My first-born son’s baby book.

Jason’s baby book. My first-born child died at the age of 5.

Mother's MessageJason Unger is sunshine in our lives. Admittedly those first months and year were the most difficult times I’ve ever faced, but my love for our beautiful boy gives me happiness I’ve never known. Jason is a sweet, delicate sensitive boy – he’s like a flower you never want to let go of and yet you only want to experience being around him because he brings so much joy. Because of Jason I know the world will be brighter. 

I know, because it’s that way for me.

Sad Babybook

My blog post title is a line of lyrics from my song “Never Gone Away.” I do believe there is nothing more meaningful than leaving something behind that touches other peoples’ lives. It is especially poignant when it happens without dying, too.

When you're gone


Judy & Rosa


When I separated from my husband, my housekeeper of 23 years was left without a job. Rosa was very close to all of my children. She cared for them from infancy on and she was there on the day I brought each one home from the hospital. Our parting of ways was inevitable and I am grateful that the transition went very smoothly. But I have been lonely without having Rosa there to talk to. She truly understood about my reasons for leaving and I’ve missed seeing her on a daily basis. One night a week, we reunite. It’s very special for both of us. Thankfully, she has adjusted and her new life has been going well.

Rosa began working for me shortly before my second son was born (he is in her lap). She primarily took care of him and was not with me when Jason died, because she was visiting Mexico at the time.

Rosa began working for me shortly before my second son was born (he is in her lap). She primarily took care of him and was not with me when Jason died, because she was visiting Mexico at the time.

“Three special women in my life”

I have been blessed by loving three very special Latina women in my life. I mentioned Rosa.


The second one would be Miriam, my mother’s companion. Miriam continues to keep my mother thriving while in a nursing home. She spends six days a week with my mother and has been such a blessing to our family.

Judy and Miriam

The third special woman I have loved is named Lupe.


There are times when I can look into my past and feel like I am a time traveler. Some moments are so crystal clear, that I can feel the impact even though many years have passed.


Long ago, I never expected I’d need a housekeeper. But when my first child was born with a serious congenital heart defect, I was not equipped to cope with his illness. Just remembering his infancy gives me chills. Jason’s defect was called “Transposition of the Great Vessels.”


I have shared many items and pictures on this blog and I am going to share more. At this juncture, I’ll share some images that are not flattering. But they do tell my story. Because I gained over one hundred pounds during my pregnancy, I was very overweight at that time.

In this picture, Jason’s scar is clearly visible on his chest. He had open heart surgery at 2 and ½ months of age.

In this picture, Jason’s scar is clearly visible on his chest. He had his first open heart surgery at 2½ months of age.

Lupe feeding Jason

Lupe was a young girl who came into my life a few weeks after Jason was born. The memory of meeting and hiring her is still quite vivid for me.

Jason was constantly crying. Lupe picked him up and he became quiet. Although she spoke not a word of English, she handled Jason like a pro.


I hired her on the spot. I did not speak Spanish, but somehow Lupe and I managed to communicate. Gradually she learned English from me and became fluent. Later on, the same thing also happened with Rosa and I.


I wrote briefly about Lupe on my post named: JASON MEANT “HEALER”

Lupe, Jason and Judy in parking lot

This morning, I was editing a song for my audio book with headphones on. I cocked my head, because I thought I heard an instrument I hadn’t noticed before in the mix.


Then I laughed, because it was the musical tone from my cell phone ringing nearby. I missed the call and didn’t recognize the number, but I decided to call back.


A woman answered and she said, “Judy, it’s Lupe, do you remember me?” My voice jumped an octave as I told her I most certainly did. I was so glad I had called back!


For half an hour we were laughing and crying; sharing about our lives. The last time we had spoken was perhaps a year after Jason’s death.


That meant we hadn’t spoken in almost twenty years.


It turned out that Lupe’s son had helped her to find me on the Internet. My phone number was on my illustration website, which I had only recently updated a week ago. Before that, the phone number wouldn’t have worked.


Lupe chuckled and said, “Judy, my family has asked me why I’ve saved pictures of Jason and your family for all these years – why I didn’t throw them in the trash. But I told them that your family was my family back then! They know everything, because I’ve talked about Jason many, many times. Remember how he wouldn’t eat?”


Of course, I remembered.

In this picture, Jason is giving out Halloween candy.

In this picture, Jason is giving out Halloween candy.

Lupe and I continued to reminisce. I told her how amazed I was that she figured out so many creative ways to feed him. Jason was extremely small and when he died at the age of five he only weighed 33 pounds. 

