Jason Unger is sunshine in our lives. Admittedly those first months and year were the most difficult times I’ve ever faced, but my love for our beautiful boy gives me happiness I’ve never known. Jason is a sweet, delicate sensitive boy – he’s like a flower you never want to let go of and yet you only want to experience being around him because he brings so much joy. Because of Jason I know the world will be brighter.
I know, because it’s that way for me.
My blog post title is a line of lyrics from my song “Never Gone Away.” I have been very affected knowing that a mother and daughter are close to being separated by death. My song is dedicated to them and I will write more soon.-
I do believe there is nothing more meaningful than leaving something behind that touches other peoples’ lives. It is especially poignant when it happens without dying, too.
This February, it will be three years since I began writing this blog. I plan to release my audio book soon that tells the story about how I healed from my grief through rediscovering my music.
Creating my book was a huge undertaking and I hope that my songs and stories will touch and comfort many people. I also plan to create a second audio book that will be a continuation of my story. I have begun a new phase in my journey while coping with separation and divorce after 31 years of marriage.
Lately, I haven’t written much about myself personally. But I do love writing. I wait for inspiration to hit me and I sift through ordinary moments looking for things that I find touching.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as gleaning joy from seeing my two teenage children adjusting to our new living situation. Both of them were very sad to move from the home where they grew up in.
Yesterday, when I was taking a shower the water went from burning hot to icy cold several times. I screamed and was not in a good mood when I came out. When I muttered under my breath, my teenage son immediately told me that no complaining was allowed in our new digs. I wonder where he heard that?
Then, he began to lecture me in a serious voice and said that his sister had taught him the “proper technique.” He explained (as if I were a dumb child) that all I needed to do was first turn the cold-water knob slightly and add the hot water to it.
His words were, “Mom, I’ve had perfectly fine showers and if you would just listen to me all would be fine.”
I worked hard to keep every muscle on my face in check, but a smile began to form. Inside I was screaming the word, “Hallelujah!”
He had actually listened to his sister and was complimenting her. Finally, my two children were in agreement and getting along! I was also happy to know that both of them had accepted our crappy shower.
One of the harder aspects of my separation has been dealing with so many changes. Most of the changes are for the better. There are many things about my former life that I do not miss. I do not miss the blaring television, the dog yapping and the parrot screeching; though I do miss the sweet kisses from that Conure, with whom I used to shower several times a week.
When I separated from my husband, I also separated from my oldest son. My housekeeper of 23 years, Rosa, was left without a job.
My oldest son, who is 22, has gone through a great deal of grief losing his grandfather and dealing with our divorce. I know he misses his sister and me, and because Rosa was like his other mother, he misses her too. My son has been a wonderful role model to his younger brother and they see each other on the weekends. I find myself getting quite teary whenever my oldest son expresses his love and concern for me, which he does quite often.
Rosa is very close to all of my children. She cared for them from infancy on; she was there on the day I brought each one home from the hospital. Our parting of ways was inevitable and I am grateful that the transition went very smoothly. But I have been lonely without having Rosa there to talk to. She truly understood about my reasons for leaving and I’ve missed seeing her on a daily basis. One night a week, we reunite. It’s very special for both of us. Thankfully, she has adjusted and her new life has been going well.
“Three special women in my life”
I have been blessed by loving three very special Latina women in my life. I mentioned Rosa.
The second one would be Miriam, my mother’s companion. Miriam continues to keep my mother thriving while in a nursing home. She spends six days a week with my mother and has been such a blessing to our family.
The third special woman I have loved is named Lupe.
There are times when I can look into my past and feel like I am a time traveler. Some moments are so crystal clear, that I can feel the impact even though many years have passed.
Long ago, I never expected I’d need a housekeeper. But when my first child was born with a serious congenital heart defect, I was not equipped to cope with his illness. Just remembering his infancy gives me chills. Jason’s defect was called “Transposition of the Great Vessels.”
I have shared many items and pictures on this blog and I am going to share more. At this juncture, I’ll share some images that are not flattering. But they do tell my story. Because I gained over one hundred pounds during my pregnancy, I was very overweight at that time.
Lupe was a young girl who came into my life a few weeks after Jason was born. The memory of meeting and hiring her is still quite vivid for me.
Jason was constantly crying. Lupe picked him up and he became quiet. Although she spoke not a word of English, she handled Jason like a pro.
I hired her on the spot. I did not speak Spanish, but somehow Lupe and I managed to communicate. Gradually she learned English from me and became fluent. Later on, the same thing also happened with Rosa and I.
I wrote briefly about Lupe on my post named: JASON MEANT “HEALER”
This morning, I was editing a song for my audio book with headphones on. I cocked my head, because I thought I heard an instrument I hadn’t noticed before in the mix.
Then I laughed, because it was the musical tone from my cell phone ringing nearby. I missed the call and didn’t recognize the number, but I decided to call back.
A woman answered and she said, “Judy, it’s Lupe, do you remember me?” My voice jumped an octave as I told her I most certainly did. I was so glad I had called back!
