The doctors at Mayo Clinic certainly spend a great deal of their time pointing out the dangerous and risky nature of blood and marrow stem cell transplants. They are required to describe in detail all the things that can go wrong with the process, all the terrible outcomes that are statistically and distinctly possible. Much can go awry, they say, and then they add that I could die. As they do so, they look me right in the eyes, as if to probe my thoughts and find all those dark little shadows, the dim and shapeless fears dancing about behind my orbs.
I spent hours closeted with a psychologist and even a few minutes with a psychiatrist, as they measured my resolve and my coping skills. However, in my life I have seen death. I've witnessed it, smelled it, and even tasted it. I have danced with death more than once myself, most recently as I drifted, sleepily, near the brink during a blast crisis. I remember dancing a fiery dance with death when only 18 months old. And I remember the shivering dance and cold pain when my appendix nearly burst at age 14. I watched a friend die in a sudden, horrible accident, and stood the death watch as my mother slowly passed from this world. I held the lifeless body of a dear friend and tried to blow life back in...to no avail. Death and I, we are acquainted. My dreams of late have reviewed these meetings, and my prayers have sought solace and understanding.
William Hazlitt said: "To die is only to be as we were before we were born." Jesus said that life is everlasting...
There was a time there was no me.
Why should I worry to cease to be?
All those centuries I was not there,
Why should my absence cause much care?
I journeyed on Earth, some time to spend,
Yet ev'ry journey has an end;
Though my weary body down must lie,
My soul, my spirit does not die.
I feel no need to worry or cry,
We talked about it, God and I.
I will simply cease on Earth to roam,
Lie down, and sleep my way back home.
Because I lived, because I was me,
I do not fear to cease to be.