On February 7, 2005, Judith wrote the following to a friend: “I decided early on that God had a reason for me to have cancer. I’m not sure I have completely understood His message, but I have decided to be an advocate for early detection with the women I know. In addition, there have been several opportunities to develop a deeper relationship with my close friends and daughters (shaving my head, buying a wig, sitting for 3-5 hours during chemo sessions) and most especially for Fran and I a deepening in our marriage commitment.” She believed that her life experiences enabled her “to rise above the cancer and make a potentially negative situation be an opportunity for positive energy and growth.”
There were plenty of times during this journey when I felt frustrated that my parents were hiding things from us kids. Once again I was only looking at things from a child’s perspective. I felt entitled to the truth and did not consider how demoralizing it would be to have to deliver that truth. Honestly, how does a mother look her child in the eyes and say, “I am going to die of cancer—not today, but sooner than I would like.”
Of course my mom knew she was dying—and she chose to continue living through each blow cancer served up. She was alive and had things to do just like the rest of us, only now she had “dying” to add to her To-Do list. Looking back on those final months my mom and I had together, I can say there is something about living while you are dying that enables you and those close to you to be available in a way like no other time. As hard as it was for me to literally watch my mom die, I’m glad my mom always chose to truly and fully live.
Sister Catherine Mary
Judith was steadfast in her determination to hold the reins as she prepared to leave the physical world. And she did. But she had the unusual capacity to let people in at the same time. Those who knew her, got to know her better; those who loved her, loved her more than ever; those who had never met her prior to tending to her medical needs, felt they had lost a friend. That was Judith. A wife, a mother, a teacher, a woman of great faith, Judith gave of herself totally.
Give yourself totally and be resolutely ready to die. That is what she says to me every day.