I thank the heavens every day for the privilege of knowing you. I am also
deeply thankful and grateful to say that most of what I'm saying here you
already know. You know how much I love you. You know how I consider you my
intellectual soul-mate, and the special place that will always be only yours I
have filled with those precious fond memories of you. I will continue to fill
that bottomless reserved space with the future fond memories of you that live
on through your friends and family members, especially Jessie.
Dean showed me various photo albums, capturing times in your life before I
came to know you. The Halloween costumes were among my favorites. In those
volumes of photos, one thing that struck me so saliently was that even though
the dreaded Myeloma robbed you of some of your physical beauty, it never stole
your spirit, which transcended all adversity. Your spirit remains forever
mesmerizing, forever profound.
It was that incredible spiritual strength that held me together the day
that I phoned you with the sad news that my father had only a few more days on
this earth. You were the first person I thought to call, the sister that I
never had, the first outside my family to know. You instantly set aside your
own tribulations to say the exact words to comfort me and allow me to get
control of myself so that I could get my things in order. Most of all, on that
day, despite my inconsolable grief, you actually made me laugh. I have no idea
what about, or how you managed to do that, but you did. I remain forever
indebted to you for that.
Now, you know that I wasn't at your Memorial *because* of you! You were the
one who solved the mystery of that hauntingly beautiful song that my father
used to play on the piano when I was a child. Amazingly, over the telephone in
a 15-second sound bite with voice-over, recorded from the TV on a cheap grad
school tape recorder, you identified Rachmaninov's Prelude in C# Minor. You
opened up the world of classical music for me, which I never realized was so
much a part of me. I started taking piano lessons because of you. I am even
re-fingering the Prelude in C# Minor so as to play it properly. I can hear you
saying, "See? I TOLD you it sounds better that way!" You know too
that I now have one of the most extensive collections of Rachmaninov's works.
You also know that I have never seen a live performance of his works. You know
I had tickets to the performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto #1 and
Symphony #3, and some of your best friends said that you would want me to go.
I have dedicated every delicious note, every tear that spilt from my heart, to
You gave me and the world so, so much dear June. What is so amazing is that
we have yet to realize just how much that is. Your legacy lives on in your
friends, certainly, but not so much as in David and Jessie and your family.
Since I got to know Jessie, he has become my adopted nephew. You know we have
a special relationship. He is my buddy, and my warm remembrance of you. I hope
to stay in his life, and watch him become all that you wanted for him.
In the end, dear Junie, no words are adequate enough. I will see you at a
later time, and we will continue our conversations from Santa Fe.
It is so hard for me, and for all of us, to have June leave this earth, but
I am glad she will get the peace she deserves in the great Beyond. A piece of
my heart has left this earth with her.
I was June's friend for nearly 30 years through many different phases of
life and many different lives, it seems. We went through high school together
and loved and held each other during those difficult times. We shared a love
of nature and music, fantasy and imagination. We went into college and careers
determined to pave new paths for independently thinking women. Later we went
into motherhood together and learned of the wonders of a child's love and a
mother's love. I wish that I had had more time with her, but our lives
diverged several times. I was glad to have time with her the last few years
when we reunited during difficult times we were both having. Her strength and
courage has been a source of great inspiration to me in those hard times.
I always admired June's unwavering determination to be herself in spite of
what others thought. She has always been a person who went "beyond"
in just about everything. She took me into many beyonds years ago, always
pushing the envelope going where I was afraid to go. I cherish those times I
did let go and went with her. Now it is hard for me to think of her going now
into a beyond where I am afraid to go. I look forward to seeing June again
there when my time comes, too.
I am blessed to have shared nearly 30 years with her.
I know you now for exactly a decade. I thank you for setting me straight on
my professional path as a Dipl.Ac (NCCA)! Your continuous encouragement and
inspiration never failed me. Your commitment to the role of professional,
mother, wife, daughter, sister never ceased to amaze me. In all these years, I
never saw you in any negative or depressive state, you remained humorous and
your spirits always high.
