I take this opportunity to share pictures of my three children whom I adore.

I take this opportunity to share pictures of my three children whom I adore.

A later recording of my song:

In Every Smile Acoustic 6-4-18

I love the song arrangement, which is finished. The very first chords that inspired this song were played by George on his keyboard without any other instrumentation.

SEE ME IN EVERY SMILE – piano in progress

Link to more about this song: IN EVERY SMILE


This is a fairly recent photo of all three of my children together.

This is a fairly recent photo of all three of my children together.

A month ago, I was chatting with a friend and she said to me earnestly, “Judy, you must put all of your affairs in order. It’s so important! I just worked with a family where the father died and nothing was in place. It was such a nightmare for everyone.”

I knew my friend was right. For months, there was a note on my desk with the scribbled words of: set up a living trust. I certainly didn’t want my children to be burdened if anything happened to me unexpectedly. But I still hadn’t followed through – it was so much easier to put it off.

Now my friend had put the fire under me. I made an appointment to create a living trust with someone recommended by my brother.

Before my meeting I had a flash of insight and decided to ask my good friend, Janis if she could make medical decisions for me. It would be a lot easier than expecting my children to know what to do. Janis said she would be honored to help me, which made me very teary. A week later, we met for lunch to discuss my wishes.

The initial meeting to begin this process was quite overwhelming. My head was spinning from all the questions the lawyer asked me. I had so many decisions to make, but in general I was glad to be doing something that I knew was very important.

The subconscious is so powerful and takes up far more of the mind than the conscious part.

That week, I began writing a new song. I heard beautiful chords that were dissonant and very haunting. And the lyrics seemed to follow exactly what my mind was dwelling on.

My first line went: “One day I’ll be gone . . .”

If you're crying

It was thrilling for me to watch my new song unfold. The first thing I did was share my newly composed chords with my arranger, George so he could play them on his piano. I wasn’t sure if my chords were for a verse or chorus; George experimented with a few chord progressions to help me link sections together.

I brought home his piano recording and it was so beautiful! This new song touched me deeply and I knew immediately what I wanted to convey. I began writing lyrics but a song title didn’t grab me.

My first idea was “I’m Not Really Gone.”

The following week when I met with George, I excitedly told him that his piano chords were great. I handed him a paper with my preliminary lyrics on it. He scanned my words quickly and then he handed the paper back to me.

“Kind of dark,” he muttered.

“Really? I mention love and laughter – so how is that dark?” I replied.

He said, “What’s the first line again?”

I laughed and answered, “One day I’ll be gone.”

I had to admit that it was kind of gloomy with a line like that.

But I loved what another friend of mine said. It was: “I think it’s great how you can write about something that many people think about, but are afraid to say.”

These are lyrics that I originally wrote for my first verse, but decided not to use.

These are lyrics for the first verse that I ended up replacing.

Even though I wasn’t set on my lyrics, the theme of my song felt perfect for my life. I sang my song as if I were speaking to each one of my children.

My emphasis was upon how much I loved them and that remembering my love would uplift them.

The last thing I wanted was for my children to be tormented by grief when I pass on someday.

Telling them to smile and laugh was a reminder that I hoped they would continue to live their life with joy.

you might be scared

I believe greatly in healing from grief.

My dialog with a woman named Sammi continues to shed more light upon this. Her words are in blue.

Sammi, I am always trying to be more compassionate. Sometimes I feel guilty because I “preach” hope for survival so much. Even offering understanding isn’t always comforting sometimes because grief is so unique to every person. The best thing to offer someone grieving is to just listen and care.

Judy, your years of surviving “the worst loss” give you a unique view of those of us who are in the first stages of this journey. To give hope to a dying soul will never be a bad thing, so you are guilty of nothing.

Thank you, Sammi. I really can only speak for my own life. Originally, I thought it was a miracle that I survived grief. Now it is about finding joy again and THAT is a miracle! I think mindset does make a difference. Yes, the ache remains – but that doesn’t mean we have to suffer until our last breath.

blue gold butterfly pair

Sometimes I think we survive because there is no choice – unless we kill ourselves (which happens by suicide or total disregard for safety). I have seen that happen. I remember feeling hopeless for a long time. It didn’t even register when someone would tell me I’d feel better someday – I found it annoying.

I will admit to having thoughts of suicide in the first days. I couldn’t stand the thought of living without my son. I would cry constantly and say, “I can’t do this” over and over. My saving grace was my husband. I never would have made it this far without him.

Red purple butterfly pair

When you lose a child you develop layers, layers that cover and protect you. At first it feels dishonest to friends and family hide beneath these layers, but as time goes on you realize that you are protecting yourself.

The first layer covers your core, the screaming torn soul and protects your exposed damaged heart.

The second layer is the face you show to those close to you, your closest friends and your family. It calms them to think you are going to be OK. It allows some semblance of life to continue for you that they are comfortable with so they can focus on their lives without worrying about you.

The third layer is the layer that you present to the world. That layer lets you laugh and interact with others at work and those who know nothing about you. It allows you to do certain things and numbs you to most of what is said to you.

I don’t want to hear from people about how this is what my purpose is or how wonderfully I write about what is going on. I am still the same person I always was, but hate where I am right now.

That is because I live with a constant ache since my son died.

I think you have eloquently explained what “survival” is. Living with layers is very numbing and kind of like being a dead person emotionally. That’s why I probably called my survival of grief “Zombieland.” I am sorry for the ache in your core, Sammi.

Keep unwrapping it because I think that is the key to living again someday. The adage of “time heals” isn’t necessarily true even though it is a process that happens over time. It came for me when the thought of, “I can’t believe he’s dead” became “He’s dead and I can’t live without him.”

Later on it became, “He’s dead and somehow I’m still alive without him.” The biggest shift was, “He’s dead and I am able to live again with joy.” That was my miracle and still is.

I don’t think time heals this kind of pain. I am still at the “I can’t believe he’s dead” point. I will be taking a shower and suddenly it hits me…. again…I will never see him again, I will never hear his voice or feels his arms hugging me…ever. The finality of it all takes my breath away at times. I want those layers…. I NEED those layers. Joy is something I will never have again. I don’t have that many years left in my life to reach that place.

Layers are survival and were for me, too. And like you – I was certain I’d never find joy again. No one can know what is ahead. Perhaps it did take me years. I know many people who have never gotten there and others that did much sooner than I. It doesn’t mean that the ache is gone. It only means that your heart lifts again. I guarantee you, Sammi, one day you will feel that.

Can you believe

Judy & her parents

to my amazing mother

Jason in the pool

Feel me with love you share

© Judy Unger and 2015. 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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7 Responses to ONE DAY I’LL BE GONE

  1. Marilyn de Mena says:

    What terrific pictures–love the one of you and your parents.

    I SO enjoy reading your emails. thank you much-ly !!!!


  2. i feel so deeply that having a living will is so important for us to set in place and am so glad you are taking care of this.

    sending you love and big hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jmgoyder says:

    I am so moved, reading this post and listening to your music and voice. Beautiful and poignant, Judy. Thank you with love – Jxxx


  4. beebeesworld says:

    You have such a beauiful positive attitude. I truly admire you. beebee


    • Judy says:

      Thank you, Brenda. Honestly it “ain’t easy!” Sometimes I am pretty down – like recently when I heard that I have more involved eye problems. I’ll share more soon, but your support means a lot to me.


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