Bellwether Vance

Hounds to the Left of me/Jokers to the Right

Bellwether Vance

Bellwether Vance
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bellwethervance@gmail.com,
Birthday
December 31
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You'd like me. People like me.

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2010 8:53AM

My Mother's Body

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I saw my mother naked five months ago. My aunt was visiting and I stopped by. I rang the doorbell and after a bit my mother appeared on the other side of the screen door, a hand towel covering the front of her naked body. 

I followed her sagging backside into the bedroom where Aunt Lois, recovering from back surgery, lay propped up in the bed. I sat down in a chair beside the bed, chatting with the two of them, while my mother dropped the hand towel and proceeded to dress.

I saw her flattened breasts, her fold-over belly, the patch of hair between her legs, her dimpled thighs, dumpling knees tapering to pudgy ankles, and dainty feet  tucked into the fluffy, blue scuffs I remember buying her last Christmas. It struck me as funny that the toughest part of her – the soles of her feet – were protected, while the tenderest parts of her were exposed. Because I'm adopted I have no map for aging, but looking at her body I could see myself, as the generic old woman we all become, regardless of size or shape. (It is fortunate, however, that we appear similar –  short with dark hair. I tell her she's lucky she didn't get some tall blonde girl.)
 
mermaid-3 
 Old Mermaid (Who does not resemble my mother.)

Prior to this, I had last seen my mother naked thirty years ago and further back, walking in on her while she prepared for work or for bed,  in pale flashes darting toward the laundry room in search of undergarments. I've seen my daughter in flashes too, but not full-on since adolescence, when her body became one of the secrets she kept from me.

I've seen most of my close girlfriends naked as well. Ellen and Mary Tom in high school, after gym class. Sue five years ago when she had surgery to cure her Meniere's disease, getting her into her hospital gown, dressing her to leave. Tracy when she had her boob job. Before the augmentation, in an attempt to convince us of the its necessity, she pulled her top down to show us the horror of her breasts. After surgery, she unwrapped the bandage to show us the horror of the new ones, healing. They looked as hard as armor, which, I suppose, was the purpose all along. 

I was helping Tracy and Kendra in their painting business at the time, and upon seeing the much-inflated chest, Kendra exclaimed, "Oh my Lord! You know you're going to have to haul those things up a ladder!" Since the enhancement, Tracy has grown comfortable wearing more fitted tops and I can't see her cleavage without thinking of  two, heavy buckets of paint.

I saw Aunt Lois naked only a month after her visit. Following additional back surgery, she caught an infection and suffered a massive stroke. In the hospital, her body was treated as a large baby doll, initially cooed over, and then, when the novelty wore off, tossed into a corner. Once the medical profession determines your condition is depressingly ordinary and inglorious, that recovery or death will be slow and boring, without redemptive arc, they quickly lose interest in you. 

As we rolled my aunt, adjusted her position to keep her comfortable, her loosely-fastened gown often slipped, exposing her fully. I was struck by how quickly somebody becomes a mere body. Ignobly asexual. Everyone pretending to be cavalier and professional about the medical nudity, when, really, we're all mortified and terrified by the evidence of human decay.

It brought back painful memories of my Nannie's stroke and ten-year decline. Her beloved skin gradually slipping from her muscles, puddling on the bed, moving toward the ground, as if flesh understands the gravity of graves, and when it is tired it longs to return to the dirt. That's as much grace as I'll allow the process of dying; there is no cruelty in it, just homesickness, a weariness of travel.

I told my husband about the morning, the shock of seeing my mother's body, and we laughed together. The absurdity of it! My mother  -- the Republican Methodist, who never swears, loves her poodle perm and Merle Norman, wears Easy Spirits and jeans that zip all the way up to her rib cage, who drinks Kahlua and cream but only on special occasions -- greeting me at the door, naked! Amid the amusement, it came to me, suddenly and painfully, that I would likely never see my mother naked again. Not like that. Upright, on sturdy legs, unashamed and smiling. I felt it as deeply as if I had already lost her and was merely remembering the morning from a place far into the future. (I do that a lot. Grieve in advance so that when tragedy actually hits, I might get credit for the time I've already put in. It doesn't work. I keep doing it.) Prematurely heartbroken over my mother's death, I did what I always do when inconsolable. I made pie.
 
pie 008 
Inconsolable Pecan Pie
 
 
 
Artwork: "Old Mermaid" Bell Vance Jr. 

