Dancing in the Living Room

My husband, Richard Kamler, who I’ve loved since 1971, died from cancer in November 2017.  Richard was an artist, a person with a calling, who was driven to make a mark on the world with his art. His devotion to that work was an inspiration for me. I am also an artist. My work: acting, improvisation, dance, storytelling, writing, has always been a life line for me, a path to aliveness that’s seen me through depression, illness, care giving and profound grief. When Richard died I found myself beyond bereft. I was absolutely altered, unbalanced, adrift. Everything hurt. I took time off from teaching, practicing and performing, desperately seeking help to keep me from following Richard into the grave. I was fortunate enough to get that help, from a therapist, an anti-depressant drug, friends, a grief group, a Rabbi, my sisters, my son, and my little grandsons. Then, I started to miss improvisation practice and teaching. The first time I taught a 3 hour class since Richard’s death was the first period of more than a few minutes that I didn’t think about him. When I practiced solo improvisation with my colleagues, I cried intermittently as I moved and talked. My colleagues supported me fully. Self expression was the best therapy. When I teach, my compassion for my students seems to have increased.
A year after Richard died I attended GRIEF AND GROWING, a retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains put on by The Jewish Healing Center. I took a songwriting workshop there with Kiki Lipsett. It was only the two of us. We had a lovely connection.
I wrote (actually sung) the first version of this song, DANCING IN THE LIVING ROOM, in the two hour period with Kiki and performed it, with Kiki on piano, for our talent show that evening. I’d never written a song before and would not have, if not for Kiki playing my warbled tune by ear. As an improviser I’ve made up many songs in the past, none of which I could remember well enough to save. (they often weren’t worth saving, anyway.) But this one I worked on and we recorded it. Kiki singing and playing piano, Yehudit on violin. I’m in a different stage of grieve now. Lighter. I’m working on my next song. Thanks for listening.

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