I took this photo in the early morning as I went outside to get my newspaper. The dazzling light is more blinding for me these days with my cataracts. My surgeries are scheduled, with the first eye to be done in two weeks, and the second eye to follow three weeks later.



It was getting harder to see. My eyes did not want to open. In my solitude, I tried to stay positive, but clarity and focus eluded me.


Sometimes, I squinted in the distance to find the castle. It was usually there and although I was certain it was closer, I needed to search carefully to see it. But every time I raised my face upwards, my eyes closed because the light dazzled my senses. Then one day, the castle simply disappeared in the haze.


Still, I knew that it was ahead of me. Although it was a steep climb, I didn’t need to see the castle to get there. But as I continued to struggle upward, it became too exhausting. Finally, I had to lie down on the ground. I began to cry. My eyes hurt and I closed them. I didn’t want to look at the world’s blurriness anymore.


Amazingly, with my eyes closed I could see. I escaped inside my mind and music permeated me. I was flying and soaring over beautiful lush landscapes. Gorgeous color, sights and smells surrounded me. My music was like a symphony and as it swelled, I could feel my heart burst with joy.


The song that was playing was called “Clear.” The line I heard over and over was, “I opened my eyes and my life became clear.”


Soon, I would see again. God had sent me my song to remind me of that simple truth.

 Clicking the blue links play an audio clip.

If you have an extra moment to listen, have a huge laugh listening to a discussion of my music with Peaches Chrenko, my vocal coach. I also share an update about my life.



n this picture, I’m with my childhood buddy, Steven. Both of us are dressed up in Halloween costumes.

Steven is in front of my coop. The walkway is almost the same 40 years later.

A picture with Steve from 2011. We correspond by email almost daily about music.

Below is something I decided to share on this post because it speaks to my acuity. As an illustrator, I had excellent up-close vision. My current eye problem is related to seeing distance. I am hopeful that after my two upcoming cataract surgeries, I will see clearly again and marvel at the beautiful colors in the world.


When I was in high school, I was allowed to have one page of notes for a biology test. When I found this page in my father’s memorabilia after he died – I was incredulous at my patience. I wrote on both sides of this paper, and my writing was so teeny tiny that it was unbelievable!

A close up.

I end my post with some email correspondence. My words are in blue.


Message from a grief forum:


My beautiful 34-year-old son died yesterday. I am walking around in a fog. I can’t sit, I can’t stand, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I don’t seem to fit anymore. I sob uncontrollably at times and feel very bitter and angry with others. I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I can survive. My husband says we will get through; we have to. I can’t see that happening. I need someone to tell me that this pain will go away, that the ache will subside. I just want to curl up in a ball and pull the covers over my head.


My reply:


Your description of shock and intense grief is exactly how I felt. I am crying for you now. Of course, it does not feel survivable. Hearing that “time heals” is useless when every moment is like torture.


Even though I can tell you that the ache will subside, this process is the hardest thing you will ever go through. You can never go back to how it used to be. Eventually, some of this might make sense – but until then, you are simply living something that is worse than any horror movie imaginable.


It is very soon for you to think of healing, but it is a good sign that you want to get through this. You are motivated. So I am going to give you hope because you are going to heal. 


Unfortunately, you are now in a tunnel of torment. But you are going to find a way out. Your son is going to lead you. Hold hands with others who are grieving so you are not alone. Many, many hands are going to lift you up if you reach out.


Love, Judy


Message from a grief forum:


I was a good daughter throughout my mother’s four-year decline, I was there for her and advocated for her; I always told her I loved her. 

A little over three weeks ago, she was hospitalized after being non-responsive at the nursing home. The second day there she didn’t look like she would survive. The next day she was awake and more aware, though unable to speak. I got her to eat and then she aspirated on some water I gave her and declined quickly after that.


That night, at 3 a.m., I got a call from the hospital that she was declining. I wondered whether I should go there, but I decided not to — I just couldn’t bear to see her failing anymore. 

Then, at 7 a.m., I got a call that she was declining further and I told them only to provide comfort care. A little over an hour later, she died.