As we talked, I noticed there were tears pouring out from my eyes. They rolled and puddled upon my chest. Lupe told me she had found my blog and cried while reading my story about Jason.

I never imagined what my future held; that the young girl who cared for my sick cardiac child would be calling me all these years later.


Then Lupe said that it was important for me to know that Jason had definitely affected her life. I choked on my tears when she said, “Judy, there was something so special about Jason and I will never forget him.”


This phone call was indeed a gift. Only the day before, I had called a friend whose daughter died three months after Jason. I wanted to wish her a Happy New Year and share that I had moved. My friend thanked me for my call and said that I was the only one who remembered.


Now I was receiving my own blessing. I couldn’t believe it. My dead child, who had only lived five years, had made an impact on another person.


I savored the phone call and eventually it was time for me to go. Before hanging up, Lupe said she’d email me a picture of her family. I let her know I would do the same. It turned out that Lupe’s children were close in age to my children. She had maintained her marriage and I was happy for her.


I remembered how she was such a frightened young girl when she started working for me. At that time, she was twenty years old. I was so happy to hear how her life turned out.

Lupe & Jason on the grass

A few hours later I received Lupe’s email, which included a message and a beautiful family portrait. 

I cried and cried. It was because grief surfaced about the end of my marriage when I read her words. 

Grief amputated my soul. Grief was excruciating and torturous. My marriage suffered.

Lupe and Jason with Judy and Mike

I spent the rest of my day going through Jason’s box to search for pictures of Lupe.


As I explored, so many memories came back to me. Not all of them were sad. I laughed aloud when I saw the black and white photos where Lupe as a joke had switched Jason’s outfit with another infant girl she was also watching. My dear friend, Joni, had come for a visit and Lupe insisted we could go out for dinner and come back while she watched our babies. When we came back, it took us a few minutes to realize the gender differences!

Switched outfits


In Jason’s baby-book, I came across something I wrote under a section called “mother’s message.” My words described Jason as a beautiful flower.

It was so beautiful that I started crying again. I knew tears were good – better out than in. Healing from my grief never meant that I couldn’t cry remembering him.

My son is an angel and I will continue to sing for him.

Jason slide 3

On January 8, 2013, Lupe wrote:

Hello Judy,


This is my family. I would love to see a photo of your family, as well. I am so happy to hear from you. I apologize for all the years that have passed without me contacting you, but believe me, you and your family always crossed my mind. You know how much I love all of you.

Judy, you were truly a blessing from God that I needed at the time, and I still cannot thank you enough. I remember how sweet you and Michael used to treat each other and I learned a lot from you two. That is the reason that my family is so strong up until today. It hurts me to know that you and Michael are going through rough times but I understand. There are so many memories of us that I remember as if it were yesterday.

I love you, Judy. I can’t wait to hear from you again.

Love, Lupe



Dearest Lupe,


I was so touched by your beautiful phone call and email. Of course, I didn’t forget you! You have no idea how much it meant to me – to know how Jason touched your life. Yesterday, I realized that I didn’t fully tell you how much you have meant to me, also. 


I was such an inexperienced first-time mother when you came to work for me. I learned incredible things from you and was grateful for the comfort you gave Jason. He loved you dearly and depended upon you. We were both connected to him and I could understand why you would feel like he was your first child. 


The experience of Jason being unable to eat and your ability to feed him will be forever burned into my mind. It was an unending task and I could not have done it alone. My mother shared that with me, too, and I miss her very much.


When the time came for you to move on in your life – it was difficult for us to part. But you were supposed to leave when you did – it was better that you didn’t experience the grief in our home when Jason died. It was especially sad for the grandparents; you cannot imagine.


The fact that you are married with a beautiful family makes me so happy. For you to give credit to my husband and I is very beautiful. As I cope with my divorce, I try to have a perspective that all of those years were not wasted and unhappy. There were parts that were good enough to touch you, for example. That is meaningful and inspiring; it makes me cry.


Just as you moved on to a new life when it was time – I am doing that now. Sometimes, our journey takes us to places we never expected to go; such is mine. I carry memories of Jason with me. You are there, too, Lupe. I will never forget you.


Love, Judy

Jason on the airplane with Lupe 2

Tahoe Queen

Lupe with our family

Jason, Lupe and statue

Playing guitar Lupe background

Lupe and Jason at the Waterpark

Sad Babybook 1

Sad Babybook 2

Jason after surgery

© 2013 by Judy Unger and 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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  1. jmgoyder says:

    Every word of this has touched me.


    • Judy says:

      Thank you, Julie. I find myself crying so easily when these memories surface. It is so beautiful to know that my words can touch other people. I am especially moved thinking of you with your situation – so sorry.


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