I have created artwork for each one of the 33 stories in my book. I love this picture of myself when I was 20 with my eyes closed in a dream-like state. The sky and butterflies are my original illustrations.

Link to performance, recordings and other stories about my song SO REAL


Original Song by Judy Unger – Copyright 2010


This morning when I woke up it slipped my mind

That you are not here with me anymore

I smiled at the thought of your gentle, warm laughter

And dreamt of my next carefree moment with you


It all seemed so real; it all seemed so real

Until I remembered, I thought it was real

Here I could feel; here I could feel

Until I remembered, your absence was real


This morning when I woke up it slipped my mind

That you are not here with me anymore

There were so many things that I wanted to tell you

I thought it could wait; there was plenty of time, ‘cause




This morning when I woke up I felt you close by

I still heard your voice and my heart felt so full

Then I recalled all the things that had happened

The moment was gone dreaming you might be there


I opened my eyes and the anguish overwhelmed me

I closed them again and I pictured your soul soaring free


It all seemed so real; it all seemed so real

I know it’s because I just wished it were real

All I could feel, all I could feel was my pain

Oh, how I wished you were real



During my bereavement, I had endless flashbacks that played over and over again. I could not control them at all. I believe that it was my mind’s way of trying to accept that my son’s death was real. The hardest part of each and every day was waking up. I would have to wake up and face the unbelievable truth that I would never, ever see my beloved child again. I would never hear his voice, feel his touch or smell his sweet hair.



When I said goodbye to my beloved child, I lost of a piece of my soul. During my deep grief, there were times I wanted to die. It was less about feeling suicidal and more about how difficult it was to go on living. It really did feel as if there was no end in sight. Sleep was my escape from the anguish of grief, and that was if I was so fortunate as to fall asleep.

My song, “So Real,” was about waking up to the awareness of what was unbearable to face. I did not want to wake up. I would lie in bed, wishing my life were over. I begged for relief from the anguish and wondered why I had to live with that level of pain. It seemed endless and I never believed it was possible that I would ever be happy again.

Those words I wrote above, were how I used to feel. Many things changed for me when I expressed my sadness through music and writing. I began to look at my survival differently after I healed.

My son died in 1992 and my deepest grief lasted for at least ten years. After that I was devoid of emotion. I regret that I was so busy surviving that I forgot how to enjoy life. After many years of bereavement, I lived an existence of feeling “numb” without any emotional connection to life. I suspect that many people are in that place; also, very few people escape adversity at some point in their lives.

I was so afraid to allow myself to feel again. But what really held me back from finding joy was that I didn’t feel my happiness was important – or even possible. I thought the achievement of simply surviving was miraculous; so it took time for me to accept that I did more than just survive. I was blessed. That is why sharing my message of finding happiness is very important.

Yet even with joy, I still feel pain. I believe that experiencing pain is necessary and part of the full spectrum of being alive. I turn my pain into music and song lyrics; after that, my pain is diminished. Recently, when I have had to deal with the unrelenting stress of my parents’ decline, I simply listen to my music and then I am soaring. My passion for music has me dancing throughout my day, enraptured by the beautiful melodies that loop inside my mind whether I am physically listening or not. My music continues to lead me to magical places. Even my most painful songs allow for the heartache to actually flow out of me as I sing the lyrics and play my guitar.


Below is a link to my story about Jason.




I share this image I copied from an Internet news story lead. It just blows my mind how grief is perceived by those who are ignorant of it. How could anyone dare write that Whitney’s mother is “still mourning?” Putting the word “still” there totally insults all human beings suffering with loss.



The ache in my heart

goes everywhere with me

it follows me through time

and never really leaves

With every breath I push it away

and hope it won’t remain

because I can’t accept

that it will stay with me for the rest of my life.

But four years later, it’s still there . . .

In the loudest or quietest moment

I strain to remember your voice

In the daylight or in darkness

 I’m searching for your face

In the happiest of times, the ache in my heart

reminds me that tragedy can always strike

The thought of more agony

than your loss alone is unbearable

So, sometimes I wish the pain away

and pretend it never happened

or it happened to somebody else

or maybe you’re better off

Or maybe I am, too

But it never really matters

because the ache in my heart never leaves

I guess the ache inside is what remains

and though the pain is no longer raw

I can’t believe that time can heal

How can my heart ever heal

when it continues to bleed?

I look at this image and find it hard to imagine that my son actually existed to make those prints.

 © Judy Unger and 2012. 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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7 Responses to IT ALL SEEMED SO REAL – PART 2

  1. beebeesworld says:

    This made me cry-I do the same thing-touch his clothes, smell them, pick up the last outfit he wore and cuddle it, look at pics of him when he was little. Life sucks-I cant think of much I would not do to have my son aive and well. Thanks for reading…beebeesworld


  2. beebeesworld says:

    love ya, at last we arent alone….beebee


    • Judy says:

      It is so true – once you’ve lost a child there is a certain kinship with anyone suffering from that horrible loss. It is such a horrible thing to experience, but for me it led to lasting connections. Sorry for what brought us together and I love you, too! Thanks so much for your comment; it means a lot to me.


  3. beebeesworld says:

    Judy, your thoughts, courage, pain, determination always touch me. It helps to know that someone out there has to see the world through the same glasses that I do-even if your seem to have found a tiny rose tint and mine are still very dark. Love ya, beebee


    • Judy says:

      Thank you for your sweet message, beebee – it means a lot to me. I often think of you. I know I can’t bring your son back, but I sure wish you could regain your health. It must be so hard dealing with that. I’m glad how we are able to support each other. Wish we could meet someday. If you’re ever out near Los Angeles – let me know!


  4. I can relate to this poetry. In the first year or so after Nolan’s death, I wrote a lot of poetry. Well, in my youth, i seemed to write often, then didn’t for years. So whatever I wrote in 2013 & 2014 seemed like a lot. anyway, i’ve drifted from it. but i need to try more . Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      For me, it was such a release to write about my son’s death 18 years later. It was amazing how raw it was. But then I felt so much lighter. Writing is also a great way to see progres with grief. I believe very much that healing is possible, but I never believed it when I was suffering deeply in the beginning. It is a lifelong journey.


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