It began as just another night, but it didn't end up that way. They had made the four–hundred and fifty mile trip in the usual amount of time, and, then, once they were back in their apartment, they settled in, had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, and eventually headed off to bed.
It was a November night in New York, on the cool side and very comfortable. Sleep—and dreams—progressed as they usually did, until the intense headache and chest pains woke him up. They were sharp and they were deep—and he knew that he was in trouble. So much so, that even though he was someone who was totally averse to doctors and hospitals, the first thing that came out of his mouth when he shook his wife to wake her was, "I think I need to go to the hospital."
She turned on the light to look at him, and for the first time, he could look at himself. There he was clutching his chest with deep purple hands.
She called 9–1–1 and the F.D.N.Y. was there in a matter of minutes, followed moments later by two paramedics. They took his blood pressure and found that his pulse rate was at four hundred beats per minute.
Immediately after that, he was put on a stretcher and taken down to the ambulance where one of the paramedics hooked him up to get an EKG reading. The wife sat there as the tech read the results.
"He's in V–Tach," the tech said to her and then called to his partner, "you better start driving and make it fast."
So, there he was—on his back—looking out the rear window down 203rd Street.
It was then—at one very specific instant—that he watched the reality of the street behind them, begin—almost in a Star Trek sort of fashion—to warp speed away—and he knew that he was getting close to dying.
He continued to watch the world recede and knew what was coming next. It was going to be the tunnel and the light that would beckon to him to come to it.