Yartzeit Candle for mom

Tonight is the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death on the Jewish calendar. She was very observant and lighting a Yarzeit (memorial) candle was something she faithfully followed for her deceased loved ones. Even though I am not religious, I’ve decided that I will do this for my mother.

I lit a candle and remembered how much she loved me.

These are lyrics from my song "You Were There," which I wrote for my mother. I just finished a new vocal for it last week.

These are lyrics from my song “You Were There,” which I wrote for my mother. I recently finished a new vocal for it.

Last week, I had lunch with my friend, Janis. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized how we hadn’t mentioned anything at all about our mothers; her mother died only five weeks after mine.

That was so different from our last lunch six months before, where we both talked a lot about our sadness. The fact that we talked about ordinary life instead of our grief seemed like a beautiful sign of healing to me.

Memory of love

My post title of “When Life Holds Pain” is a lyric line from my song “Rainbow Through My Tears.” I composed that song a year ago and recently decided to sing a new vocal for it.

When I wrote that song, I was still waiting to see a rainbow representing healing. I feel like I can relate to my song even more now. I am elated that my eyes have been less painful. Even though they are not “normal” like they used to be, I can cope far better with less pain.

Pain can be intolerable. I’ve learned that maintaining hope of healing has helped me greatly in every discouraging situation I’ve faced in my life.

I have been watching my close friend, Joni; go through the process of healing. Only two weeks after celebrating her fifty-fifth birthday in July, Joni was in the ER with difficulty breathing. What initially seemed to be pneumonia turned out to be a heart condition. She was told she needed surgery to repair one of her heart valves.

This certainly upended my dear friend’s life. Before having her surgery, she came out to see me at Kulak’s one night when I performed. That night, her husband took a picture of us hugging.

Judy & Joni

Joni has gone through a lot since her surgery. For weeks, she has dealt with constant pain and fatigue – her recovery has been slow and not as swift as she had hoped for.

Her health crisis came at a time when she was elated to have found a job she loved as a masseuse. She had to quit her job and hoped she could work again. A lot of healing was needed for her to reach that place.

Autumn Day

Last week, I was elated to see that she felt a little better. She had gone on an easy hike and sent me a text message with pictures.

She wrote, “Outdoors, Yeah! It smells like pinecones melting in autumn sun! Yum.”

I could tell from her smiling face in the sun that she was healing.

Joni healing

About two weeks ago, I started to notice that my left leg was aching. I tried to ignore it, but found myself grimacing whenever I stood in my kitchen. I was on one of my “exercise walks” in the late afternoon, when the pain in my leg began to increase. Soon I was gasping and looking for a place to sit down.

The last thing I wanted to do was go to a doctor. Finally, I realized that since it hadn’t gone away – I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

I sent a very hesitant email message to my doctor. It was Friday morning and I wrote, “I might come see you on Monday if this pain continues.”

I was in shock when I received a message back from him only five minutes later. He wrote, “You don’t have to wait; I have some openings this afternoon.”

His response reminded me what a great doctor he was.

I took the last appointment available, which was at 4:30. It meant a lot of traffic to contend with, but allowed me to keep my earlier appointment with George, my musical arranger.

All morning, George and I continued working on a gorgeous new arrangement for my song “Angel in the Sky.” I was fine while working because my leg never bothered me when I was sitting.

But when I stood up to leave, my leg began throbbing. I was glad I had made that appointment with Dr. Wong.

Autumn leaves watercolor

The waiting room was deserted. In a few hours it was Halloween night; this was such an eerie time to be at a doctor’s office. I was sure my doctor wanted to get home to trick or treat with his young children.

I didn’t wait long. Dr. Wong came into the exam room; he was caring and concerned like always. But before I could talk about my leg, I told him I had to share something with him.

My eyes glistened as I spoke.

“Dr. Wong, do you remember when I came to you two months ago? I wondered if there was something wrong with me that was causing my dry eyes. I was very overweight and discouraged; I was almost certain one of the blood tests would come back with a result indicating a problem – but everything was normal.”

