Beside Me Always: My Personal Journey of Healing, from Tragic Loss to Finding Joy Through My Love of Music. (Unabridged)
by Judy Unger
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Beside Me Always is comprised of 10 stories that share my grief experience and how I embraced music again. I have been a commercial illustrator since 1981 and my illustrations can be seen on many well-known food labels. For 30 years, I focused on my art career and family. I gave up songwriting and playing guitar, which was something I had loved as a young girl. My book begins with the story of Jason, my first-born child who died due to a severe congenital heart defect. I wanted to be buried with him and grief swallowed up my life for almost two decades. When I opened my heart in 2010 to write the deeply painful experience of losing Jason, my journey toward healing began. Sharing the story of his brief life transformed me, and the grief I carried was lifted. Finding joy after 18 years of sorrow was a gift I never imagined. Music was a magic carpet that lifted me over all of my stress. I was very close to both my parents and it was hard to watch them suffer. My songs eased my pain. I am especially grateful that both my parents witnessed my joy before they died. I am a passionate songwriter; my songs comprise a musical of my life. Many of my songs are dedicated to Jason. I rediscovered the songs I composed in my youth and wrote new songs that helped me cope with current challenges. My music is featured on Insight Timer, a popular meditation app, and my blogs have reached people all over the world. I perform regularly where I live in Southern California. I want to convey my optimism and belief that if I could heal, perhaps others could find hope with my story. If my words and music can bring any level of comfort to another person, then I have achieved more in my lifetime than I ever dreamed.