Clicking on the blue link below will play an instrumental version of my newest song, which I’ve named My Dream:

MY DREAM INSTRUMENTAL – Copyright 2012 by Judy Unger

Despite my seeing with one eye, I carried on over the past week. I attended a funeral for a good friend’s father. My friend, Marge, was so thoughtful and arranged to have someone drive me. The woman whom I spent the day with was someone I already knew. Her company was delightful and it was very meaningful for me to gain insight from her. She had gone through two divorces.


Before the graveside ceremony, I took a walk to find Jason’s grave. In only ten days, it would be twenty years since my son died.


I remembered how I could not find his grave the last time I was there. This time, there wasn’t a fallen tree covering it. Still, I walked and walked and knew I’d be close to it when I reached an area with other childrens’ graves. For ten minutes, I walked in circles up and down a hill. Just when I was about to give up, I found it.


My heart skipped a beat to see Jason’s familiar gravestone. I noticed how the grass arround it was overgrown; I dusted the stone off so I could read his name. For several minutes, I closed my eyes and allowed the sunshine to warm me. I imagined I could remember his voice and strained to feel his presence.


There wasn’t any pain, only peacefulness, as I carefully walked back to rejoin the funeral service I had come to attend.

I was very close with my mom throughout my life.

I was dreading the phone appointment from the Social Security office. I had called two weeks earlier to inquire about my mother receiving a death benefit due to my father’s passing. The person on the phone wanted to speak to my mother and told me to bring her into a Social Security office. I explained how difficult that would be because she had severe dementia and was in a nursing home. I decided instead to set up a phone appointment. I would bring her to my house and give it a shot – maybe she would miraculously answer some simple questions.

My mother was on Medi-Cal, and thankfully her nursing home cost was covered. The amount of the death benefit would pay for less than one week of her companion’s care, which my brothers and I paid for.

I was very close with my mom throughout my life.

I was so blessed to have such a wonderful companion for my mother. Her name was Miriam. Miriam brought my mother to my home a few minutes before the expected phone call. My mother looked relaxed and beamed at me with love, although she was gaunt and appeared tired.

I spoke very slowly and carefully as I explained to my mother that we would be receiving an important phone call. I let her know she would need to answer some simple questions. I wished I were a better actress so none of this would have been necessary. That way I could have pretended to be my mother on the phone and saved a lot of trouble. But six months earlier, I had tried to switch her Social Security bank account over the phone. The agent I spoke with caught on quickly and told me my voice was “too young” to be my mother. I was such a horrible liar!

A perfect opportunity for me to share a photo of myself when I was 10. I was about to perform in a play and my role required me to cry. I was told that I was very convincing.

I was direct and watched my mom’s expression as I tried to explain the reason for the phone call. It hardly seemed worth it. I surprised myself when I said, “Mom, dad died four months ago.”

She looked startled and replied emphatically, “Let’s wait. I know he’s coming and will be here soon.” She tried to stand up from her wheelchair as she said, “I need to go to see him.”

A beautiful picture of my parents, before they were married. They were married for 61 years before my dad died this past May.

At that moment, the phone rang and I was surprised when the lady said that it would be fine to only speak with me. I answered all of her questions. Then I asked her, “Don’t you need to speak with my mother? She’s right here. I thought that was the reason for this appointment.”


She was very empathetic and told me that it wasn’t necessary. But she said she could certainly say hello. My mother was watching me intently, so I decided to let her say hello. This lady from Social Security was so caring that I began to get quite choked up.


As I held the phone to my mother’s ear, her hearing aid began whistling. I couldn’t hear what the lady asked her, but my mother answered with, “Well, whoever you are – you’re young like I wish I were!”


I hung up the phone and reached over to squeeze Miriam’s hand. We were both laughing.


With relief that this was over, we all ate lunch together. As Miriam ate a salad, she also fed my mother carefully. My mother was now on a pureed diet due to the results of the “swallow test” she had been given the week before.


Being with Miriam was so comforting during this time in my life. Every day was fraught with turmoil, and my poor eyesight didn’t help. Miriam understood my pain so well as she struggled in her own life. She made me appreciate my circumstances because my children were older than hers and I had more financial resources.


Earlier that week, I shared my newest song with Miriam. She said that when she listened to it, she felt so peaceful and that it helped her. We began to talk about our dreams.


Miriam was very close with her father. Although he lived thousands of miles away and she hadn’t seen him in a long time, they spoke every day.


She said, “Whenever my father has hugged me, I always felt something amazing. His hug is warm and comforting; special in a way I cannot describe. I am safe. I have never, ever had that feeling with anyone else. I dream that someday I could discover that feeling again.”


I understood.

“My Life Became Clear”

In the waiting room, I closed my eyes and allowed the instrumental music of my most recent song composition to uplift my soul. I could listen to it over and over and each time the chords sailed in the chorus, my heart felt like bursting.

When she called my name, I had to strain to be sure because I was still listening to my music. I grinned, because I often felt like a teenager with my IPod glued to my ears. If she only knew how soothing my music was for me!

The optometrist had an Irish last name – Murphy. She had clear blue eyes and asked me how I was; I wasn’t sure how to answer her question. I told her, “I am in a living hell right now because I have only one eye that can see. And my eye that does see is so strong that I cannot read anything with it.“

Well, we’ll address that today,” she said confidently.

She thoroughly examined both my eyes. When she was finished she said, “Your eye that was operated on sees perfectly,” and then she added, “It will only get better, too, because it’s still healing.”

