In 1994, Morrie is given a "death sentence" (2.1).
Morrie has a hunch that something's not right when he realizes that he can't dance anymore.
In his able days, Morrie would go dancing every Wednesday night, all by himself. He loved dancing to all kinds of music, and didn't care that people probably thought he was just crazy. For the record, he's not crazy all, and instead he's incredibly intelligent and learned.
In his sixties, Morrie develops asthma and is hospitalized after collapsing one autumn day.
Next he has trouble walking, and though everyone tells him it's just old age, he knows inside that it's something else.
After lots of tests he's diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, a neurological disease that slowly leaves your body paralyzed, starting from the legs up.
Morrie and his wife are faced with the overwhelming question of figuring out what to do now that this bomb has dropped on their lives.
He starts feeling the initial effects of his illness. He can't drive, eventually can't walk, and then can't even use the bathroom on his own.
He breaks the news to his students in a very diplomatic way, saying that since he may not live to see the semester through, they are more than welcome to drop the course if they prefer. (Note: Mitch has long since graduated at this point.)
The author describes ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) as melting your body like wax from a candle.
So Morrie faces the fact that he has less than two years left in the most optimistic way possible: He decides to look at the rest of his life as a project, learning, researching, and narrating that "final bridge between life and death" (2.42).
That being said, he starts entertaining lots of visitors and enjoying the company of others. After going to a colleague's funeral he decides to have a living funeral that he can actually attend and appreciate; everybody laughs and cries.
This funeral isn't the end, though, our narrator says.