OPENING THE GATES TO OUR HEARTS

Magda and her step-grandson, Nicolas.

Magda and her step-grandson, Nicolas.

“I’ve helped to open the heart gates for others”

When I first met Magda while playing tennis, I had not yet lost my child. We became friends through our common interest, the enjoyment of tennis.

She loved children, and when Jason was born she was extremely caring.

After losing a child, I learned things about many people and their pain. Friends and other humans shared pain with me that they had kept hidden prior to that. Many people bury their pain so that they can carry on a “normal” existence.

After Jason died, many people shared their own grief experience with me.

It was then that I learned about Magda’s past. I remember clearly how she had great difficulty attending my son’s funeral, yet she made the effort to be there. She was unable to enter the room where the small casket was.

Currently, Magda has Multiple Sclerosis. Her MS has been very progressive and extremely painful. She has an amazing attitude about everything that has happened to her.

On Mar 7, 2010, Magda wrote:

DEAR JUDY,

I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN A CHRISTIAN FAMILY, MY GRANDMA AND MY MOM TOOK ME TO THE CHURCH BUT LATER ON, THE COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT INTERDICT THE RELIGION, THEY DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD OR THEY ARE AFRAID OF HIM….

WHAT I KNOW, IS THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD WHO CREATED ALL OF US…

MY REAL CONNECTION WITH GOD WAS WHEN I LOST MY DAD, HE WAS 54, I WAS 24… 3 YEARS LATER I LOST MY SON, HE WAS BORN ALIVE AND BECAUSE WAS PREMATURE I COULDN’T HOLD HIM, I COULD SEE HIM THROUGH A WINDOW. I PUMPED OUT THE MILK AND THE NURSE COULD FEED HIM…HE DIED FROM HEPATITIS OR…? IN THAT DAY I CRIED NON-STOP AND NEXT DAY I LEFT THE HOSPITAL WITHOUT DOCTOR’S PERMISSION, GOING TO A CHURCH PRAYING ON MY KNEES FROM MY HEART…I FELT SOMETHING I CAN NOT DESCRIBE…I FELT LIGHTER & LIGHTER

GOD LISTENED TO MY PRAYER AND HELPED ME TO STAND UP AND CONTINUE MY LIFE…. IN 3-4 MONTHS GOING BACK TO SPORT ACTIVITIES, BUT I COULDN’T TALK ABOUT MY BABY FOR YEARS.

I GOT STRONGER AND NOTHING COULD HURT ME MORE THAN LOSING MY BABY…..THIS IS THE WAY I GOT MY FAITH IN GOD

IT IS INSIDE OF ME AND NOBODY CAN TAKE IT OUT….

JUDY YOUR TALENT (ART AND MUSIC) IS A GIFT FROM GOD ALSO YOUR GOOD HEART (COMPASSION AND UNDERSTANDING) THREE WONDERFUL KIDS…. SO MANY THINGS TO BE GRATEFUL TO GOD…MY GRANDSON, ASKS ME MANY THINGS ABOUT GOD …HE KNOWS HOW TO PRAY AND HE SAID HE IS GOING TO PRAY FOR GRANDMA TO WALK AGAIN….SO SWEET ….

HE MELTED MY HEART…..

I LOVE THE WAY YOU ARE …YOU HELPED ME AND OTHERS TO OPEN OUR HEART GATES……….LOVE, MAGDA

On Mar 7, 2010, Judy wrote:

Dearest Magda,

Present and past collide for me. I am healing with opening my heart gates. At the same time, my tender heart is aching as I read what you wrote. I feel your pain about your baby, and I am openly sobbing. I had to close the door so no one could hear me.

I am so sorry for all that you suffered! That horrible regime and communist government in Romania was responsible for your child’s death; you labored for far too long and almost died yourself. And that same government outlawed religion!

How can I not thank you for opening up to me? You will be part of my book, which I am hoping will help many other people. There is no benefit to not talking about the things in our lives that change us forever. The way you described how you felt lighter and lighter after praying, is how I am feeling now about writing.

Love, Judy

My cousin, Dorothy, was very close with my mom. Her son, who is a doctor, has helped my mother more than words could express.

When I had this email exchange today, it helped to summarize for me the collision of the past and present.

This exchange began as I was emailing some of my feelings regarding religion. It started with a message to my cousin, Dorothy.

On Mar 6, 2010, Judy wrote:

HI Dorothy,

Your compliment to me that I am “a good Jew” overwhelms me. That is one area where I always feel like I’ve disappointed my mom.

One of my most recent discoveries is that my mom does not have the faith I always envied in her. She is very much afraid of death.

So the very thing I thought my mother had, I don’t see in her as much now.

She knows that I do not attend synagogue services. I was forced to go to temple for years and years, and disliked the services intensely. I also haven’t embraced a lot of the Jewish traditions. Years ago, it was difficult for my mom to accept this, but in these later years – she has come around.

I received a lot of support from the Jewish Community Center where Jason attended preschool. They were like a family, and extended so much kindness and compassion to our family.

At this time, I feel fortunate to have discovered our wonderful temple. I did all this for my mom, but in the end, so much came back to my children. I just try not to force them as much. Right now, my oldest teenagers are not much interested in being Jewish, and Reggie is close to dropping out.

It is hard to convey something to them that I’m not sure I have. It is so interesting how many of my friends became very religious or “orthodox.” Joni got so much out of watching my family while she was growing up. She envied our Shabbats.

I guess I know I’m a good person. All my suffering helped me understand the pain of grief; I am good at extending comfort to other people.

I am so glad you wrote me, Dorothy.

Love, Judy

On Mar 7, 2010, Dorothy wrote:

Dear Judy,

Judy, religion is a gift. It is true you can go through life without it, however, with it you can’t believe the rewards you get. It is a gift that you receive each day!

You wrote that you have discovered that your mom is not religious. How wrong you are. She has gone through so much in her life and it is her religious belief that has helped make her stronger as she tackled each new problem. I remember when you and Mike got married; she bought glass dishes to help you keep kosher.

Maybe your mom is afraid of dying, it is the unknown, however, don’t judge her by that. She has spent her life with G-d by her side and she has tried to pass it on to her children and grandchildren because she knew what a gift it was.

Love, Dorothy

On Sun, Mar 7, 2010 Judy wrote:

Dear Dorothy,

I phrased it wrong! I think words can be so powerful, and it is important to be careful to make sure my message is properly conveyed. What meant to convey, was not that my mom was less religious, but actually that she was less rigid!

Her rigidity in following Jewish law was very hard for me. It seemed that her way was the “right” way. There are many Jewish laws to follow, but she chose certain ones and adhered to them strictly. Here’s an example: She cut her knuckle deeply with a knife during a Jewish holiday. For two days, she refused to go to a doctor. She wouldn’t go in a car until the holiday was over. Her knuckle never healed properly; it ended up requiring surgery and is still deformed to this day.

I am not judging my mom negatively by her fear of death; her mother had it, too. I am actually more connected with her for being so human. Her new flexibility in not being so set on going to temple is extremely refreshing for me.

Maybe just as I have discovered opening up, I will find more faith someday. That is something I might want, but cannot find.

By the way, my mom did give me a set of glass dishes; it was assumed that I would keep Kosher. One of my most very challenging moments was confronting her when I decided a few years after being married, not to keep kosher.

I is ironic to me that I ended up with a son who is an avowed atheist and a vegetarian.

Thanks for your message, Dorothy. I appreciate your honesty and how much you have shared with me.

Love, Judy

This picture was taken at my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2010. 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.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
This entry was posted in Grief Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s