Waltzing with Death
Waltzing With Death
by William E. Mayer, M.D. and Heidi Mayer, R.N.
There are two great adventures in life; one of these marks the beginning and the second, the end of every one of our lives. Not everyone thinks of these events as great adventures, but they most certainly are. This book is about that second big adventure – the very last one – that we are now sharing with everybody else who has ever lived and now wants to share vicariously with you. A team of fine doctors has concluded that I am actively in the process of dying and announced I will do so sooner, rather than later. They are talking about weeks or possibly months, but not as much as half a year. This is not exactly a unique adventure for me. I experienced it once before and managed to come back home relatively intact, but I was fifty years younger then, and in good shape. Now I am eighty-five years old, not in such good shape, and unlikely to come back.
The part of this adventure that I am able to share is under way in the company of a lovely, lively lady, 20 years my junior, who is a trained psychiatric nurse in addition to being a regular R.N. We have worked closely together for more than forty years serving other people during difficult times in their lives. Since I have been a physician for more than sixty years, trained in neurology and psychiatry, we speak very much the same language. The bulk of what follows will be her thoughts, as the "care-taker", inasmuch as this can be and often is the more complex and demanding role for one of the two leading characters in this last of life's dramas. After every couple of chapters she produces, I – the one who is about to depart – will add a “postscript” giving my account of the period or events she has just talked about, trying to tell you what it looks like from my role in it all.
This, then, is a love story, a survivor's tale, a travelogue of sorts describing great and growing faith as we confront many challenges, and in the end, a great trip. It is, as so often true, the trip, rather than the destination, that matters most.