I added, “Well you know what really helped me?”

He asked me what he had done that was so helpful.

“When you told me that you saw me as a strong person – when I made up my mind, I would be able to lose weight. Your faith in me made a difference. It inspired me to change my habits and I’ve lost about ten pounds since then!”

Dr. Wong grinned and said, “That’s great! Yes, I did notice your weight loss.”

I also shared with him how my eyes had improved since I had started drinking a lot of water on a daily basis – it made a huge difference.

Because my eyes are better, I’ve been playing more often at open mics.

Because my eyes are better, I’ve been performing more.

After asking me a few questions about my leg, Dr. Wong told me he wanted a physical therapist to examine me. I was very impressed when only five minutes later a physical therapist came into the exam room.

She was very thorough and treated me respectfully. After her exam, she said that I had an inflamed femoral nerve in my thigh. How that happened was a mystery, but getting older certainly has led to aches and pains. She recommended using ice and gave me a few exercises and other suggestions to help me deal with my pain.

I limped back to my car filled with relief that my pain wasn’t anything serious.

It was now almost dark and I was glad to be going home. I put on the song that George and I had created earlier in the day. It was a perfect opportunity for me to practice my singing. My car swelled with the beautiful notes of the new arrangement for “Angel in the Sky.” I was in heaven with my angel as I sang aloud.

When life holds pain 2

There was a lot of stop and go traffic on the freeway. It was starting to drizzle and very gloomy; I continued singing.

Suddenly, I saw a large SUV ahead swerve out of control. It spun into my lane and the car in front of mine smashed into it. I instinctively hit my brakes and thankfully, I wasn’t going very fast.

My car screeched to a halt only a few inches from the accident. As I was braking, I prayed the car behind me would not rear-end mine. But there was no impact and I had luckily avoided crashing.

My heart was pounding and the poignant music was still playing as I signaled and carefully moved around the accident.

I drove home and decided my “angel in the sky” was my “angel on the freeway” at that moment.


© 2014 by Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. 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. Joni Lautman says:

    Oh Jude, I’m so glad things are falling into place for you. The leg thing might get better on its own, your eyes are feeling better perhaps due to better hydration. Your angel in the sky is looking after you; what a scary incident. BH your ok. We have to be thankful all the time. Well, Im feeling better. Thank you for including me in your blog! Can’t wait to see you soon, last week I couldn’t get over to you but I’m thinking this week I can. Here’s to a hopeful me. Cheers


    • Judy says:

      Aw, thanks Joni – Glad I could share your beautiful pictures and words. There so much that is unsaid (like my song “Another You”). I am blessed by our friendship. It’s great that you’re on your way to feeling better. We’ll get together soon.


  2. jmgoyder says:

    So sorry to be so behind with your blog, Judy – you are such an inspiration to me!


    • Judy says:

      You are not behind, Julie – you’re right beside me. Actually, maybe I do feel you there – right behind me and keeping me going.

      I’m so glad that Meg’s party went well. Hoping Anthony’s lull isn’t continuing to linger and that he is more lucid again. Always thinking of you!


  3. Norm Goodman says:

    all I an say is wow!! what a post. You do have an angel.


    • Judy says:

      Yes – many are there in my life. I have you! And my doctor is an angel, too. All these blessings keep me smiling and positive! Love you, Norm. I am so lucky to have a brother like you.


  4. how fortunate you have a dr that you can get in to see right away and that he listens to you! i am so glad to hear that your eyes are improving and your inspiration for your music continues to amaze me.

    please give our best to joni and let her know that we have thought about her while she has been healing.


    • Judy says:

      Thank you, Sandra. I’ll definitely let Joni know she is in your thoughts. I have read all of your blog posts about dying with dignity – I keep learning so much from you. Hope you are feeling well enough to savor life the way you do. As always, I appreciate every word of your insightful comments on my blog.


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