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Last night, Memorial Day night, I was lying between my son and daughter, whispering with them as if a grown up were going to come in and yell at us. We were laughing about a girl who had terrorized the playground all weekend, scandalized the mothers by refusing to get off the “spinner” and let their children have a turn. Dashiell called her the “Sassy Grump” and followed his imagination through scenarios of the Sassy Grump taking over playgrounds all over the city, locking mothers out and extorting money, while my heart trailed off to thoughts of Karen Walsh Rullman.
I remembered her imitating my eighteen month old daughter, dramatizing her diva-‐ esque hand motion, laughing, and in that moment I saw what a good actress she was, how alive and funny to watch.
I remembered her in the school yard at pick up, talking about a show, trying to get me to meet a friend of her’s, always wanting to put artists together, always that laugh like we’re all in this together, we all know how tough it is, let’s just put on our best face and walk out onto the stage of life.
When our kids were in kindergarten I wrote a musical with them, Karen’s daughter was so cute, like a fairy, eyes like a fawn, brown and gazing mirthfully at everyone, expecting us to break into song and dance at any moment, waiting for it. Karen must have been like that to her. And then after weeks of writing with the children, and them really knowing the songs, the music, Karen came in to the classroom to choreograph. That was the first time I’d ever seen her serious. Because it was a show. And a show was the real deal, you can’t laugh through this, not like life, it has to be, you know, as close to Broadway as you can be on Seventy Eighth Street.
One year Karen and I did Broadway night at the school. She sang, “You’ve got a friend”, and I listened in the wings thinking, ‘She is that friend. She lives these lyrics.’ I went out and sang an original song, feeling uncomfortably self-‐promoting, and wishing I had sang the duet with her. Later, she sat in a child chair in the first grade classroom talking with her performing partner like she were back stage at a gala. Again, I felt so willowy watching her, admiring the seasoned pro, and yet, I hadn’t a clue that very soon I’d never see her again.
Today, thinking about how to bring up Karen’s death with Dashiell, I asked him what he thought about dying. ‘What do you mean?’ He asked. ‘In the book you’re reading, Magnus Chase, is there stuff about death?’ ‘Yes. If you die bravely with a weapon or a tool in your hand you go to Vanaheim, which is a peaceful paradise with good dinners.’ ‘So death is an extension of life?’ ‘How you live determines how you live after death.’ A few blocks later I told him Karen had died last night and he was startled, hit by real sadness, empathy for his classmate and her brother. No Odin, Gods, afterlife. ‘It’s so sad’, he said, ‘to never see the person you’ve been so close with, you’ve seen every day, again.’
That’s what is so tough about living. Making loss bearable. Breaking into song, into dance, tickling each other late at night in the face of imminent heartbreak, and fear. That’s what was in Karen’s laugh. Memorial Day. We remember our brothers and sisters in arms, and we are all soldiers. But when a family is putting up such a fight, being so brave, exuding spirit and life in the face of such odds, it humbles us. If I were dying, I often thought. If I were dying, I would only be concerned with my children. Whether they were being loved, respected, cared for, treated fairly, empowered to design their lives, and if I felt my children had support, lots of generous support, maybe I could go to Vanaheim in peace.
So, here, I’m putting Karen’s family’s website up so you can read about them and hopefully contribute to their well being in the aftermath of a great mother, artist, and wife’s death.
Karen’s Circle of Support
This stellar night of music will feature Sophie B. Hawkins, along with special guests Run Jenny and Eric Himan. Run Jenny and their music is creating some buzz in the industry with tracks off of Therapy Sessions nominated for the Right OUT Television & Music awards “Best Country” and “Best Rock” and the band nominations for “Best Rock” and “Best New Band” by the CT Music Awards. Eric Himan is regular live guest/featured artist on SiriusXM’s The Coffeehouse and has toured with Ani DiFranco, Leon Russell and has shared the stage with Indigo Girls. This is a night you won’t want to miss, all for a good cause.
Proceeds benefit the ACLU.
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield CT 06824
Sophie will be appearing at Wesley Stace’s Cabinet of Wonders at the City Winery in New York City. The Cabinet of Wonders one of a kind variety show with celebrated musicians, writers and comedians.
NPR’s Cabinet of Wonders, a series for public radio featuring the best of the acclaimed New York variety show which finds leading novelists, musicians and comedians each performing as part of a rare showcase of talent hosted by musician and author Wesley Stace (formerly known as John Wesley Harding), is now airing nationally as a six-episode radio program (WXPN Philadelphia and WFUV in New York were among the first to carry the show).
February 24th at 8:00pm (Doors Open at 6pm)
The City Winery
155 Varick Street
New York, NY 10013
By Sophie B. Hawkins
When you are about to lose something, someone valuable, that’s when you sacrifice your time, your way of life to hold onto them, that’s when you become really present. When you are about to lose something you love is when you get on your knees and beg.
Maybe that’s the silver lining of Trump becoming president. We are not willing to lose what we love about this country and we are willing to get on our knees for Miss Liberty not to go away. It reminds me of the original Planet Of The Apes when she is washed up on the shore, didn’t that make you cry?
And is it possible that Hillary was too conciliatory, that she didn’t quite embody the voice of the resistance? And the good part about that is, we do. Our bodies carry our message loud and clear. I’ve felt for a long time we look too much to Washington for our progress reports. We on the street are the progressives and we on the street know what we need and how to ask for it.
This big, pink army has to realize how powerful we are now. And how beautiful. If all of us want to help the homeless, feed the hungry, protect children, educate the most under privileged, make sure we can each afford medical care, and create a real green economy, don’t you think we can do it? There are so many of us passionate humanitarians. One would think we have no excuses not to help each other bring this land of ours’ up to it’s highest potential.
Did Moses have this many people? Did Jesus?
Did Martin Luther king?
Did Joan Of Arc?
Does Gloria Steinem?
She should. This big pink army doesn’t need an enemy any more than Donald Trump does. We need tasks. We need focus and positive reinforcement that how we picture this country, because This Land Is Our land, is how we can make it.
Sophie will be performing at the Rubin Museum in New York City in their Naked Soul Series.
Naked Soul presents performances from some of the countryâ€™s top singer/songwriters without microphones or amplifiers, as if the music were, acoustically speaking, naked, viagra uk mastercard. The musicians in the series draw upon the universal themes inherent in Himalayan artâ€”spirituality, peace, tolerance, wisdom, compassion.