I’M READY TO LIVE ON MY OWN

Today, my older brother and his wife helped me move most of my belongings into the coop apartment where I plan to officially live starting in another week.

I am standing on that same walkway in this picture from when I was 8 years old.

“The tunnel”

The light at the opening to my tunnel was blinding me. I had closed my eyes because they hurt. I finally stopped crying and gently wiped away my tears.

 

I was lying on the ground. I kept repeating three words over and over again. They were: temporary, adjust and accept.

 

I had cried over my frustration of not being able to move. But then I realized that I had stopped moving not because I was stuck, but because it was simply not time for me to exit.

 

I had sprinted to the opening so rapidly, far too soon. This was the time to rest and gather my strength. I understood now.

 

I felt empty because the music that had accompanied me had stopped; it was so quiet. I listened carefully for my inner voice, but it was also silent. As I rested, I began to feel stronger. I decided that I didn’t need to hear anything. I maintained faith that the silence would end soon.

 

One day, my world would be filled with more songs than I could ever imagine. Gorgeous new melodies would accompany me through my life.

I love the memories a photo can inspire. I know as I looked over that wall at the Grand Canyon – I was imagining I could fly over it. I can’t believe I ever had hair long enough for pigtails!

“You deserve to be happy”

It was Saturday, the day before my birthday and three days since my eye surgery. For several days I didn’t feel well. The queasiness finally subsided, but I was disappointed that I had lost control of my eating once my appetite returned.

 

I hated the way my eye felt. There was a funny sensation near my lower eyelid. It was as if my eye had a loose piece of jello in it. The blurry area caused me to keep my eye half-closed. I wished I knew how long it would take for the cortical chip to be absorbed. I was grateful that the dimness was starting to lift, but the lump was definitely annoying.

 

My next appointment with the surgeon wasn’t for another week. Staying positive was a huge challenge for me, and I didn’t feel like smiling much.

 

I looked in the mirror and could see I wasn’t at my best. My hair was wildly sticking out and my gray roots were annoying. How I hated dealing with those roots every three weeks! I just told myself that I had to let go of caring about my appearance during this trying time in my life.

 

In the morning, I was glad I had an appointment with my hypnotherapist, Connie. Before I drove, I put on dark glasses like the ones my aunt used to always wear.

 

Connie had remembered my birthday. My smile returned when I read her sweet birthday card. It had a picture of a bird soaring on the front. She wrote a personal message to me and my favorite line was, “You deserve to be happy.” I certainly agreed with that!

 

I didn’t know what Connie could help me with; I had so many things going on in my life.

 

I told Connie how much I had missed having voice lessons with Peaches for the last three weeks. Much of the time during those lessons, Peaches and I laughed hysterically and that laughter sustained my soul. I realized how much I needed it after going three weeks without it. Peaches had cancelled our lessons and didn’t give me a reason, so I was concerned. But she finally called me and we had a lesson in the afternoon. When I saw her, I hoped to find out what was going on.

 

I was not allowed to lift anything for two weeks after my eye surgery. Most of the time, I was working on audio editing for my book. It was tedious.

 

My ear was so critical when listening to audio stories and music that I wasn’t enjoying listening anymore. No wonder the joyful feeling had stopped. I felt empty.

 

There were no major revelations for me during hypnosis. I felt stressed and forced myself to let go so I could escape into the calmness and peace. As I drifted off, I thought about what it meant to let go.

 

Letting go was something I was living with every moment of my day.

 

I was letting go of possessions I didn’t need, letting go of my old lifestyle and routine, letting go of worrying about my husband’s needs, letting go of missing my parents, letting go of my former eyesight, letting go of memories that brought me sadness – it was an unrelenting and constant process for me.

 

However, all that “letting go” did not allow anything to enter in.

 

That was why I was empty!

My mother is posing at the entrance to the carport of the coop. I love her outfit.

“Sharing my new life”

A few moments after I came home, my mother and her companion, Miriam, joined me for lunch. Miriam offered to color my hair for me, which I appreciated very much. As she dabbed hair color over my gray roots, we caught up on things. My mother sat next to me in her wheelchair and I was grateful to see her.

