Music is God's gift to help me.

Music is God’s gift to help me. 

This post title is a line of lyrics from my song “Hang On. Below is link to the story and song:

Story behind HANG ON-PART 1– 

This post title is a line of lyrics from my song “Hang On.” It was interesting for me that I wrote Part One with the intention to follow it quickly with Part Two. But that didn’t happen because my mother died not long afterward.


Once again, I was surprised when a woman I play tennis with asked me the same question a week later. She said, “Judy, how does it feel to be an adult orphan?


When I answered her, I launched into a longer explanation than I expected. I said:


“First off, an orphan is reserved for children because it represents the absence of love, security and support that parents provide. My situation was completely reversed. As my parents became old and frail, eventually they were like my children. They relied on me for security and support. Now they are gone and I have an empty nest; I set them free to fly to God.

It was a beautiful thing that I could do that for them!


Sometimes I miss the deep love I received from my parents. No one loves us like our mother and father. But I feel them with me and just because they’ve died, I still feel important and valuable. Their love hasn’t died!” 

I have many happy memories of vacations. In this picture, I am with my mother and older brother, Norm.

I have many happy memories of vacations. In this picture, I am with my mother and older brother, Norm.

Although my mother did indeed succumb to pneumonia and die, I suffered more with grief when she was first diagnosed with dementia. The loss of her ability to communicate with me changed the course of my life in a huge way. I truly lost my best friend. 

I have been struggling with many challenges lately. Everything seems to be more difficult for me because of my annoying eyesight due to PVD (Posterior Vitreous Detachment). Because of it, I have even more empathy for grieving people.


Offering hope and inspiration is a beautiful thing, but when a person is suffering with agonizing grief – the thought of healing is unbelievable. I still suffer with discomfort in my eyes every moment of my day. When I am told that it will get better someday in the future – I want to believe that.


Unfortunately, knowing it might go away someday doesn’t really take away my pain.


I miss seeing clearly. My eyes often bother me. They are blurry or foggy and I use eye drops constantly to alleviate the dryness. But when I hear music, I forget about everything else.

The blessing of music in my life has made a huge difference for me. Because of it, my heart is joyful and light.


I find it ironic that I named my blog “My Journey’s Insight.” I don’t want what was clearly in my sight when my journey began to be affected by my eyesight issues.


My current perspective is one where I see myself climbing over every challenge I might face. I am relieved that I am able to do so many things despite my eye issues. I love my life.


For a few months before my mother died, I was very busy illustrating. I had thought my art career was over, and it was wonderful to have illustration work coming my way again. But music is most definitely my passion.

Here are the ways that music fills my life:

I play my guitar late at night and sing softly so I won’t bother my children.

I record song vocals (or guitar) three times a week.

I edit those vocals to add to my arrangements.

I create new arrangements weekly by working with my arranger.

I write a new song whenever it comes to me.

I am starting to perform more regularly.

Hang On 9-23 snap 9

For me, songwriting is very mysterious. Although I can “craft” song lyrics, it isn’t something I enjoy doing. I prefer to wait for inspiration. I often believe my songs are handed to me as a gift.

Every song of mine has healing properties.

When a song is born, it completely interrupts my existence. It emerges and overwhelms me with both emotion and relief.

I have composed over forty songs now. If I never wrote another song, it would be fine for me. My song garden is so huge at this moment that I am barely able to keep up with all the vocal lines I am currently editing.

Arranging my songs has been a fascinating and rewarding experience. My most recent arrangement for “Hang On” was quite special. The older arrangement felt rushed. Lyrics were very important for me; every word counted and this new arrangement was easier to sing.

My arranger, George, grimaced every time I sang the word “succumb.”  He shook his head and said, “Jude, you’ve got to find a replacement word for that one!”

I smiled, but did not want to change it. Not only was it the perfect word that rhymed with “numb,” I also felt strength in being the songwriter and making final decisions. My song was about healing and I wasn’t going to give in to this lyric change. It expressed exactly the feeling I wanted for my song.

Judy in the forest

A week after my mother’s death, I decided to take a voice lesson with Kimberly Haynes. At our lesson, Kimberly told me she had studied voice without a break for many years. She thought my hiatus was good opportunity for me to absorb what I had learned.

It was great to see her again. I had missed her and appreciated what a wonderful teacher she was. I explained to her that in hindsight – the fact that my mother was slowly dying made it hard for me to focus on my voice.

But now I was not suffering with grief over my mother’s death and for that I was grateful. I told Kimberly that I was ready to move forward on my journey. I was going to perform more and asked her for some tips.

I shared my excitement over the new “Hang On” arrangement. Then I told her, I had decided that I wanted to hire her to sing this particular song.

Perhaps with her professional abilities, I would be able to do more with it than with my own voice.

Kimberly was happy to do it. I gave her a recording and the lyrics. We planned to record the song at Darrin’s studio near my home soon.

The day before Kimberly was set to record my song, I received a message from her that she needed to cancel.

She wrote that she needed to attend a very important doctor appointment with her husband that day.

It turned out that her husband’s melanoma cancer had returned. In an instant, her life became a crisis and they were hanging on. Kimberly and Brian had two young sons – the oldest was five years old.

Every day, I read her blog. And prayed . . .

Kim & Brian

Here is an excerpt from her blog:

Six years ago Brian was diagnosed with ocular melanoma. He quickly underwent surgery to remove a blueberry size tumor from his eye. From that day forward he has been blind in that eye. The following month, he had three radiation treatments targeting the margin of the tumor.  He recovered quickly with determination and a fierce will to be well. There is no further treatment at this point for this particular disease.


Sadly, the data about this disease paints a very bleak picture. Generally, metastasis moves to the liver. We received news last Thursday that the melanoma has now begun to show signs in Brian’s liver with one large lesion and several smaller ones….


We are devastated and currently barely functional. We are both in intense pain and shock.


Below is a link to Kimberly’s blog:

Kim & Brian 2

© Judy Unger and 2013. 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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3 Responses to DO NOT SUCCUMB-PART 2

  1. Marilyn de Mena says:

    This is VERY pretty. Many thanks. Love, Marilyn


  2. wow, you shared so much that i barely know where to start. you are so talented and blessed that you are now exploring all these talents. as for your friend, it is so heartbreaking that this family is being rocked by such a cruel disease. she is brave to share with other’s their journey as are you with your ups and your downs. love and light to you. hope i see you in december.


    • Judy says:

      I was waiting to see what my girlfriend wanted to do – if she was willing to brave the Yosemite winter driving there. She said yes!!!

      I made reservations today at the Winona Lodge. I will look forward to meeting you in December. Thank you for your beautiful comments, as always. 🙂


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