Sunday, September 20, 2020

She, too, was a great soul

June Omura Goldberg also died this week. I can’t bear to think of the world without her kind spirit, her dancing eyes. I first met June when I was a young, fresh out of J-school reporter at LIFE magazine. June was the chief of research and she was my rock, my center of calm, the person I could go to for anything, with anything, or just to share stories or a laugh. She talked about her family with such love and pride and let us share our families as well. She was at my wedding on her birthday, August 23, 1986, and every year I think of that, and feel that it’s a special blessing to have been married on June’s birthday. She took care of all us reporters, made each one of us feel that she was looking out especially for us—and I really believe she was at that. She had the hugest heart. A laugh like music. That giggle. She was my safe place in my first job in journalism. She made me feel as if I belonged in that rarified world and could do whatever I was called on to do. I have carried her belief in me ever since. The photo is from the last time I had lunch with her and two others from our LIFE magazine days. We dined in a cafe at Lincoln Center. June loved the ballet and the opera. She was a gift to us all. Rest now, dear June. You are so loved.


Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance, fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable
ignorance of
dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.



  1. Wow. I'd never read that poem of Maya Angelou's. How exactly and marvelously it describes the death of a great spirit. And what a beautiful tribute you gave to the great spirit of June Omura Goldberg. I am so glad that she was part of your life because she helped you to be who you are. Which, by the way, is also a very great soul.

  2. A beautiful tribute to a radiant soul. It is good to meet her. Yes. We can be.

  3. two losses of great women on one week.

  4. Powerful, inspirational women making a difference in the world. Leaving it a better place. We need to be better too. Thanks for sharing her story.

  5. A truly loving and beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing her story and this poem. May her memory be a blessing.

  6. What a perfect tribute. We are so lucky when we have caring mentors in our life.

  7. A lovely tribute, I am sorry for your loss.

  8. I am so sorry that you've suffered this double loss. What a gorgeous tribute, and that poem! I'm sending you virtual hugs and real love surges.

  9. Thank you for sharing your tribute to June who was clearly one of the gentle giants in your life and others--how doubly hard this week has been for you. And how utterly perfect is Maya Angelou's poem...capturing so succinctly how it feels these days as we reel from the loss of those who gave so much to so many.

  10. Two substantial losses in a week! I'm sorry you've lost your friend and former colleague -- but your memories sound precious and you have conveyed her warm spirit so well.

  11. It seems like all the good ones are leaving us. I'm sorry for your loss, I really am.

  12. Your beautiful friend and colleague's loss is a sad moment in our time, but the words that you wrote to describe her will live on in the beautiful tribute that you shared of her so we could see her in your eyes. It is so hard to lose anyone but a friend in the same week as RBG is doubly hard. Please know that I am thinking of you, friends and family as well. Big Hugs xoxoxoxoxoxo

  13. I forgot to say what a very beautiful poem. I had not read that one before that I can remmember but it is so very touching. Thanks for sharing that with us.

  14. What a wonderful smile. I am sorry for your loss and love the poem which I, also, did not know.