 

My mother certainly loved me and I was soaked up her radiant smile as she examined my face. Before my hair color was even applied, she said, “Your hair looks beautiful.” I wanted to cry when she said that!

I wasn’t sure whether my mother comprehended what was going on in my life. She would often say words that made no sense and I usually nodded and pretended I understood. She didn’t seem to notice that there were boxes everywhere.

 

When my parents lived with me, I knew it was sad for them to be reminded of their former life. My father hardly maintained the coop apartment, and he would sort through a tiny box for hours, oblivious to being surrounded by mountains of trash.

 

I had mentioned to my mother on a few occasions that we could go back to the coop and take things she might want. There were clothes and many items she had left there after she became ill. I thought perhaps she missed the old neighborhood where she had lived for so many years.

 

But her eyes became clouded and sad when I suggested it. It was clear that she did not want to think about how much her life had changed.

 

My mother could not go back.

 

The apartment remained practically untouched through the five years while my parents lived with me to the time they both entered skilled nursing. A granddaughter lived there for a few years, and she lived amidst the clutter. My father was adamant that she not move a single thing.

 

Whenever I visited that cluttered coop, it was as if time had been frozen. Since my father hated to throw anything away, the dining room table was cluttered with items of daily life: coins, stamps, receipts, and endless papers. I could easily picture my mother cooking in the kitchen. All of her knickknacks and recipes were still on the counter.

 

In a week, I would be sleeping in my parents’ bed, in their old bedroom.

 

I wondered now how it would be for my mother to see her old apartment. It had taken ten dumpsters to dispose of my father’s trash due to his hoarding obsession. It now had refinished hardwood floors, which I had discovered under the old carpet a few weeks earlier. She would hardly recognize it.

 

But she would certainly remember the dining room with the black and white linoleum tiles I had grown up with.

I found this picture of our family dog, Teddy. It displays the black and white floor perfectly!

In a few weeks after I was situated, I planned to invite Miriam and my mother over. My mother’s dementia had advanced considerably this past year, and I wondered if seeing the old apartment would still make her sad.

 

I hoped I wasn’t being selfish and that she would be ok seeing it. The truth was that I really wanted to share my new life with her.

This photo is from a Super 8 movie. I was able to take a snapshot when it was converted to a DVD. My mother is holding me as an infant after coming home from the hospital. My older brother, Norm, is behind her.

“Bye, bye Peaches”

I went to my voice lesson and was overflowing with things to share with Peaches. I had finished recording a vocal for my newest song “My Dream,” and was very pleased with it. I had two other songs I was working on that required more vocal takes and I wanted her input.

 

There wasn’t enough time to even do music with all the catching up between us. I anticipated that Peaches was going to give me some heavy news.

 

Peaches told me she was leaving the area and starting a new life also. Once again, it was interesting for me how many parallels our lives had. She was going through a door into a new life just as I was.

 

I was happy and hopeful that she would have a better life. But at the same time, I was having trouble accepting that I wouldn’t be working with her in the same way anymore.

 

This required more letting go for me.

 

I left our lesson and my emptiness became larger.

The book I found in my nightstand that my mother gave me in 1987.

“Remembering my mother”

It was evening now. I wasn’t sure what to do. My eye was bothering me and I didn’t want to do any more work on my computer.

 

I needed to spend more time packing, but couldn’t to anything that required exertion. Other than my bedroom dresser and a few kitchen areas, there really wasn’t much left for me to do.

 

Then I remembered my nightstand. It was filled with many books, and it had been a long time since I’d read anything. With my poor eyesight and preference for music, I wondered if I would read again.


But many of those books were special, and I planned to save them anyway. WIth a box nearby, I opened my nightstand and emptied the books onto the floor. There were many I could discard, and I considered that I might read some of those special books again. With my new life and a quiet bedroom, it was intriguing to consider.

 

There was a tiny book. I opened it and gasped. There was an inscription on it from my mother to me and it was for my birthday. This was no coincidence. There was definitely a reason for me to find this book.

