The tunnel was dark and filled with stifling heat. Most of the timed I was soaked in sweat. Still, I moved forward with determination and accepted all pain. No matter how discouraged I was, I reminded myself that with each step I was getting closer to the end.


My music accompanied me in the darkness and buoyed me; it was my magical elixir. I felt peaceful because all of my songs spoke to me with their wisdom. When I suddenly saw a pinhole of light, I began to step up my pace in order to reach the end. I was relieved because this time it did not flicker away as it had a month ago.


As the light grew brighter, I felt myself begin to smile. My soul stirred with wonderment and happiness again. An autumn breeze cooled me and my heart felt light. In the past, seasonal change brought a familiar ache, but this time I was filled with promise and peacefulness. The brightness ahead of me became more intense, so I closed my eyes and pictured myself exiting the tunnel. My arms were outstretched and I was singing as I emerged. It was so glorious that there were no other words I could find to describe that moment.






It was eighteen years since I had last moved. My art studio held many areas for me to sort through. I dreaded the process of packing, and I found many excuses to put it off.


I had thought I would never paint again, but only the day before I corresponded with an art director regarding a new project. My art career still had a pulse! Although I preferred working digitally, there were times where I still painted. Once my cataract surgeries were over, I would need new close-up glasses. But my optimism about being an artist returned and I was certain I would be able to paint again.


Initially, it was excruciatingly difficult to tear myself away from working on my audio book and songs. I was so close to finishing everything. But packing was the only way I would be able to move forward so I could exit the tunnel I was in. Finally, I had to accept that I would not finish my book before moving.


If I received the large art assignment, finalizing and finishing my book would be even further delayed. I decided there was a reason for this. The right time to publish and promote my book would happen, even if it were later than I wanted. I was steadfast and certain that my journey would lead me to a time when I would emerge from obscurity and my life would take a completely different turn. The part that I looked forward to the most was helping many people with my comforting music and words.


Yesterday when I began packing up my studio, it was hot. I sweated and carried heavy boxes into the living room. My hands were blackened from going through so many dusty items. But then I discovered something I hadn’t expected. It turned out that what I had dreaded was soothing. It felt really good to clean drawers out and throw useless items away!

I was purging.

Truthfully, I was a little anxious about whether I would be able to find things later on when I needed them. I also had no idea where I would put everything. I was going from a large house into a small two-bedroom apartment without much closet space.

I planned to make the living room where I was moving into my art studio/computer area. I could easily live without a couch and television; my two children would make their bedrooms into their own living spaces. For sure, it would be challenging sharing one bathroom with my two teenagers. I created a third bedroom the same way my parents did when I was young; I had a wall built that divided the living room. As a result, my studio would be fairly small.


A beautiful picture of my parents went they were first married.

I started by emptying two, large file cabinets. I sorted through piles of photo reference, organized printed samples into folders, tossed away cardboard shipping supplies (I sent everything digitally now), and put an amazing array of small items into boxes. Although it was tedious at times, I listened to my music as I worked. The time passed and I was inspired by how productive I was.

As I packed, I relived so many memories. It wasn’t hard to let go of my identity as an artist, because I far preferred my music and writing. But it was hard to let go of ellipse guides, large pads of marker paper, and many items I knew I’d probably never use again. With every item I examined, I remembered the painting related to it. Although it was difficult at first, after awhile it became easier and I began to feel lighter. I planned to give many of the items to students who would appreciate my donations.

The next day I took a break. I had begun to feel the seasonal change and longed to breathe some fresh air. I hadn’t gone outdoors much during this past sweltering summer. On a whim, I decided to do something special for my mother and her companion, Miriam. I wanted to take them to a restaurant named “Inn of the Seventh Ray.” I had never been there, but heard that it was delightful and situated in a canyon.

I called Miriam to let her know I was in the parking lot and she met me there. After helping my mother from her wheelchair into my minivan, Miriam gently inserted hearing aids into my mother’s ears. My mother beamed with joy and babbled to me in the front seat.

As I drove, Miriam and I caught up on things. I was grateful to have Miriam to talk to and was glad she was now my close friend. I shared with her that I felt like I would soon be emerging from my tunnel. My second cataract surgery was in only one more week. I told her I had found out the day before that my new eye measurements showed I didn’t have an astigmatism. I was elated because I would not have to pay the additional $1,000 fee now. But I was concerned during my pre-op appointment when the nurse commented that I had a strange heartbeat. As he listened with his stethoscope, I felt my heart flutter and did not like the feeling at all.

My irregular heartbeat was first discovered five months earlier when my father was dying and before I announced to my husband that I wanted to divorce. I was told that the extra beat was in rhythm and not considered dangerous.

Still, I had hoped it went away. The nurse suggested that after my surgery I address the condition with my doctor.

As I left the nursing home, I put on my latest song arrangement to share with Miriam and my mother. Music was my magical elixir and gave me so much pleasure. Earlier in the week, I had worked on an older song – it was one that I had written when I was 19 for my husband before we were married.

I listened to my song’s lilting melody and a feeling of nostalgia overwhelmed me. I remembered how I felt when I wrote it at the age of 19. My songs held so many lessons for me.

