"I remember the time when I was about 4 years old; I thought “I wonder where all the people who died really went?” And I remember asking people about it and nobody seemed to know, just like that, nobody knew. 

I wanted to live doing a lot of different things. Of course I wanted to love people, both men and women, just loving them as a person and I always wanted to have children. I never really was afraid of dying when I was the only one who had a brain tumor because I just... I wasn't afraid, I just thought, Jamie was here. And then just about a year had passed and then Jamie woke up one morning and he said: “I'm very sick would you please call an ambulance.” So we had two craniotomies and two brain tumors within a year. And Jamie died fourteen months after his diagnosis and he died like a scientist would die. He wanted to be in every experiment. And that was totally up to him.  But I've seen with my whole family that they’re the same way, always looking for a cure and I said: “I'm in hospice because I'm dying.” I mean people are born and people die, that's part of life but we don't deal with it, we don't talk about. It gets better, after you talk about it for a long time. I mean it isn't something you talk about for a minute and get.

I think Michael, my son and I are still dealing with leaving each other and we are in the throws of that. And it's rough, to look at your son who is in his 20s and say, “I won't see my grandkids, I won't see your guitar playing and I won't see which field you go in, which of course is going to be great.” And I feel now that I’ve lived about as long as I can live. There’s a few things that’s ending too short. But if I really look back and think about everything, I’m very happy about my life."


Judith and I met at Zen Hospice Project in Hayes Valley, San Francisco. A Boston native, Judith moved to the Bay Area as a young woman where she pursued a career as an oral historian, working with illiterate communities in the East Bay. Judith’s room at the hospice was filled with colorful items, objects of meaning and new things that made her happy. She might have been dying, but she was still alive, and each week she would tell me of new friendships she was making. Judith had the same brain cancer her husband died of and she knew that when she died she would be leaving her young son behind with no parents. With deep love for her son, she committed herself to ensuring that they communicated openly and honestly about what they were both experiencing. Judith died at her home and with family and friends on September 25, 2016.


Judith - Pencil on drawing and tissue papers - 30" x 22" - © Claudia Biçen 2015