Alabaster Seashell is one of my favorite songs. It has such a mystical quality, with descriptive words and eerie music.

Click the blue link below to hear it:

Alabaster Seashell Arrangement

Alabaster Seashell Vocal Mix

Two years ago, I created another arrangement for this song. It was very beautiful, but I did not feel the same emotional connection that I had for my first version. Below is the arrangement without a vocal:

ALABASTER SEASHELL 3 Arrangement Copyright 2015 by Unger

Link to other stories about this song:



I must reveal that the painting I used for my Alabaster Seashell cover isn’t really alabaster!

Over the five years since I first recorded my song “Alabaster Seashell,” my voice has changed considerably. When I listen to my earlier recordings, it doesn’t even sound like it’s me!

The chords and lyrics for the verses of this song were written long ago, when I was only 17 years old. I expanded my song three decades later to write a chorus explaining what the seashell represented to me.

The alabaster seashell held memories that were a comfort and reminder of love.

Reflecting clouds in water

I’m glad that I can share how in my current life I’m enjoying creating new memories. I really do search for ways to find peacefulness and treasure each day.

A month ago my childhood friend, Joni, asked me what I planned to do on my birthday. I told her I wasn’t really sure; my birthday was tinged with sadness because I missed my mom. She died two days before my birthday two years ago.

Joni was especially sympathetic because she missed my mom, too. When we were growing up, Joni was almost like part of my family. It was an amazing coincidence that she shared the same birthday as my mother. I remember many times going shopping with my mom so she could find a card for Joni, which mentioned their mutual birthdays.

This picture was taken about twelve years ago. My life was so different then when my parents were still alive.

This picture was taken about twelve years ago. My life was so different then when my parents were still alive.

Joni asked me what I missed doing with my mom. I told her we often shopped together and then ate out at one of our favorite restaurants.

I didn’t want to remember my mother’s decline. A few years before she died, we stopped going on those outings. Before that, she grimaced as she pushed her walker into stores with me. She insisted she was fine, but I could see her pain. On a few occasions, she collapsed to the ground and I dashed to pick her up in terror.

Joni said, “Well how about if on your birthday, we go shopping and out to dinner then? Tell me the favorite stores you went to.”

I rattled off a few . . .

Joni is in the middle and her younger sister; Shari has such an adorable expression on the right.

Joni is in the middle and her younger sister, Shari, has such an adorable expression on the right.

A few days before my birthday, Joni reminded me of our outing. I said to her, “Hey instead of shopping, let’s go outdoors – could we go to the beach in the late afternoon instead?”

Joni told me it was a fantastic idea. I surprised myself by suggesting it because I seldom did anything like that.

But when I was a young girl, the beach was my favorite place to go with my friends.

In this picture, Joni joined my family on a boat trip.

In this picture, Joni joined my family on a boat trip.

Joni was very close to both my parents.

Joni was very close to both my parents.

The weather was perfect and the sky was beautiful. The clouds were delicate and created extraordinary textures that reflected back from the mirrored slicks of wet sand.

It was balmy and comfortable, which was lovely because it had been so hot in the city we left behind. I soaked up the sweet coolness and my good friend’s tenderness.Reflecting Tide

This close up really shows the amazing reflections of clouds on the wet sand.

This close up really shows the amazing reflections of clouds on the wet sand in the late afternoon.

It was a little over a year ago when Joni had open-heart surgery to repair a heart valve. Thankfully, she had healed and gotten much of her strength back.

We had known each other almost all our lives. So much of our destinies were intertwined because of our friendship. The fact that I currently lived in the same building where we played together as toddlers was amazing. Yes, memories were always vivid when we were together.

This picture is with my older brother, Norm, on the left. Joni and I were about 19 years old, at the time.

This picture is with my older brother, Norm. Joni and I were about 19.

On this beautiful day that was my 56th birthday, we talked about our present lives and challenges. We revealed dreams about things we loved to imagine in our future. And we reminisced about our childhood.

We ate dinner overlooking the ocean. On our way home, we even stopped at one of the stores where I used to shop with my mom, too.

I came home and enjoyed seeing the pictures from our day. I planned to celebrate with all three of my children the next day. It was fine, since my oldest son was helping his father move on my actual birthday and couldn’t be there.

Judy in Malibu 4

Judy & Joni selfie 1

My day was additionally sweet because I had lunch with my sister-in-law before I met up with Joni.

I received so many beautiful Facebook wishes and text messages. I appreciated them all and replied to every one. There were messages from friends I hadn’t seen since elementary school!

I especially loved the picture my daughter sent me that she had quickly snapped a week before.Jenny Happy Birthday to me

There is one line in my song “Alabaster Seashell” that usually brings me to tears.

“Reminders of days, like the one – holding him tightly in a setting sun.”

I originally wrote that line remembering a romantic moment. But 30 years later, I interpreted it very differently. Now that line was about how I anticipated my young son’s death. I held him with great sadness while we watched a beautiful beach sunset together.

Beach sunset

Yesterday, the sun was setting as Joni and I walked along the beach. It was not a dramatic sunset, instead it was soft and subtle. I noticed the quiet passage of pastel colors slowly fading into darkness and felt very peaceful.

Joni beach sunset 1

Joni has gone through a lot with her heart issues. She is still making changes to her life and adjusting. I admire her courage.

Being peaceful was a great feeling. I knew there were many things we both could have worried about. Thinking about aging can sometimes lead to depressing thoughts.

But instead, life was glorious.

I photographed a white seashell, so I could write this story and have a picture of a real alabaster seashell.

What seems especially beautiful and telling, is that I had no desire to bring it home and save it.

Alabaster Seashell Photo 1

Shell and hand artistic

Judy & Guitar in Malibu

© 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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  1. Norm says:

    Jude, I enjoyed that post so much. it brought back so many memories. Love you



  2. Carol Cross says:

    “Alabaster Seashell” is my new favorite!! So beautiful and touching. I read Part 1, too, and enjoyed learning more. Love all the photos. You ladies look so happy at the beach. How lucky the two of you have had each other for so long. Fantastic birthday!!! Thanks for the very interesting blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Carol, thank you so much for your enthusiastic words – I’m literally beaming. Glad I could share so much of my life with you in such a relatively short time. I do love sharing pictures that help bring a story to life. 🙂


  3. jmgoyder says:

    What a beautiful post and I love the way you have brought the past into the present in so many ways!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      That is so insightful, Julie! Sometimes I feel like a time machine swept me off my feet to the future. I “shore” could tell a lot of puns here related to the beach. (I’m holding back a little)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. judy i so admire your talent for writing in a way that really paints a picture for the reader. in the past i was what some would consider a good technical writer but the skill you possess has always eluded me.

    i am so glad you were able to get out and enjoy your day with joni. you both have much to celebrate. when i lived in southern california we went to the beach often. i loved huntington beach in particular. thank you for sharing your incredible special day with us.


    • Judy says:

      Aw, Sandra – it is extra special for me know you were able to meet her and I in Yosemite. Thank you for your compliments about my writing. I love the blog format where I just let the words spill forth. I have always wanted to write a book, but prefer to keep plowing forward with new material instead of editing what I’ve done. I’m glad you have nice memories from Southern California. It was a pleasure to share with you. And by the way, you are an excellent writer and paint a picture for me with your words on every post.


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