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.
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!
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.
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.