Sadly, over the past few years we remained connected only through
cyberspace, but your cyberhugs were always received with great warmth. I will
miss writing to you "Dear June". I will miss those cyberhugs too.
But as I look up to the night sky I know one of those glittering mystical
jewels of God is you. How lucky the heavenly body is to have you now, as lucky
as we were to have you here with us. Perhaps you will now expand the
arch of heaven, the way you expanded the minds of many here on earth.
I will always remember you for your remarkable energy and your unfailing
devotion, I will also remember your fondness for the spicy daals and peas
pilau, your hot tub and the Vidalia onions stored in your stocking.
Where ever you are Dear June, may your atman be in peace.
With love, your friend, Tajud
Even though June was only 43, she seemed to have the wisdom of the ages.
She was just always there on the listserv gently guiding people through the
information forest of this dread disease.
Here's a quote from Anthon Padovano, a religious writer from the East coast
who has been writing wonderful inspirational stuff for a very long time:
"A woman who is faithful sees beforehand not the course of her life
but the fidelity of her perseverance. She is optimistic about this even in
her forsakenness. She shall find the strength she needs until the last
moment. And when she has no more moments to live, she shall pass into the
keeping of someone who shall be as faithful with her as she was with
June persevered not only for herself but for all of us who were so lost and
scared when Mulitiple Myeloma came into our lives. Thank you and thank God for
letting her walk the road with us.
I wish I could have been at the Memorial -- to hear the stories and
memories of June. In the normal measure of time, I knew her for just a little
while -- and was hoping to have many more years of her quick humor, her wealth
of knowledge and willingness to share, her empathy and emotional support.
But even as I feel a little "cheated", I also feel a growing
sense that June's values and spirit are present and will be for those who need
them. The year now "quickens" to light and the stirring of new life
continues the rhythm, the ebb and flow of all forms of existence. We, and
June, are all part of this -- and, so, we remain connected.
In his poems, the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, created an intensely
metaphorical language to express transcendent meaning and there is one poem
that has special significance for me. I have translated it several times, and
will continue to do so. Translations, by the way, are never really done; there
are always new insights into meaning and the need for new expression. I would
like to offer it now, and hope that you too may, for that "brief
moment", connect with that other reality that is indeed ageless.
We know nothing of this journey,
That is not ours to share with you. We have no reason
To think, either with wonderment and love, or with dread,
Of this death, marvelously distorted
As a tragic mask of lamentation.
Our world is yet filled with roles that we act out. And,
In our concern to please the crowd, death plays its part also,
Although it provides no pleasure.
But yet, as you left us, a faint whisper
Of reality appeared upon the stage -- drifting from the
Portal through which you passed: the greenest of all greens;
Pure sunlight; ageless forests.
We play on. Reciting, declaiming that which we
Have learned with effort and hardship,
And adding the occasional gesture.
But then, every now and then, your existence,
Torn away from ours, returns to surround us,
Emanating consciousness of that reality, so that
We, transported there for a brief moment,
Play at life a little longer -- but not thinking of applause.
She is a presence who touches our spirit and souls.
Though we would like to paint images of fluffiness around
those we cared for and love
And to smooth out the rough surfaces of memory
I prefer to think of my friend in all her feistiness and zip.
The sharp and clever tongue, that could also be kind,
and, though she might cringe, loving.
There was little space for fools, but a good measure of
space for foolishness.
There was a true sense of fun and play that I too rarely saw:
I regret that the most.
But that is June, for whenever we knew her, accept her
on her own terms or move on.
I embrace the paradox of who she is...
Look around! The room is full. Multiply this by a thousand,
The many who have been touched by her
Kindness and help. The many who found strength and
Courage to keep fighting.
The many who now persevere, because she showed the way.
By life and deed, I believe she said this:
Life is short, live it well, and fully. Give your best.
