We sat beside him and filled his room with the love of everyone he knew, and we turned that love into healing power that would stay with him even if we couldn’t be there.

When I finished telling this story of being with Jon, David felt better. I felt better, too. David asked if he could reach out to a few of our classmates and organize a 30-minute video call the following day to do the same thing. To be clear, when we were students at CalArts together, I was in the film school with an emphasis on writing. They were all actors. The thought of being on a call with all of them and having to “perform” terrified me. Could I do that? In my head, I was screaming, NOOOOO! But what I said was, “Of course.”

On May 5th at 3 pm California time, 16 friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen in a decade or more, appeared in little boxes on my computer screen. David made a small introduction explaining our call from the previous day and how much it had helped to soothe him, and then it was my turn. I was very nervous. I had written down some notes beforehand, and I was trying to be present and also remember what I wanted to say. 

June had sent a text that morning that Jon was having a bronchoscopy to help him clear his left lung of mucus. She requested that we envision a smooth and successful procedure. I did some digging and discovered that when the virus gets into the lungs, it settles into the alveoli, tiny air sacs at the ends of the lung’s branches. The virus creates an infection and the body’s response to that infection is to fill the air sac with pus and fluid to try to flush it out. The fluid impairs the flow of oxygen and causes breathing problems. 

To begin, I had us gather in a circle around Jon in his hospital room. We joined hands. Because none of this was actually happening, I wanted to be slow and thoughtful and very descriptive. I told everyone to feel each other in this room together. Then, a halo of light appeared above us, the light of pure love. I described how it beamed into the room. I had us breathe in the white light from above, imagining it entering our bodies, and as we breathed out, we pushed the light out through our hands into the mattress that Jon lay on. I wanted to establish that he would be laying on a mattress of pure love from all of us, and that love would soothe and heal his body. I took a long moment and had us just think about breathing. It’s the only bodily function that we can control. I talked about the metaphysical meaning of problems with the lungs (fear of living fully, lack of meaning and inspiration), and we spent some time breathing together, filling our lungs fully with inspiration, then exhaling and feeling the release. 

As we were imagining ourselves just breathing together, with Jon and for Jon, I talked about trees. They’re the other half of our lungs on earth. The photosynthesis in their leaves is the reverse of human breathing. When we breathe out, they breathe in. We breathe out carbon dioxide that feeds them. They breathe out oxygen that keeps us alive. It can’t be a coincidence that our lungs look like an upside down tree that branches out into each side of our chest. At the ends of the branches, instead of leaves, we have alveoli, which look like bunches of grapes. With this in mind, I led us on a visualization of making ourselves small so that we could travel down Jon’s windpipe and into his left lung where each of us gathered alveoli into our hands and cleaned them of infection. When we’d finished, we brought Jon’s doctors into the room and showered them with love. We set an intention that Jon would tolerate the procedure well and they would be successful in clearing Jon’s lungs.

After about 20 minutes, we opened our eyes. A couple people were in tears. Despite my nerves, the experience was incredibly lovely. Then David said something unexpectedly. It hadn’t been planned, he just blurted it out. “We’re going to be here every day, doing this, until Jonathan comes home.” I was shocked. How are we going to do that? How am I going to do that?

Since the country was on lock down, many of us had nothing else to do. We also all began to cherish this time together, and the group was growing. David and I began trading off, leading every other day. Then others began to lead as well. For the next 74 days, we held this loving, positive space for Jonathan. 

He went from bad to worse very quickly. His doctors gave him a very small chance of surviving. They put him on an ECMO machine in a last-ditch effort to save his life. June texted or called every day to update us on Jon’s condition. For weeks he was surviving but it was dire. I woke up in the middle of the night most nights and rested in that place of being not quite awake and not quite asleep. It was a familiar place for me, one where lucid dreaming happens, and where I composed the next day’s visualization.

We read poems and sang songs. We traveled to rainforests and coastal oases. We spent a lot of time with trees. We wrote letters about meeting Jon and what we loved so much about him, and we each read our letters out loud. When Jon was holding onto his life by the thinnest of strands, I reached out to a dear friend of mine who is medium. He said that Jon was energetically detaching from this plane and moving toward the other side. My friend said we needed to root him in our reality, so we started each talking about what we were looking forward to doing with Jon, and telling him about what his kids were doing and why they needed him. June made lists of things Jon still wanted to finish doing around the house.

At the same time Jon was fighting for his life, so was Broadway actor Nick Cordero, who'd gotten Covid at about the same time as Jon and was in the ICU in a hospital in Los Angeles. They seemed to share so many similarities. Nick's wife had organized her own "Love Army," which was what June called ours. But Nick was declining, while Jon, little by little, to our amazement and to the astonishment of his doctors, was starting to heal. He was taken off the ECMO machine and the ventilator. Then he was brought out of the induced coma. June was able to see him for the first time on a video call. She had to explain what had happened to him. And she told him that a Love Army had gotten together every day on his behalf to shower him with love. 

When Jon was able to talk, he described what he experienced when he was in a coma. He had very vivid memories of a group of people who visited him in his room. At first, he thought they were people practicing mind control or something. Then he realized they were coming to help him. When he began to describe some of what we had actually visualized doing with him, we were all blown away. 

As Jon started to gain strength, we asked him what he felt he most needed, and that determined our visualization for the day. One day, Jon said he wanted to be on the call with us, but until he felt more comfortable, he didn’t want anyone to know he was there. After months of building time and trust and beauty with the group, I was feeling much more at ease in leading, letting my intuition run free. But anticipating that Jon would be on the call, I panicked. The Jon I knew would think this whole thing was bunk. Sure, there was a new Jon emerging, but I didn’t yet know who that Jon was. So in order to temper my fears and speak to the practical, earthbound man I had known, at the beginning of the call I said, “What I’m about to say might seem ludicrous or crazy. I just want you to know, you don’t have to believe it. You just have to imagine it.”

After almost three months in the hospital, Jon went home. He was so moved by the outpouring of love, he turned that love around and showered every healthcare worker who’d cared for him with his appreciation. He ended up connecting with Dr. Adam Green, one of the ICU doctors who’d made the decision to put him on the ECMO machine that would ultimately save his life. A year after leaving the hospital, Jon and Dr. Green competed in a half Iron Man race together.