Erica Lehrer Dances With Ataxia

Erica Lehrer is a 1976 Staples grad.  As far back as Hillspoint Elementary School, recalls Sue Holliday Windrick, she was “light years ahead in terms of poise and intellect.”

Six years ago, the mother of 2 — in the prime of her career in law and journalism — was diagnosed with ataxia. The disease strikes 3 people in every 100,000.

Erica Lehrer

It has affected her mobility, speech, body temperature, blood pressure and eye muscles. The Princeton graduate now struggles to speak and walk. She uses an iPad to write.

Yet, Sue says, “her voice has not been silenced. Erica now writes beautiful poetry.”  Dancing with Ataxia — a compilation of Erica’s poems — was published last year.

A reviewer wrote:

In this exquisite collection, Erica Lehrer offers the reader one treasure after another. She has a voice that is…strong, elegant, poised. The emotional impact of these poems never feels contrived.

What I find so remarkable is the wonderful intelligence she communicates. Balancing pain and humor, adversity and resolve, she has put together a book that is at once engaging and aesthetically sophisticated. Bravo!

Another praised:

Her work captures the meaning (to her) of a life cut short, and most unfairly so….

She brings to us her accomplishments as lover, mother, wife and friend, without being maudlin, or forgetful that death comes to us all, and the most important things may have happened without being witnessed or acknowledged.

“So many people think I’m retarded, mentally slow because I cannot talk quickly or well anymore, but so far so good,” says Erica.

Erica Lehrer, enjoying the outdoors.

On Thursday, Erica turned 54.  Fox News Houston interviewed her about her disease and her poetry.

Her husband Richard told the station, “It’s given her a world, a virtual world, of poets around the country and world that communicate and support her.”

With Richard and her readers by her side, Erica Lehrer keeps dancing.

(Click here for Erica’s website. Click here for the Fox News Houston interview. Click here to order her book through Amazon. )

One response to “Erica Lehrer Dances With Ataxia

  1. The reviewer who described Erica Lehrer’s poet’s voice as “strong, elegant, poised” saw characteristics that applied to the entire remarkable young woman who was one class year apart from me at Westport’s Staples High School during the mid-1970s. I would add more descriptors of Erica: brilliant, insightful, beautiful, observant, mindful, and musical (never without her flute).

    In late 1974 or ealy 1975, Erica Lehrer taught me one of the singularly most important lessons of my life by causing me to re-examine how I relate to people. I’ve reflected on this lesson every time I’ve formed a deep friendship or relationship. I have been grateful to Erica for this lesson for three decades, and I hope she reads this comment so that she knows. I pray for Erica to continue to enjoy the support and love of her family and friends. I pray for her comfort. I pray that she has many, many more opportunities to express herself and that she is able to use every means of self-expression available to her to do so.