 

I began to read it. I heard my mother’s voice and felt my father beside me. My emptiness began to fill up with their love.

 

My mother had given me the book in 1987, which was the year Jason was born. She must have known I needed courage to face dealing with his heart defect. I wondered if she could have imagined that I would be reading this book so many years later while going through a divorce.

 

Every year on my birthday, she would admonish me weeks ahead of time that it was very important for us to go shopping so she could get me something special for my birthday. The year before, I was sad when I thought of that, so I went out and bought some new earrings for myself.

 

In my mind, I pretended that she had given them to me.

 

As I read the book and tears streamed down my cheeks, I decided she had given me the best birthday present ever this year.

a

A picture of me with Norm when we were younger. He is seven years older than I am.

“My actual birthday”

Every week, my brother and his wife joined me, my mom and Miriam for lunch at a restaurant nearby to my mother’s nursing facility. Before my father died, he had loved seeing us and now it was a special ritual with my mother. For many years, I saw my brother, Norm, and his wife, Jo, only a few times a year – even though we lived in the same city. Now I was seeing them weekly and we had also become much closer with my father’s death.

 

My brother listened every week to my travails. Having gone through a divorce many years before, he kept telling me from experience that I needed to get out of my home as quickly as possible. He insisted that sleeping in the same bedroom with my husband was toxic.

Another picture from a family vacation. My other brother, Howard, is on the left side.

The week before he said to me, “How about on your birthday? Jo and I can get you moved in and we can do it in one day. We will help get you there!”

 

I accepted their offer. My plan was to use professional movers a week later. They would bring over the heavier pieces of furniture, my teenagers’ beds and the refrigerator.

 

It was Sunday. Norm and Jo first took me to lunch to celebrate my birthday, and my youngest son joined us. My son decided on his own that he wanted to come along and help.

 

After our lunch it was time to get to work.

 

My oldest son had already moved many boxes for me a few days before my eye surgery. My entire art studio was there, waiting for me to unpack it, but I had no idea where I would put everything. The black and white dining room floor was covered with boxes.

 

I was not allowed to lift anything, and I sprinted after my brother and pointed to the boxes and items we would take with us. Their car filled up quickly with my clothes and because my van had plenty of room, I decided to bring additional boxes from my closet. I could not discard any of those items even if I seldom looked at them. There was a box of seashells and then there was a box that held items related to Jason. I could put those items in the storage area near my parking space at the coop.

 

I drove my minivan and Norm and Jo drove their car. We parked in the carport and they began unloading the boxes and clothes.

 

I told my youngest son to bring certain boxes over to the storage unit. He hesitated and told me he didn’t want to carry one of the boxes. He said, “Mom, it’s just too sad for me to carry the box that is about Jason.”

 

I let him know I understood. He asked me what was inside, and I told him it was filled with items that held memories of Jason. He paused and reconsidered; then he went to pick it up. I lifted the lid and showed him Jason’s lunch box, tiny underwear, and ceramic hand print. My son was a large boy of 15 and he marveled at how small Jason was.

He stood up and wrapped his arms around me to give me a big hug.

In the upper right corner it says, “Fix ding on the wall.” My son accidentally marked the new paint on his wall while trying to move his game chair around. His video game system is his obsession and he’s excited to figure out where to put it.

“I was still able to smile after all”

It had been a long day, even though I hadn’t lifted anything! I was too tired to have them help me unpack any boxes. For some reason, the weather had become hot again. We all collapsed.

 

All four of us sat in the dining room. I was so appreciative of what Norm and Jo had done for me. My brother and I reminisced about the life we had once lived in that coop. Jo became teary and mentioned that it felt unbelievable not to see my parents living there anymore.

 

My youngest son was enthused about his new room. He asked me for a pen and paper so he could draw a design for his room. When I saw his drawing, I was impressed and asked him if I could share it on my blog. I was surprised when he said I could.

 

As we were leaving, my son took a few pictures for me. I decided that turning 53 wasn’t so bad.

I was still able to smile after all.

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Little girl Judya

© 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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