In 1981 my twenty-eight-year-old husband was diagnosed as having acute lymphatic leukemia. [We] were living in Nashville, Tennessee, and were told by doctors that his only chance of survival was a through a bone-marrow transplant. They felt we needed to go to Houston’s cancer hospital, M.D. Anderson, for treatment.
…we spent a year living there, and, yes, it was a nightmare. Death and sorrow at every turn.
On January 4, 1982, at 3 a.m. I was awakened by a nurse telling me that C. was gone! Yes, gone. …C. had been too weak from his last dose of chemo to walk without help.
Also, … , for some reason, I slept as if I was in a coma. Prior to that night I was at his side if I heard a pin drop on the floor! I was in tune to this man’s needs, awake or asleep. My cot, when folded out for the night, was maybe eight inches away from his bed.
The nurses were a bit shaken. I jumped up and took off down the hall. … My eye caught movement through the glass panel in the eleventh-floor chapel. I went to the door and peeked in, I couldn’t believe—there was C. with his back toward me sitting with a man.
First I was mad, because I had been frightened, then I was scared because who was this man? He was not anyone I had seen before. Where did he come from at three in the morning? When I entered the very small room, his eyes went to the floor, and I felt that he did not want me to see his face. I was suspicious. I was talking to C. but I was trying to get a look at this man. “C.,” I said, “where have you been?”
This man had on a red-checked flannel work shirt, blue jeans, and brand-new lace-up work boots. His hair was cut in a buzz cut and was white; his skin was white; he had the appearance of being transparent! Only once did our eyes met, and his were ice blue. I studied and studied him, for lots of reasons, first because he was here with C., and C. was smiling and laughing and seemed so strong, and also because I wanted to make sure he was not dangerous. Then C. spoke, “M., it’s okay, I’ll be back in the room in a little while.”
…I went back to the nurses and told them I had found C. in the chapel. They were very relieved. I waited about thirty minutes. When C. returned, he was happy and full of energy. … “M., he was an angel.”
… It seemed C. had been summoned, I had been put into a deep sleep, and the nurses for some reasons just didn’t see him when he passed by.
C. told me that he just jerked awake and had this overpowering urge to go to the chapel. He was on his knees praying in the chapel when this voice asked him if he was C.D., and he said yes. He never heard this man enter the room, but when he turned around, the man was there. … They both knelt at the altar and … the man told C. not to worry, that all his prayers had been answered.
…The next day C. was happier and more energetic than I had seen him in months. Somehow the weight of carrying around a terminal illness had left him.
…That afternoon C. had a pulmonary hemorrhage and died calling my name.
…Needless to say, my memories are always with me. –M.D.F., Atlanta, GA