Self-portrait by Mary Jo Steger. 

Stage Four: A Love Story was filmed over the course of five-plus years while Mary Jo and her family rode the emotional roller coaster of her precious last years of life. Almost four years later, the Stage Four Team, siblings Benjamin Steger (Director/Producer) and Kate Steger (Outreach and Marketing Coordinator), intend to contribute to and manage this blog as a way of generating support for and to dialog with others in similar circumstances. We are interested in thoughtful and articulate contributions that enrich our collective understanding of sickness and health, love and forgiveness, life and death, and in the role that film, and other art forms, can play in helping us reflect on and tell even our most difficult stories.

We welcome your voice in this dialog! Please feel free to leave your comments below each post. If you would like to make a longer contribution in the form of an essay, a poem, a photograph or another work of art, or if you have suggested links to other online reading material or resources, please contact us


Another Motherless Child

This week, someone who read my recent post on my mom's birthday sent me a link to this article by 19-year-old college student, Ruby Dutcher. Not only is it beautifully written but it's also a powerful demonstration of our need to share our stories, no matter how gut-wrenching. The website that published it, Modern Loss, is an excellent hub for frank talk about death and dying or as they put it, a "Candid conversation about grief. Beginners welcome." They provide personal essays, lots of resources, and how-to advice on dealing with the taboos around mourning in our daily lives. I wish I'd found their website sooner! 

'I'm Only 19' by Ruby Dutcher

I’m in an armchair in my dorm’s sixth floor lounge when I get the call. My mother is dying in her hospital bed in Los Angeles. She’s terminally agitated, trying to stand up and pulling at her IVs. It means her organs are shutting down. Come home, come home now, they say, we’ll try to keep her alive till you get here.