At that time, my feelings were so pure and innocent; I was unsure about whether my love would endure. I was married prior to my big wedding at the age of 20. My own parents were married for 61 years, and I was dedicated and committed to being married. My marriage weathered many challenges over a period of 31 years.

I wondered why I had chosen to work on that particular song. I had no answer except that this song made me feel young again. For such a long time, I had avoided singing love songs. But now, I planned to improve all of my older songs and I looked forward to creating new arrangements for many of them.

Working on my music was like breathing for me. My husband never understood the joy I received from my music. He was rightfully worried about my lack of income, and did not see much future in music as a possible second career for me. I was actually relieved now that I had freed him of those expenses.

This past week, George was especially kind to me. We had worked together now for two years and he told me that he often found himself humming the melodies to many of my songs.

We worked on my song “What You’ve Meant To Me.” First, we refined the original arrangement with some spectacular improvements, and then we created an instrumental by adding the melody line. I looked forward to singing a new vocal for it, because my voice had improved a lot since the year before when I last sang it.

Clicking the first blue link below will play the instrumental version:




The link below is to another story about this song:




This beautiful song will be included in my second book. Even though I haven’t even finished my first book, I am already excited about my next project!

Finding these old photos after my father died, has given me great joy. It is amazing to see my mother this way – I love it!

The drive was beautiful as we drove through a shady canyon. My car gently swayed as I followed the curves; my mother was quiet while Miriam and I continued to talk. Miriam mentioned that a close friend of hers was also suffering with the end of her marriage and she said, “I hope you don’t mind that I lent your CD to my friend. We listened to it together and she said that after hearing your music, she felt much better. She asked me if she could keep it for a while, so please make me another copy when you have time.”


I smiled and told Miriam I was honored. This was the third time over the past week where I had heard such nice words about my music being soothing. I was especially touched when a good friend thanked me for helping her through a horrible migraine. Her exact words were, “Judy, my head was exploding but I just kept hearing your song, Hang On. It became my mantra until the headache passed!”


When we arrived at the restaurant, Miriam gasped with delight. My mother’s wheelchair bumped over a cobblestone path and her eyes were sparkling with delight. Our table was perfect, overlooking a shady and peaceful canyon. There were several trickling fountains, and the cascading water sounded almost musical. Our meal was delicious and delectable as we savored the experience.

I noticed how my mother was radiant and aware of my presence even if she couldn’t converse because of her dementia. Although she had little language, several times during our outing she was able to thank me clearly. That made it even more wonderful for me. I was so glad that I had made time to do this for my mother. I imagined myself singing the lyrics to her of “How special you were in my life, in my music.”

At the gift shop where we had out lunch, I snapped these photos.

When we were leaving, I mentioned to Miriam that in the morning I had looked on Craigslist for boxes; there was a listing, which was on our way home. They were of good quality and $30 was an excellent deal. If I were lucky, the boxes would still be available. I called and was relieved to hear that I could still get them. The woman on the phone gave me directions to her apartment.

When I arrived at a big apartment complex, I wasn’t sure which building was the correct one. I called back; the woman on the phone told me she had just moved in and wasn’t sure how to describe which building she was in. Finally, I found it. Thankfully, my mother looked relaxed and Miriam waited in the car with her. I bounded up the stairs, found the apartment and knocked on the door.

The woman who answered had an exotic accent and was quite beautiful. I noticed she had a young son who was resting on a couch. The flat boxes were stacked near the front door. She said she would help me carry them to my car.

As we gathered handfuls of boxes, I opened up to her. I told her that I would be living on my own for the first time in my life after ending my marriage of 31 years. In the several trips back and forth to my car she shared with me, too. I found out that she was also going through a divorce.

I shared that I had weathered a lot in my marriage. I explained that my writing and music had given me clarity and joy. She seemed interested in the book I told her I was working on. I explained that it was about my music healing me from my grief. When I mentioned I had lost a child she said, “I can’t imagine how you could live through that.” It turned out that her young son was five-years-old, which was the same age that Jason was when he died. Tomorrow would mark the 20th anniversary of his death.

It took some squeezing and adjusting, but everything was able to be stacked in my minivan. I thanked this young woman and then I impulsively hugged her. I thought about the idea that those boxes could tell an interesting story.

I planned to share them with my husband when I was finished with them. He had a lot of things to pack in his garage. The fact that I had paid for them with my own money even felt good.

I could hear her voice as I drove my mother and Miriam back to the nursing facility. This woman whom I had only spent ten minutes with touched me greatly.

She had said to me with complete earnestness, “I had a big house and now that I’m in this small apartment, I am so happy. You are going to love it once you have moved into your own place. Trust me.”

I sure did.





© 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!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Krisztina Tarcsai says:

    Dear Judy! Just to let you know, you made my day yesterday! I feel as if I’ve known you a long time!! I love to meet wonderful people like you! You deserve everything!! I wish the very best for you! Can’t wait to listen to your songs and hear your book! Your new friend, Kriszti


  2. Karyn @ kloppenmum says:

    Change can be invigorating, Judy. I am so pleased for you!


I would love to hear your thoughts!

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

You are commenting using your 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 )

Connecting to %s