Be as present as possible. Focus on the essentials:
Love, kindness, family, and friends.
The rest will follow.
So my friend, how shall I remember you best?
Your voice on the answering machine still speaks to
"If you don’t leave a message, I won’t know you called."
So the message I leave is this…
Thanks for your inspiration. Thanks for your guidance.
Thanks for the toughness and tenacity when it was
So easy to quit. Thanks for being just who you were
Without compromise or apology.
Thanks for opening the many doors to the house with many rooms.
Thanks for being just,
(I hope in your next life you live in a country cottage, on the southern
coast of California, next to an English sweet shop.)
As an educator, a practitioner, an Acupuncturist, and a
friend, I knew June for a dozen years. She
was one of the most brilliant and hardest workers our profession, or any
profession, has ever known. Up until just before her death, while struggling
daily with fatigue, pain and disabling and intrusive therapies, she remained a
devoted mother of two sons, a wife, and at her desk, every day, keeping in
touch with all of the work she had helped to start. She will be sorely missed.
June was one of the founders of the Acupuncture Society
of NY in 1990, and its President until 1995. She battled to represent the
interests of the emerging Acupuncture profession in this state. She
helped to shape the regulations that would govern our practices.
She worked on strategies to put forward Acupuncture and Oriental
Medicine as a reputable, sound, evidence-based professional practice.
June was a close, personal friend. I carried her sons,
David and Jessie, on my shoulders when they were little.
They are grown now. I sat with
them in the hospital as we explored what her illness would mean to them all. June would call me, and ask me to speak with her son, and her
husband, Dean, to explain what her current treatment would mean. It was
vitally important to her that they understand.
She was a tireless teacher, so she also taught with this illness.
June was only 43 when she died, far too young. June was
headed for a brilliant career in science and medicine.
But, long before her bout with Multiple Myeloma, illness interfered,
and when Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine provided an answer that
conventional medicine had not been able to provide, she turned to our
profession and applied all of her unbelievable energy towards it. Her
accomplishments are widely known.
June was a tireless friend.
She and I were both early risers, enjoying the morning hours when only
we were stirring. Who else, I wonder,
will I call at 6:30 in the morning, to discuss the news of the day?
She was a devoted mother, who protected her sons like a
lioness, fighting, in spite of her exhaustion and pain, for everything that
they need. She told me last spring,
when her younger son, Jessie, was preparing to graduate from high school, and
her older son, David, was just finishing his formal years in college, that she
would not go from this world until they were launched, ready, able to stand on
their own. She kept her promise.
She left them in good hands, with her husband, Dean.
She stood by them, and they stood by her. Dean struggled alongside her with her illness, supporting her work
to understand it and to help others. Her
sons lived with her illness as she did, day by day.
Jessie was with her when she died, as he had been throughout the
struggle. Both he and David were at
home when she was taken to the hospital for this last time.
She left them all knowing that they were loved.
When we started the Mercy College Graduate Program in
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, in Dobbs Ferry, NY, June was there.
Dobbs Ferry is only 10 minutes down the Hudson River from her home.
She knew, then, in 1996, that she was dying.
June donated her collection of rare and privately printed
texts to the College Library. It is
known as the June Brazil Collection. She
served on our Advisory Board. She spoke
with me every day about our progress, our trials and our difficulties.
She advised. She listened. She
Crucial in bringing Acupuncture into the modern age, June
worked to bring diverse schools of thought into the Acupuncture
world. June was dedicated to scientific exploration of the basis for
claiming efficacy for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She insisted on
evidence, and on academic rigor. More
than anyone else, she was the driving force that brought the Academy’s
publication of Acupuncture Efficacy
to reality, and was working on two projects for new books when she died.
Since her diagnosis in 1994, June applied this same
energy to the Myeloma community.
June will live on for me, and for all of us.
She will live on through her work with cancer patients and families.