Then she shared that she had also had cataract surgery while in her fifties. I thought I was such an aberration, but I kept hearing it wasn’t as unusual as I thought. She said, “I wasn’t as nearsighted as you are, but I have loved the results from my cataract surgeries.”

It turned out that the whole purpose of this appointment was to decide how strongly to correct my remaining eye. It was an opportunity for me to have choices by wearing a soft contact lens to simulate the correction I would be having in two weeks.

I was floored when she said, “By the way, I hardly see an astigmatism. By next week, it might be completely gone. You must be sure not to wear a lens though, for five days before the appointment for those measurements.”

That meant five days of hell again, of seeing with only one eye. But I reminded myself that I had gotten through 13 days already, and those five days would take me to the finish line.

Then she added, “Your surgeon was smart to redo these measurements. Doing things this way, has allowed you to try out several mono-vision options. And by the way, you were really smart to have not worn your hard lens before coming to this appointment!”

I asked her, “Will I be charged for today’s visit?”

She replied, “Normally, you would and I was going to check with my supervisor about it. But, there’s no need. You will not be charged for this at all.”

Now I was really glad that I had waited to send my complaint letter!

I planned to send it so I could avoid the $1,000 extra charge for that astigmatism correction, which I hadn’t been told about initially. If this eye had been my first eye, I felt I would have suffered far less because I could have worn my glasses. I also anticipated I would be charged for contact lenses that would only be worn a week. Being a warrior had wasted a lot of energy and was another lesson for me.

The optometrist came back with a soft contact lens and placed it on my eyeball. I blinked and felt dizzy for a moment. My world came back into focus! I began to cry, but wiped the tears quickly so she would only think it was because of the lens.

Before I left, she made another appointment for me to return in a few days. She wanted me to try another lens correction that would give me increased close up vision. Then she introduced me to a kind older man who instructed me on the proper handling of soft contact lenses.

As I drove home, I was in awe again at how beautiful it was to be able to see with two eyes. I was completely choked with emotion.

It was then when I clearly heard my father’s voice.

He was chuckling and he enthusiastically boomed, “You see what a wonderful eye surgeon you have – I told you! It was a good thing you used him!”I was so glad my father was smiling from up above – instead of worrying about me. I drove and cried softly as I felt him hugging me.

I celebrated having two eyes with eyesight, even though it would only be until the weekend. I came home to find a check in the mailbox that I had been waiting for. My smile became bigger when I received a call asking me if I could play tennis on Friday morning. I had missed it so much and it would probably be a month before I was able to play again. My day was just getting better and better.


It was the Yarzeit or Jewish anniversary of Jason’s death day. I put out a memorial candle for him.


I decided to attend services at my temple; this was something that I did so infrequently that I could count only a few occasions where I had gone into temple in the last 25 years. I sat with a good friend and she held my hand. Being able to see made such a difference. On the following day, my temple had invited me to share my music for one hour. How wonderful it would be to have my eyesight for that!


My gratitude for my life was overflowing. I cried tears of joy as I stood up to say a memorial prayer.

EXCHANGES WITH A GRIEF FORM: (My words are in blue)

I wrote the message below as part of a continuing dialog with a woman named Sammi who recently lost her son.


Thank you for your kind words. It amazes me that you have been so compassionate and helpful to everyone on this forum, while struggling with your own agonizing grief.


I’m glad you shared that your son was an optometrist. I will carry that thought with me as you try to cope with his senseless death.


Your words about grief bring it all back for me, too. You are living through the endless replaying of your son’s life and death. I described it as “the opera of my son’s life and death.” Only someone who has gone through that truly understands the torture of it.


It would be a good time for you to find a grief companion. I know it takes effort, but you need to find someone who is currently going through this. Not a family member, of course. If you had someone else to stay close to with your feelings – you would have a hand to hold that will ease your suffering. There are people out there that are going through this as I write to you. It’s not enough to write to this forum. You must attend a support group and look to find someone you can partner with. 


Remember this – because I believe that will help you more than anything. It will take pressure off of your son and husband. You can call and scream and take baby steps back into the living with someone going through this, too.


You will know when you are ready.


On Oct. 6 of this year, it will officially be 20 years since my son died. As the season is beginning to change, I celebrate once again how much I have healed. I will always carry the amputation of my soul inside of me but I am peaceful. My life holds promise and I am grateful for the gift my son gave me, which inspires me to help others.


Love, Judy


Your story is my story, the only difference being, your son was 5 and mine was 34. The sadness is overwhelming and the pain never-ending.


The reason I keep writing to this group after twenty years of grief is to inspire hope. Of course, you know how it went with losing your mother so young – I am certain that was horrible. Eventually, you adjusted. But this is different. It is beyond horrible!


The sadness is overwhelming and you will always carry the memory of this pain. But the pain will end. It will – I promise. Please hold onto that. 


Grief is about crying, screaming and crawling. You carry on while the world goes on around you. I used to cry in my car whenever I drove anywhere. I would wipe away my tears and no one knew. This went on for years and years. I hated to wake up in the morning and wished I were dead.


But when the pain ends – you find yourself in a different place. It is a place of strength and appreciation. Perhaps when our life ends, the mystery will be solved and we will see our dead loved ones again. Until then, we are still alive and need to find a way to get through this. That is what they would want for us.


I am not a religious person, but I am going to pray for you. Even if the tiniest increment of your pain diminishes – it will be cause for celebration. Allow it and do not feel guilty!


Keep writing about your grief. Your own words will remind you someday of your progress.


Love, Judy

I took this picture before leaving the cemetery. The image spoke to me. It was about seeing new growth on an older tree.

© 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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