My electric Yartzeit candle for Jason.

Every year it’s always the same.

The anniversary of Jason’s death awaits me. There are so many emotions that surround all of this.

I have been very close to my mom throughout my life. When I was in my mid-twenties I finally went through a period of rebellion, which I believe was quite delayed. At that time, I confronted both my parents for their expectations that I would follow their pathway – mostly it was about religious choices, but there were also some deeper, more personal issues I have not yet written about.

Being that my mom was very religious, the fact that I scheduled Jason’s surgery the day before Yom Kippur was quite a burden for me to carry after he died. My parents purchased a very expensive plaque at their temple, and every year my mother reminded me to light a candle.

I had no problem with that at all. However, it always gave me two days to mourn. I still mourn his death on October sixth of every year, as well.

While in my twenties, one of the issues I had confronted my parents about was attending services. I felt forced throughout my childhood to attend services with them. Now they were forced to accept that I would no longer join them at their temple.

After my son died, I was zombie-like and unhappy for a long time. I did whatever helped me feel better. Therefore, I avoided attending services because being in a temple did not bring me any solace.

Tomorrow is Jason’s Jewish death day or “Yarzeit.” In two days, I will be performing my emotional song for him in front of a lot of people at my temple.

I did take my children to family services a few times, however, this Saturday would be the first time in twenty-five years attending an adult service on this holiday.

I’ve felt spiritual lately, and reborn. My voice and my soul are very connected. Although there is no guarantee I won’t make a mistake, I’ve decided I’m human and I’ll simply do the best I can when I play my song.

I’m ready.

A card I received from my mom – she always sent me cards every year. She hasn’t said anything this year yet.

A card I received yesterday from my friend, Susan. She has been so supportive of my writing and music.


9/16/10 SOUND CHECK PRACTICE RENDITION OF “BESIDE ME ALWAYS” – Original Song by Judy Unger, Copyright 2010

I drove to our temple for a sound check that was in preparation for my performance there on Saturday. Just that afternoon I had gone to have an electric pickup installed on my guitar. It was something I had waited awhile to do. Now I felt like a real musician and a “rocker!” (Just kidding about the rocker part.) I was eager to learn how to use the volume control and understand about my guitar’s “new sound.”

When I arrived, the temple choir was still practicing. Our temple has a new cantor whom I’d never met. She came over to me and warmly shook my hand. The cantor asked me, “Do you want to sit or stand behind the pulpit?”

I looked around the room. I told her I liked being out in front, and not behind anything. In fact, I wanted to stand right on the first step in front of all the people. I had already decided I would stand, and I had brought my favorite guitar strap with me.

The soundman inserted a wire into my new pickup. I hit a few notes of Farewell, and as the volume was brought up the room filled with beautiful notes. Both the cantor and soundman went to the back of the room. They motioned for me to “go ahead.”

“Okay, I’m going to run it through,” I said.

I began to play. I forgot my own song’s structure! I went right from the first verse into the instrumental. I recovered and played the second verse. Rather than repeat the instrumental, I went to the ending. I hit another wrong chord, but hoped it wasn’t noticed.

Despite making such a big error, I sang with my voice connected with my heart. It was noisy as I began my song. The temple choir was on a break and everyone was chatting away. After a few lines of my singing, the room became quieter.

The cantor was in the back when I finished. She walked forward down the aisle and came over to me. Tears were streaming down her face and her sniffling was audible. She was quite moved by my song.

She said, “You definitely need to say something about your song and your son – it makes it so meaningful because you are so honest!”

I haven’t yet decided what I’ll say.

© Judy Unger and 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!
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