In the weeks right before her death, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was still conferring on cases, penning notes to friends and continuing to schedule social events, including a wedding that she was to officiate the day she died.
Ginsburg, who had been fighting complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas, was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore a week earlier, stayed for a few days, and returned home on September 11, according to two people familiar with the situation. Her medical condition during that time is not known, and the Supreme Court public information officer said on Thursday that the family did not wish to provide details of Ginsburg’s final days.
The 87-year-old justice’s situation turned severe the week of September 14, and she died the evening of September 18, surrounded by her family.
Until the sudden end, the woman who had become known as the “Notorious RBG” was living as if there would be more tomorrows.
An in-demand wedding officiant: Eric Motley, whose wedding she was to officiate the night of her death, was told two days earlier, without reference to Ginsburg’s medical condition, that the wedding would have to be postponed.
“I had been in touch with the chambers, in preparation for Friday,” Motley told CNN. “They said we need to push it back, let’s look at some other days.”
Motley, who wrote about the planned wedding with Ginsburg in an essay for the New York Times, told CNN that he and the justice had exchanged personal emails during the summer and that she had sent him an upbeat note and photograph of the two of them, speaking with a maestro during an opera reception, pre-coronavirus. Ginsburg and Motley, who came to Washington as a special assistant to President George W. Bush, first met in 2002 at a dinner party and realized they shared a love of music.
Ginsburg had planned to marry Motley and his fiancée in a quiet ceremony on a patio at her apartment. She had officiated at a similar outdoor ceremony last month, after which the newlyweds posted a photo on Twitter. Ginsburg, clad in her black judicial robe and one of her distinctive decorative collars, was sitting at a lectern between them.
Motley, executive vice president of the Aspen Institute, said of Ginsburg’s spirits in recent communications: “They were always good, always strong. This was a woman who was made to live. And she will live on.”
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