She will live on through her husband, through her children. She will live on through her contributions to the world of
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Our students now and always will know her.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Acupuncturists who owe her so much,
survive her. Hundreds of Myeloma patients who owe her so much survive her.
And hundreds of friends will survive her.
I first met June on the Hem-Onc list in December 1996. Gosh, was that only
three years ago? She became my "heroine" and I told her that on many
occasions. I tried to model my own "ministry" with myeloma friends
after her own, but I’m still in awe of all she managed to do regardless of
her own personal problems.
June combined some interesting talents. She had become well versed in both
Eastern and Western healing arts, but she also knew well the limitations of
both. She had little patience with those who would worship solely at either of
those altars when it came to myeloma treatment. But I think it was her
humanity, her compassion, her caring that stood out in my mind. While her
knowledge was impressive, her humanity was prodigious - and compelling to me.
I’d like to think that much of what anyone might find to be "good"
in my own myeloma ministry is a reflection of what I learned from June.
And now our June has graduated, moved on. Although I feel a great loss, as
so very many others do, I know that June would just encourage me to fill in
those gaps that her passing has left. We know how to do that; she taught us
I have been so wonderfully blessed by these past three years with her. I
will think of her often, not least when I pour my nightly "shot" of
Essiac Tea that we both used regularly.
June was my older sister, but more importantly, my friend. She always had a
desire for life and was an explorer who always wanted to know more, most
probably searching for all the answers that elude us.
June always loved animals, including our family’s chameleons, bird, cat
and dogs – a tradition that she continued throughout her life.
In her search for knowledge she crossed through such territories as
biology, ballet, film-making, Tai Chi, naturopathy and acupuncture. Attending
such prominent schools as NYU and Sarah Lawrence and dancing with the Joffrey
Ballet, it was always clear that she was "top" in her class!
She was always there, and sometimes when you wouldn't get an answer to your
call or e-mail, you knew that she got your message and even that would comfort
you. She was a good listener and a constructive advisor, always trying to
maximize a person's potential as she did in her own life.
Even though her personal situation was quite difficult she never saddled
people with it, and was still willing to be there for other people facing
similar or different circumstances. She always made people feel welcome, and
kept her door open and let people know that there was always room for them in
her life and in her house.
In my travels through different cultures I have experienced people who
celebrate someone's passing, not to be glad that the person is gone, but to
honor the presence and contributions of that person during their lifetime, and
to respect the fact that their memory will remain.
June, you accomplished much in your lifetime and have left us a legacy. We
won't let you down, even as you continue your journey!
Last night I sat and watched the video tape of June's Memorial Celebration.
There were so many words shot up into the sky like fireworks trying to
reach her star, but they all seemed pale compared to June. I think of her
daily and her strength, drive and passion which even in the worst of times
carried her above the crowds.
I said that you were a diamond in the rough, not because you weren't
complete, not because you weren't perfect, but because I know there was so
much you still wanted to do! It was comforting to see all the friends and
contacts you had which in turn added even more dimension to your life, which
you also reflected back to others in your life.
Sometimes I felt jealous because you were always busy in many different
ways and with many different people. Yes, I'm sure there are more people who
wanted to keep you to themselves. But we all knew it would be against your
nature. So we were always glad to see you fly and honored when you would come
and perch yourself for a time in our lives.
There were so many silent understandings, that even now when these
questions arise in my mind, I know that they never really needed to be asked.
You are still with me. Inspiring me with your strength and courage to carry
on. I'll miss you words of wisdom leading me in the right direction, but the
words that you left me will ring true for the rest of my life.
I see so much of you in me. You were here when I was born and I was here
when you died. No distance could keep us apart -- our emotions and loved
crossed borders on every level. I was there for you and you were there
for me, never asking why or why not, but just knowing.
Now I am still here for you and Dean, David and Jessie too. Unspoken words
are timeless, unspoken words are precious, bonds bring us together no matter
the distance. We are able to move on together all because of you!