A week before his death in 1991, my late partner Bill Prosser left the hospital, determined not to die in the midst of the machinery of modern medicine. He was a theater director and he insisted on his own setting for the last act. We climbed the stairs to our fourth floor walk-up very slowly, knowing he would never climb them again. The next morning, he lost control of his breathing. I called the visiting nurse, who told him he would die unless got his breath under control. Using meditation, he managed to pull himself back.
The next few days were rich with talk and memory until one evening he suddenly became incoherent. Sitting in our apartment surrounded by the clutter of illness – boxes of adult diapers and chucks, pulse monitors and intravenous nutrition bags – I suddenly felt totally helpless and abandoned. I called our friends Fred and Erica, who dropped everything to be with us. Soon the apartment was straightened and a delicious dinner was prepared. The impromptu dinner party brought Bill back again for a short while. That night, and for the next few days, God’s help came to us through my non-religious friends.