I know there’s no going back, but now I torture myself with whether this was the one time when I put myself before my mother, that I tried to protect myself (you can see how well it worked!) and wasn’t there when she took her last breath. 

A little over a week before, even before she ended up in the hospital, we had a long moment where I felt like we were saying good-bye to each other, as if she had started the transition. Yet I can’t help but feel, at times, like in the end, I failed her…


If you listen carefully, you will hear your mother’s voice in your mind. She will comfort you.


She will tell you that a single moment of avoidance of pain does not define you or make you a “bad daughter.” Avoiding trauma and seeing death was something you had to do. You were protecting yourself. That is something you don’t need to beat yourself up about.


Of course, everyone wishes at those moments to be courageous. Perhaps at another point in your life, you will be able to handle things differently. I believe that will happen for you. In grief, there is so much pain already and it is important to be gentle.


Please forgive yourself. Cherish your mother’s memory by listening carefully to what she would tell you. She is right there within you.


Love, Judy


Message to a family friend:


Glad I could share those pictures!


I’m going to be okay. I have not doubted my decision to divorce at all and have suffered for a long time trying to get up the courage to tell my family. It’s so interesting that when I wrote my song “Set You Free” – it was for my father, but it had a lot of deeper meaning for me!


I devoted myself to many people for a long time and my kids are now older (15, 18 and 21). Having a companion for my mother has saved me. I am blessed by having Miriam, who adores my mom. 


When I discovered my love for writing and music, I realized how empty my marriage was. I accepted it for decades, but decided that being alone is much better for me. I have confidence that everything will eventually be okay for him, too.


Thanks for caring and I’ll let you know how my eye surgery goes.


Love, Judy 


Her reply:


Dear Judy,

Life is finding and accepting our meaning for being alive. No one can give it to us and ultimately we each have to discover our own way. But, we cannot in the process isolate ourselves from our loved ones. They are on their own adventure and following their own path. Loneliness occurs when we wrap ourselves in our own thoughts and needs exclusively. You have been a cherished child. You have faced losing both beloved parents simultaneously. Let your family into your heart. Try and talk to them. Your children will be your children as long as you live and they never will stop needing you. You cannot be replaced. Do not close off from those whose love is engraved on your heart. You are not alone.

My response:


Oh, I’m not leaving my children. I deserve companionship and I am not truly alive when I am in the company of someone I don’t enjoy being with. It isn’t fair to him either – he deserves to be with someone who appreciates his company.


I’m sorry, but I believe my heart is open to the world. Perhaps I was a cherished child, but now I am a cherished adult woman who knows her own value. I have not been hugged in 10 years. Why should I live that way? My husband would never have changed anything because like most people he is afraid of change.


Now that I am helping you to understand my situation, you must realize that I accept my past and have no regrets. I am simply discovering my own way by leaving the isolation I’ve lived with for decades.


I embrace the world now by writing, sharing and singing. Also, I will have two of my children with me. They are leading their own lives and I will always be there for them.


I might be alone, but I am not lonely.


Love, Judy


Message to my high school music teacher, Frankie:


I am not in a good place right now. Very, very down. I went to have dinner with a good friend – to celebrate her birthday. While driving home, the lights were blinding me and I had a full-blown panic attack. I almost had an accident. It was a close one. I won’t be driving anymore at night. 


Love, Judy


Dear Judy,


Staying away from night driving is crucial with your current eye problem, as you learned. I also have cataracts that need surgery, but most of my driving is during the day, fortunately.


You are in the midst of eye difficulty, paternal loss and marriage break-up. Any one of those in a person’s life would be a major event. It is understandable that you will have rough days. Please take care of yourself and know that you will come out on the bright side of all of this.


With warm hugs and lots of love,



Thanks, Frankie. You are so right. I am quite used to having major events in my life. They just keep knocking at my door. I was able to be stronger when I could see things. It’s been challenging even to use my computer. The light hurts.


The marriage break-up is sad and it is hard watching my family adjust. But they seem to be and it is far better than when I had to keep it all inside.


Thankfully, my music helps me. I feel your hugs.


Love, Judy

This is how I see things, lately. I recently performed at Kulak’s Woodshed and had a one hour performance. I loved every moment of it.

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