SMITH: One of the things that was a plus for both of us was that, since long before this illness, we have had no doubt that the life of the soul is eternal. That this thing we call life, from the time we are born to the time we enter the grave or are cremated, is not necessarily the main event. It's an important event in the life of the soul, but not the whole event. And yet, until you are really tested by the threat of the death of someone very close to you, that's all very nice and academic, easy to discuss and even believe. Jane never faltered in her belief about that. On the day when she received the first diagnosis about the malignant cells, she said, "I'm not afraid to die, but I don't want to go this soon, because I have these lovely grandchildren who I want to see grow up, and you and I have this lovely marriage." She just wanted to put it off for a while. Of course, everybody wants to do that. I did, too, and I believed we could. But that didn't work out.
REDWOOD: I read a fascinating passage in the book, Health Through Balance, by Yeshi Donden, who for many years was the physician to the Dalai Lama. He said that from the Tibetan perspective, when there is an illness that does not respond to any treatment of any kind, that is a clear sign that the cause of the illness must be karmic. Do you believe this may have been true in Jane's case?
SMITH: I really don't have any way of knowing. We had the benefit of several intuitive readings concerning Jane, both before and after her death, and they offered some insights that I've thought a lot about. One of them suggested that Jane, from an early age, was kind of programmed to be fearful of being alone... she was concerned that I would pre-decease her. Whenever I would say to her, around the house, "Is there anything I can do for you?" she would say, "Just last." [Laughter]. It was a wise remark and a wise-guy remark. It really did express her hope that I would last a long time. I never dreamed that she would predecease me.
After she died, I went to see a woman who has had success in talking with people who are in grief. She gives psychic readings, and she said she got in touch with Jane, and that Jane was told that the reason for her illness was not that we had done something wrong, or that she had neglected something, but that she had fulfilled her mission of service in this life.
REDWOOD: In reading your account of Jane's illness, I noted two lines of thought which seem paradoxical. First, there's the sense that Jane, at age 70, had concluded on a soul level that her life's work was complete. Then, there's the intensive search for an effective treatment for her cancer, and the question of whether an earlier diagnosis might have given her a much longer life in good health. How do you square the circle? How do you reconcile these two notions?
SMITH: We did all the searching, and made all the efforts to cure her, to eradicate the disease, while she was still alive. We didn't get this psychic information until after she died. And then we were told, in effect, that it would have been hopeless in any event. I felt that it was important to write this book simply to illustrate the conflict between alternative and allopathic medicine, and the unfair position it puts many patients in, because the more we talk about that, the more we're likely to get some resolution of that problem. Not everybody is destined to die when they get cancer; many people are able to cope with it in less traumatic ways. There's no way to know whether, if the first time Jane had that back pain, she’d had an x-ray and we’d discovered that she had cancer... there’s no way to know whether we could have arrested it. It's just an unknown.