When she was a child we called her ‘Junebug’ and it stuck!

My beautiful sister June, three years my junior–my best friend, confidant and inspiration– passed to heaven on Monday night, March 13 as her daughter Meagan and my two daughters, Julie and Erin, and I held her hands till her last breath. I had a special time with her when she was still conscious but could not speak. I recited scripture, sang a song, shared memories and brought a smile. I know she heard me and I’m thanking God for that last moment together.

June age 3 (left) and Karen (age 6) on the right.

She died of a rare condition called Multiple System Atrophy, which over time (four years in her case) gradually robs one of any ability to control the body until every part shuts down and death follows. It has been so difficult to watch her decline and yet maintain her spirit and her connection to our family.

June and her daughter Meagan, who has given June her first grandchild.

She is leaving a long and amazing legacy of university teaching, writing, speaking and mentoring, mothering and ‘friend-ing.’

Heaven’s gain is our loss.

June, may you rest in peace after a long life of giving and loving.

“…the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)

Our brother Kevin and his family, cousin Carol on the left first row, me, and beautiful June, lower right, at a better time.

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Remembering Dear ‘Junebug’ — 40 Comments

  1. What a lovely tribute, Karen, to your precious sister, June. I can’t wait to meet her in heaven. You are God’s gift to me and many others in the ways you share your life. I love you and pray for your deep comfort now.
    Virelle

    • Oh Virelle, thanks so much. I remember you being one of the first to know and empathize with me when I received the news of Charles’ cancer and impending death. And here you are again to comfort me in the loss of my sister. I appreciate you, dear friend, though miles keep us apart.

  2. Oh, Karen, I’m just so sorry for your family. Thank heaven that you know where June is spending eternity–and that she’s out of pain now. Even so, it’s such a loss when someone is as special as that. Praying for comfort for you and June’s children.

    • Thank you, Kristi. As one friend said to me, “It’s a different kind of pain when you lose a sibling–especially one younger than you are.”

  3. So sorry to hear about your sister’s passing. So very difficult to watch, but what a blessing to be able to spend the last few hours with her and hold her hand. I now find comfort and joy for the blessing of being with my mom in her last hours on this earth.
    What a gift for your sister to hear your soothing, gentle voice during her last hours; and to know her family was close by. God Bless you and your family. Thoughts and prayers to you. Sue Machado

  4. Karen, I’m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to her and the special relationship you had.

    • Thanks for being with me during June’s last hours. It meant so much to me for all of us to be together. I love you.

  5. Karen, your love for June comes through so clearly in this beautiful tribute. I too look forward to meeting June in heaven and telling her what a gift her sister is to me. Praying for God’s comfort as you deal with this enormous loss, and thanking God for the precious memories you hold dear. Much love.

    • Thank you, Carol. We’ll all rejoice one day together–but meanwhile, I will miss dearest Junebug!

  6. Karen, So sorry to hear of the passing of your dear sister. May God provide you comfort at this difficult time.

    • Thank you, Nancy. I wish you could have known June. You’d have enjoyed each other so much–both university professors and mentors to so many.

  7. Karen, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Your written tribute to your sister was beautiful, yet I’m sure only touches the fringes of your emotions and life-long relationship. I similarly memorialized my only brother last Saturday. He passed away on February 17th, so I can freshly feel your grief. Thank God for the hope we have in heaven. It will be, as the Irish say, a mighty reunion. God’s Comfort and Blessings, my friend.

    • Judi, oh my. I didn’t know about your brother’s passing. We share our grief. So hard to lose a sibling. May the Holy Spirit comfort us both.

  8. Karen, Thank you for sharing about your wonderful sister, June. I love the nickname you have for her. I’m sorry for that empty place you will have in your life with her gone. Prayers for God’s comfort for you. Love, Pam

    • Thanks, Pam. I do have an empty spot in my heart and in my life–but good friends like you are with me and God will comfort me, I know.

  9. Beautifully written about your dear sister Karen. You have been the best sister anyone could hope for. I know you have had a very difficult few years visiting June often and seeing the changes each time. You were blessed to have your girls with you to share June’s transition. Don and I are sending you love and prayers of comfort and hope to see you again soon. Our sincere condolences dear friend. Your faith will give you strength and insight during these sad days. Take good care of yourself. You are indeed loved by SO many of us.

    • Thank you, Kathleen. You and Don know the pain of losing a sibling so your words of comfort are especially dear to me, as are you both.

  10. How my heart goes out to you, dear Karen, in your profound loss. I am blessed with two sisters, and I can only imagine how hard that goodbye would be. This is such a beautiful tribute and lovely photos. I’m sending you my love and hugs and looking forward to all the glorious family reunions when we believers are all on the other side together. Sending love and hugs to you, my friend.

    • Judy, many thanks for your loving words of sympathy. I receive your hugs and love and appreciate both.

  11. Such a beautiful tribute, Karen. I’ll continue to pray for comfort from the Lord for you and June’s family during this time of loss. Love you!

    • Thank you, Glenda. I know I can always count on you for prayer. We’ve seen each other through many a challenge and trial by praying.

  12. Dear Karen,
    What a beautiful tribute to your beautiful sister! You are blessed with the wonderful memories and this adorable photo of you and June ! So precious! Your family photo is priceless also.
    I share your grief! I had three brothers and three sisters, me the youngest of the “lucky seven” as I called us. I am the only one left but I am so thankful I know we will meet again and I have such wonderful memories and great photo’s like yours. We were very fortunate to have each other as long as we did and I thank God literally for all of our blessings. YOU are a great example to follow!! Thank you!
    I will be thinking of you and Junes family!
    Love to you, Margaret

    • Margaret, many thanks for your kind words and shared memories of your siblings. You know the pain of losing loved ones but we also share the promise of life eternal when we’ll be in their company again.

  13. Such a dear soul, she must have been a joy to all of you. Your description of her was beautiful.
    God comfort and bless her family and all of you that loved her. Wonderful to know that she is “whole again”. “When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!”

    • Etta Mae, thanks for reminding me of the words to this delightful hymn. You will see your loved ones and I will see mine and we all will rejoice!

    • Thank you, Jan. You’ve been such a faithful prayer warrior for me. I appreciate you and your support and you are among those I pray for, as well.

  14. Karen your words about your sister brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing how you sang to her, held her hand, and poured your love into her as she was preparing to be with the Lord.The pictures are so beautiful. What a beautiful legacy she has passed on. I love you and will continue to pray for you and your family.

    • Thank you, Sandy. I appreciate your many prayers and years of support for June and for me.

  15. Karen, I was deeply moved by your beautiful tribute to “Junebug”. She has been in my prayers, especially these last four years. She is Home at last. I remember the photo of you both as little children, so sweet. My love and thoughts to everyone. “Cousin Carol”

    • Thank you, Carol. It’s lovely to receive your encouraging words about our dear Junebug! I’ve heard from some of the O’Connor cousins too. So nice to have family all around.

  16. Karen I know it’s difficult to give up a loved one. I am sorry for the departure of your sister. I went to a funeral today for my friend’s son and his uncle was sobbing so hard that I could feel his heart breaking. There wasn’t any effective words to console him. But you know you will see June again when this timeframe shifts. God Bless!

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