Russell’s Nurse Friend

One of the people I follow on Facebook is a long-time admirer of the Mary Russell stories who came into the fold when she was younger than Russell is in Beekeeper.  She did some of the illustrations we’ve used in various projects, like this one of Baskerville Hall:

(She was one of the few artists who actually drew Russell with glasses. Glasses are hard.)  Marisa is now a nurse.  In New Orleans. Where the Covid death rate is twice that of New York.

So, yeah.

She’s also a farmer and an artist and an all-round amazing person. When I read her recent comment about having to re-use her mask five days running, I got in touch and mailed her some of the N95 masks I bought last year against the smoke of California’s wildfires.  I also asked her if she’d like to do some illustrations for a fundraiser project we’re in the middle of putting together. (More on that soon.)

I thought you, as fellow members of the Russell community, might like to know what she had to say:

Wednesday, April 1:

Hi Laurie,

Thank you so much for the masks. They have given renewed hope and have helped reduce fear in my hospital among the staff (and myself)! Thank you for protecting us ❤️

It’s been a weird weekend for me, I spiked a temp, but was fortunately able to get tested rapidly and found out I DO NOT have Covid-19 at this point. Received my ok to return to work today. Quarantine has been odd. I have a feeling this might happen multiple times…

I anticipate returning to work if not tomorrow then later this week and will then be able to see with my own eyes if we now have equipment or not. We have been receiving emails from higher-ups that we do, but I am waiting to see that with my own eyes. Many hospitals are having staff re-use their protective equipment still but that picture is changing rapidly. My heart goes out to NYC and other places in the country that have been so tragically hit by this pandemic. I know that every time I go into work recently I have to somehow be ok with the fact that I might die. Going in for a shift at the hospital feels like jumping out of a plane right now, and leaving feels just the same because I am so afraid I am going to bring something home to my husband.

These are, as they say, strange times.

I stay hopeful and motivated in the fact that people do get through this and I need to have faith that I will be one of them. At the very least I can make the most of the situation and help as many as I can until I am stopped.  I do not work in the ED or ICU but I have seen the fatigue and fear in the eyes of my colleagues and have heard their stories. My patients are frightened, alone, and even more vulnerable than ever before. I have felt the pressure myself as an inpatient ICU-step down nurse on an Oncology floor and this is just the beginning of it.

But I will persist 👍

I have found in difficult times throughout my life, when life puts pressures on you like this you absolutely must embrace every shred of happiness that you can. I would therefore be honored  to contribute to your project. It may be just the thing to keep things in perspective!

Thank you and stay safe out there,


Thursday, April 2:

I hope not to frighten people, but at the same time I think everyone needs to know what is going on and that it is critical that healthcare providers receive the public’s help.

I received word today that the first nurse has died down here from COVID and that there are possibly one or two more. And this is happening across the country. I think that people don’t realize how powerful their actions can be by simply staying at home – such a simple thing WILL save lives.

On a lighter note, I will start working on your pictures tonight with a goal of getting them completed within the next 3-4 days if that is suitable. I am deeply touched that you would include me in your project and if there’s anything you want changed with the images I send you let me know – I’m very easy to work with and open to modifications. I love the idea of your project.

Thank you Laurie for your support, friendship and excellent books. Stay safe out there.


This, I think you will agree, is a young woman Ms. Russell would be very proud of calling a friend.

And I got the first of her illustrations, and it makes me so happy, I can’t wait to share them with you all.

I don’t want to post her email address here, but if you have a message for Marisa, you can email it to me at, and I’ll forward it. Or you can post it on my personal Facebook page, which she visits:

Keep safe, keep happy, keep it together, everyone.


  1. Carolyn on April 5, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Dear Marisa, I am staying at home and really fear that I might have to go to a store. You show great courage and dedication and nurses do that every day. Now more than ever you are essential and valued. Now more than ever I feel such love for you and all health workers. May you be safe and have continued health. Thank you from the bottom of my old heart.

  2. Susan Morrison on April 5, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    Dear Marisa,
    God bless you and protect you and your colleagues. You’ll be in my prayers. They haven’t far to travel; I’m just down the road in Baton Rouge

  3. jean m utley on April 6, 2020 at 12:00 am

    Thank you, Marisa for all you hard work and caring. We all care about you, too.

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