Heaven Can Wait

By Art Buchwald
Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Even though I'm in a hospice, I'm not going to Heaven immediately. My doctor said I could stop over in Martha's Vineyard on the way.

For those who have been wondering what this is all about, it has to do with the fact that my kidneys weren't working and I didn't want to take dialysis, which is a machine you are attached to three times a week for five hours.

In February I was warned that if I didn't take dialysis I wouldn't survive more than two or three weeks.

Since I didn't want dialysis, I decided to move into a hospice and go quietly into the night.

For reasons that even the doctors can't explain, my kidneys kept working, and what started out as a three-week deathwatch has turned into nearly four months.

When word got out that I was in a hospice, I became a celebrity. I was on all the TV shows and the notice of my intentions was in all the papers, including The Washington Post and the New York Times, which made it valid.

The more publicity I got, the more attention my kidneys got, and instead of going quietly into the night, I was holding news conferences every day.

Then the mail poured in. People were pleased that I had made my own choice. The letters and e-mails were in the thousands.

At the same time, friends came to the hospice to say goodbye. Everybody felt they should make the pilgrimage. They came with flowers, cheesecake and corned beef sandwiches.

I sat in the salon of the hospice and, pretty soon, when people came to see me, it was as if they were visiting Lourdes. They came to be blessed and cured.

Since I was expected to die soon, the French ambassador gave me the literary equivalent of the Legion of Honor. Because of the publicity I've gotten, the National Hospice Association made me man of the year.

I never realized dying was so much fun.

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