On Day 9 after the loss of my beloved Camilla due to a brain tumor, I think it’s important to start the day with love. Whether it’s petting my remaining dog Isabella, or sending love letters to my boyfriend, I feel better when I start the day with something that will last. Because any love given and received is eternal and makes bonds that even death can’t break. And in the future, I’ll feel better knowing that I really showed my love to my loved ones. At least that’s something I can hang on to when the times comes that I’m separated from them.

Today it’s back to work. I feel like I’m betraying Cami, well, the memory of Cami. She is a memory to me now, rather than a living, breathing presence. It takes me four hours to settle down to do something. And then after about 45 minutes, I feel sick to my stomach. I feel like I can’t dramaturg another word. I have to stop and I have to go on. I have to go and I have to rest. I have to remember and I have to forget.

I have to move on, and I want to go back. I have to stand up, and I want to lie down. No wonder I feel sick. I give up my efforts, shut my computer down, and prepare to go to a fitness class. I’ve gained weight in the past two years, and it’s time to take care of myself. Maybe the class will fill in a little of the hole I have inside.


Today is Day 10, and the end of my official mourning period. I had a panic attack this morning. Pain started in the middle of my chest and spread across it as I placed my hands on my heart to apply some pressure and maybe stop the spread of the discomfort. I had to stop what I was doing and regroup.

Why was I having a panic attack? What was I afraid of? And most important, what could I do about it? I was afraid of diving back in to work, afraid that I would get overwhelmed, or trapped in a rut of always responding to the needs of my consulting business with no room to step aside and rest. I breathed slowly until the pain went away.

And logging on to my computer and listening to my phone messages, I find that, indeed, it is time to dive back in. There are deadlines. There are plans and promises I’ve made that I have to fulfill. It seems that people need me now more than ever.

It’s good to be needed. Dramaturgy and playwriting are my life’s work, the things that make me happy.

But will I betray Cami’s memory by leaving behind my grief and returning to my daily routine?

As I ease back into my day, I feel somehow that Cami would understand. She was all about being happy. I found some photos of her lying contentedly on piles of blankets on my bed, surrounded by mounds of softness. She loved to run and play, and she was often smiling, or quietly staring into space, thinking deep thoughts. She was inscrutable in many ways, but I do know this. She loved being happy together with me and her sister Isabella.

We had a life that we enjoyed day by day. And I have to start that process over again with faith that my life decisions are good ones, and that I will reap the rewards of my efforts. It’s time for things to go back to normal. I need to move on.

I still feel the comfort that she gave me with her sweet little personality and presence. And I hope that feeling stays with me for a very long time.

Anne Hamilton 2012

Anne Hamilton

Anne Hamilton is an NYC-based freelance dramaturg and the Founder of Hamilton Dramaturgy, an international consultancy. She created Hamilton Dramaturgy’s TheatreNow!, where she hosts and produces an oral history podcast series of important theatre women working in America. Anne has dramaturged for Andrei Serban, Michael Mayer, Lynn Nottage, NYMF, Niegel Smith, Classic Stage Company, and the Great Plains Theatre Festival, among others. She is also an award-winning playwright. Her chapter, “Freelance Dramaturgs in the 21st Century: Journalists, Advocates, and Collaborators” appears in The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy. She was a Bogliasco Foundation Fellow, won the Dean’s Prize for Dramaturgy at Columbia University School of the Arts, and holds dual citizenship in Italy and the United States. Anne lost her best friend Curtis in a head-on car accident in 1979, two weeks after his high school graduation. Her emotional life became frozen and she has spent the last thirty-two years exploring all areas of self-expression, particularly through stage plays, poetry, theatre, art, and music. She is currently developing her own chamber-play-with-dance entitled ANOTHER WHITE SHIRT, about the way that grief moves through the body.

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