"It was one day, I don’t remember the day right this very second, I was probably 6 or 7 or 8… but the anguish of thinking, of feeling, of realizing that I would die one day was overwhelming. I didn’t confide in anyone about this, these feelings. I mean, I just couldn’t. If I would be giving advice to my younger self, I would very simply say, “Not to worry”, that things are much more normal and natural than people make them of.

I really think that the big mystery, the big mystery, comes from the moment we are born. Where are we coming from and how do we form this geometric profile of ourselves that is already sealed upon this birth, from way before? Instead dying is much more concrete.

If you want me to tell you what I believe in, I think I would believe in just about nothing at all. Really truly. It’s all a fantasy. There’s an abyss involved, but I don’t feel it. The more each day passes I feel less resentful. Resent is not something that is part of what is happening to me. I’m not angry. I feel I don’t criticize the world as I used to. I feel I accept the world as it comes and it goes. And I don’t think it’s that important, the world.

I always thought that in the end one is afraid of dying, and I may very well be eventually. But as far as I can tell you right now, this very minute, I kind of have the feeling, the idea that it is not going to be a major event. It’s just going to happen." 


Introduced through Hospice by the Bay, Daniel and I met weekly in his room in a high-rise SRO block in San Francisco’s SOMA. A graduate of Harvard University and friends with Spanish royalty, Daniel lost all of his wealth when he was cut out of his father’s business empire and struggled with mental health issues. Now sharing hallways with the city’s most disenfranchised residents, Daniel would still go for caviar and champagne once a week using money from his estranged son. Daniel was adamant that death did not trouble him and that he was simply letting the “gentle flow of a river” carry him towards the end. Several weeks after our interviews were completed, I went to visit him at Coming Home Hospice in San Francisco. In floods of tears and wrecked with terror, Daniel held onto me like a child. The next day, on July 22, 2015, Daniel died alone in his room.


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