Judy & Sandra 2

This post is dedicated to the memory of my friend, Sandra Blake Callahan. My title is a line of lyrics from my song “In Every Smile.” The music and story surrounding my song can be found at this link: IN EVERY SMILE

Sometimes, it’s easier not to examine the past. But words are powerful and can penetrate my mind just like a ray of sunshine illuminating a room though a dusty window.

In remembering my blogging friend, Sandra Callahan who died this week, I’ve decided to begin by sharing one of her especially insightful comments. Her words helped me to let go of a long-held belief that didn’t serve me.

When I began myjourneysinsight in 2010, all I wanted to do was express my feelings. For thirty years, I held everything in and carried a lot of grief. But the more I wrote, the better I felt and life began to become joyful again.

That was a stark contrast to the unhappiness I lived with on a daily basis. I was very lonely and withdrawn in my marriage. I was also overwhelmed with caring for my parents and challenging children.

I can honestly say that my music and writing helped me find my courage. Shortly after my father died, I left my marriage.


I was able to stay married for 31 years because I accepted the emotional distance in my relationship. I was also terrified of change or rocking the boat.

My husband and I never fought about anything. He was very unhappy, and gradually I went from feeling apathetic about our relationship to disliking him. He probably felt the same way about me, too.

I carried guilt over ending my marriage because my husband never expected I would leave. On one of my blog stories, I wrote that he was a good provider because he always went to work every day. He hadn’t cheated on me. He didn’t gamble or drink. I had betrayed him.

But when Sandra wrote a comment to share her observation, it opened my eyes.

It was especially touching because Sandra cherished her husband, Chris. She found true love later in her life, and never hesitated to write how much she appreciated this wonderful man who adored her.

Sandra caught me with my own line of, “He was a good provider” and gave me more clarity than I was prepared for. She said:

“He was not a good provider. It breaks my heart to think of you, with all your sparkle and life light, being starved for affection. We all need love and your children filled part of that for you but I know that someday you will find that person who is in awe of you and appreciates you for the amazing human being that you are. Following your heart is the key to peace and self-love. Staying in a loveless marriage is not a good idea. I am sure there are hurt feelings but it is better to be alone and happy. You are an incredible woman with amazing strength.”


Her message made me think about the “story” I told myself, which only burdened me with guilt. I literally “bought into” the idea that money was more important than my emotional needs.

After her comment, I stopped telling myself what a great provider my ex-husband was.

I know that soon you will leave me

These lyrics are from my song "Never Gone Away."

These lyrics are from my song “Never Gone Away.”

Now I want to share some other messages from Sandra. Every one of them is a gem for me:

Judy, I have such fond memories of my time with you. Your beautiful music and voice are still fresh in my mind. It means a lot that you take the time out of your busy life to read and connect with me. Ever since meeting you in Yosemite, I have a special place in my heart for you.

You aren’t Streisand? Why would you want to be when you are Judy and have such a gift to share?

We must suffer in life to know when we are not suffering. We need to suffer so we know how to be grateful for all we have been given. I have been given much and am grateful to my suffering as well as my blessings.


Oh the pressure is on to be “wise” 🙂 I understand your reaction and love you for caring. Please let the sadness pass and think of the joy that comes with each breath I take. Each one is a little gift and reminder of how miraculous life is. I just have such gratitude for the life I was given: the people I have been blessed to love and be loved by. You are icing on my cake and yes, I dare think I will be here after the holidays and will enjoy our next visit!!

Judy, I never think any of my symptoms are a burden. For me, they simply are. They remind me that we each have our own journey. I so look forward to seeing you and need to email you to discuss details and timing. Unfortunately I have gotten much worse since the last time we met. We all die sometime, that is not tragedy. I just want to live through another holiday season.

Your humor is one of the most awesome things about you! Your talent as an artist in multiple media is impressive, however, I would feel a little sad for anyone who has not been treated to your humorous side!


I wish that I could say it is courage. But honestly I just don’t know any other way to move through this event. You are one of the few who truly know about saying goodbye and what that feels like. Please know that when I say it, they won’t be words of regret.

That’s what we are here for isn’t it? To follow our path and support others as they follow theirs? That is the way you live.

You could be bitter and think the world an ugly place, but you offer your love and support to those you have not even met. Your music moves people; it did Chris and I. The love, as well as the suffering comes through, and comes from a place of love rather than a place of resentment or anger. The world is a better place for having you in it.


Judy, I was not expecting to meet someone like him ever! I am surprised and delighted that he could love me. It is my firm belief that love comes to us when we least expect it and hopefully when we are ready to receive it.

Your love is out there waiting for you. When you are ready it will be there. I can’t imagine going through this without him. I probably could but don’t want to:) my heart goes out to anyone who is going through something like this without the love I have been so blessed with.

When your time comes I will stand at the end of your bed and welcome you to the rest of your soul’s life. You have many years ahead and songs to write before that day, but know that I will be there.

This is Sandra's favorite picture of her and Chris.

This was Sandra’s favorite picture of her and Chris.

I end my post with Sandra’s wisdom written shortly before she died of heart failure:

I am dying.

I am going to die.

I am going to die and it doesn’t upset me.

How does someone live with this? 
How do you go on with your life for today? 
How can you be so calm in the face of this very real fact?

You do it the way every human that walks this earth. We are all dying aren’t we? Some of us have conditions that make ours a bit more imminent. Anyone could decide that it is too scary; some actually do and don’t live their life to the fullest.

The question? What happens when we die? Though I do not rush to death’s door in search of this answer, I do not think of slowing it down. I don’t think of my loss as some have assumed. I do hope I leave enough love and good memories behind to make my passing easier on those I love.  You will have questions regarding your own mortality in those moments.  It is ok to say it out loud, those who love you will understand, and the rest of them can go to the own little hell they have created for themselves.

May you be held in the arms of those you love when you leave this world. In that sense dying is a bit like being born isn’t it?

Sandra & Chris

Feel me with love you share


Sandra’s Book:


Other stories on my blog about Sandra:







© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2016. 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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14 Responses to I’M NOT REALLY GONE

  1. I am too overwhelmed emotionally really to speak; except to say…the energy of love resonates in this post…I can feel it here. Much love and and may happiness fill your heart with all these beautiful memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carol Cross says:

    So powerful and thought provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I knew she was like this … a very Special person who somehow … in her quiet way made me notice her. What a beautiful woman … anytime I read, see her photos … my heart fills with emotion and tears fill my eyes. I love that you share about her, and how she touched your life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Thank you, Gloria. For every comment she made that helped me, I know she did the same to others – as you can attest to. That was how she was – loving and simply special. I have tears and it helps to share them. She would be touched knowing how all the people who loved her have been united with her passing. I’m so glad I could share about her!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jmgoyder says:

    I haven’t been able to comment until today and so glad I have looked now at these poignant posts about our mutual friend, Sandra. Judy, the music is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. F. G. M. says:

    Thank you for sharing such precious gems (as you said) of wisdom. Kind regards from France, FGM


  6. buff327 says:

    That was one of the most heart touching posts I have ever read. Full of love and caring and wisdom. I have tears in my eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much for your beautiful comment. If it touched you enough to bring tears to your eyes – well, that made my day. I so appreciate your taking the time to ready my words.


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