For half an hour we were laughing and crying; sharing about our lives. The last time we had spoken was perhaps a year after Jason’s death.
That meant we hadn’t spoken in almost twenty years.
It turned out that Lupe’s son had helped her to find me on the Internet. My phone number was on my illustration website, which I had only recently updated a week ago. Before that, the phone number wouldn’t have worked.
Lupe chuckled and said, “Judy, my family has asked me why I’ve saved pictures of Jason and your family for all these years – why I didn’t throw them in the trash. But I told them that your family was my family back then! They know everything, because I’ve talked about Jason many, many times. Remember how he wouldn’t eat?”
Of course, I remembered.
Lupe and I continued to reminisce. I told her how amazed I was that she figured out so many creative ways to feed him. Jason was extremely small and when he died at the age of five he only weighed 33 pounds.
As we talked, I noticed there were tears pouring out from my eyes. They rolled and puddled upon my chest. Lupe told me she had found my blog and cried while reading my story about Jason.
I never imagined what my future held; that the young girl who cared for my sick cardiac child would be calling me all these years later.
Then Lupe said that it was important for me to know that Jason had definitely affected her life. I choked on my tears when she said, “Judy, there was something so special about Jason and I will never forget him.”
This phone call was indeed a gift. Only the day before, I had called a friend whose daughter died three months after Jason. I wanted to wish her a Happy New Year and share that I had moved. My friend thanked me for my call and said that I was the only one who remembered.
Now I was receiving my own blessing. I couldn’t believe it. My dead child, who had only lived five years, had made an impact on another person.
I savored the phone call and eventually it was time for me to go. Before hanging up, Lupe said she’d email me a picture of her family. I let her know I would do the same. It turned out that Lupe’s children were close in age to my children. She had maintained her marriage and I was happy for her.
I remembered how she was such a frightened young girl when she started working for me. At that time, she was twenty years old. One day, she told me that an abusive boyfriend had knocked out all her front teeth. She was beaten up many times before she left her country.
Now, I was especially glad to hear how her life turned out.
A few hours later I received Lupe’s email, which included a message and a beautiful family portrait.
I cried and cried. It was because grief surfaced about the end of my marriage when I read her words.
Grief amputated my soul. Grief was excruciating and torturous. My marriage suffered.
I spent the rest of my day going through Jason’s box to search for pictures of Lupe.
As I explored, so many memories came back to me. Not all of them were sad. I laughed aloud when I saw the black and white photos where Lupe as a joke had switched Jason’s outfit with another infant girl she was also watching. My dear friend, Joni, had come for a visit and Lupe insisted we could go out for dinner and come back while she watched our babies. When we came back, it took us a few minutes to realize the gender differences!
In Jason’s baby-book, I came across something I wrote under a section called “mother’s message.” My words described Jason as a beautiful flower.
It was so beautiful that I started crying again. I knew tears were good – better out than in.
Healing from my grief never meant that I couldn’t cry remembering him.
My son is an angel and I will continue to sing for him.
On January 8, 2013, Lupe wrote:
This is my family. I would love to see a photo of your family, as well. I am so happy to hear from you. I apologize for all the years that have passed without me contacting you, but believe me, you and your family always crossed my mind. You know how much I love all of you.
Judy, you were truly a blessing from God that I needed at the time, and I still cannot thank you enough. I remember how sweet you and Michael used to treat each other and I learned a lot from you two. That is the reason that my family is so strong up until today. It hurts me to know that you and Michael are going through rough times but I understand. There are so many memories of us that I remember as if it were yesterday.
I love you, Judy. I can’t wait to hear from you again.
I was so touched by your beautiful phone call and email. Of course, I didn’t forget you! You have no idea how much it meant to me – to know how Jason touched your life. Yesterday, I realized that I didn’t fully tell you how much you have meant to me, also.
I was such an inexperienced first-time mother when you came to work for me. I learned incredible things from you and was grateful for the comfort you gave Jason. He loved you dearly and depended upon you. We were both connected to him and I could understand why you would feel like he was your first child.
The experience of Jason being unable to eat and your ability to feed him will be forever burned into my mind. It was an unending task and I could not have done it alone. My mother shared that with me, too, and I miss her very much.
When the time came for you to move on in your life – it was difficult for us to part. But you were supposed to leave when you did - it was better that you didn’t experience the grief in our home when Jason died. It was especially sad for the grandparents; you cannot imagine.
The fact that you are married with a beautiful family makes me so happy. For you to give credit to my husband and I is very beautiful. As I cope with my divorce, I try to have a perspective that all of those years were not wasted and unhappy. There were parts that were good enough to touch you, for example. That is meaningful and inspiring; it makes me cry.
Just as you moved on to a new life when it was time – I am doing that now. Sometimes, our journey takes us to places we never expected to go; such is mine. I carry memories of Jason with me. You are there, too, Lupe. I will never forget you.
© 2013 by Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Tags: child's death, compassionate friends, congenital heart defect, death, death of a child, Friendship, friendship and loss, grief, grief bereavement "Loss of a Child", GRIEF RELATED, inspiration, loss, memories, motherhood