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It's fascinating to me that you are writing on the very topic this morning that I pondered so much of the day yesterday, but about my own husband, and the fact that if his children saw him naked (which they are likely to do soon, if they have to help out) they would be stunned. I like the grieving ahead bit. And the pie. This was sensitively done and much appreciated.
Grieving in advance is a really bad habit, and one that's almost impossible to break. The pie was a good idea, though. And I do like your description of the process of dying.
This made me laugh very hard, and then get a little weepy. I, too, tend to grieve in advance, and it always makes my heart feel like an elevator with a broken cable.
Every moment can be a gift. Of course, you already know that. This is lovely and delicate and funny. So intimate and so universal. A beautiful reflection.
Similar experience, but it was my father (quel horror). My mother was suddenly hospitalized and my father had to stay with me in my home for a time. He was disoriented and had to be toileted, showered, etc. Although I helped him into the shower, he bathed himself (thank god), but I never looked at his body - isn't that weird? looked up, down, behind...but not 'at'. I hired a night nurse after 3 days. I let her take over the personal care, knowing I didn't want to see my father's nakedness. As a nurse, I've seen thousands of bodies but with a parent it is different - it's personal. Much more so than I'm comfortable with. As to the pie, I thought there'd be a recipe! (then I realized today is Thursday, not Tuesday, silly me)
I forgot to acknowledge Bell Jr's artwork. I guess the question is, does it look like you? haha. I see a scholarship to art school in that child's future.
it may be because i'm in the eye of the hurricane with my stepmother, but i think this is one of your best yet. the honesty of it is clear as water, mixed with your signature wit and, of course, food. i keep going back and rereading this: "the process of dying; there is no cruelty in it, just homesickness, a weariness of travel." i'll save it to read later, if you don't mind.
Beautiful writing, Ms. Bellwether Vance...I hope that delicious-looking pecan pie consoled you a bit. My mom is a lot like my African violet...she will bloom & fade, bloom & fade. She always surprises me with her glorious comebacks. You just never know. :)
God I look in the mirror and see your mother..Are therre aliens in our body now?
Rated with hugs.
I do so love it when you post. You articulated a lot of the dark and weird things floating in my mind about my aging mother, and this: "(I do that a lot. Grieve in advance so that when tragedy actually hits, I might get credit for the time I've already put in. It doesn't work. I keep doing it.) ," well, all I can say is we are walking the same path and you have cogently said what lives in my addled brain.
I am so glad I've never burned my retina's out by seeing my Mother naked. But men, we don't care. We'll strip in front of the Pope if he would bless up with a couple more inches! :-)
Lovely. And sad. Definitely pie-worthy. I hope you threw some chocolate and bourbon in that pecan pie.
Belle, Love the sensitivity from both sides here. I am a griever-in -advance too, hoping it will soften the blows. Of course, it never does.

At the cottage my ageing (ex) mother-in-law sometimes walked around naked. Umm ... Holy, Moly, I wanted to say put some clothes on but it wasn't my place (literally). I coped by looking away.

I guess I like to think that despite the deterioration of the human body, the power of the spirit transcends. That is, if indeed the mind and spirit remain intact as well! Time to change the subject... Mmmm, pecan pie.
"I do that a lot. Grieve in advance so that when tragedy actually hits, I might get credit for the time I've already put in. It doesn't work. I keep doing it."

I do this too. My sisters and I have grieved my fathers death in advance for so many years, it's a habit.
This was a somewhat embarrassingly fabulous piece of naked writing. When I'd scrolled down far enough to see the pie picture, I thought OH NO! She's going to end with a recipe, like Foodie Tuesday!, and wondered just how you would do that, because you can be so clever that way.

At this point, I've seen my teeny little hairless mom naked so many times, washed her, diapered her, rubbed cream on her. I marvel at that place where I emerged fifty something years ago. The body is an amazing thing really.
Bellwether, a wonderful post and just think of the opposite kind of post in a culture such as deep into the Amazon River area where the title would be "I saw my mother with a dress on!!"
Bell, I started getting seriously queazy at "...the generic old woman we all become...," yet, pulled ever forward by your compelling narrative, I read all the way to the pie, which enabled me to forgive you.
Fascinating post. Something most of us can identify, with. And when you get ill, the body becomes so different in perception. We are all together in this.
"Her beloved skin gradually slipping from her muscles, puddling on the bed, moving toward the ground, as if flesh understands the gravity of graves, and when it is tired it longs to return to the dirt."

This struck me the most in your writing Belle. I've been grieving my mother for a long time now. The process changes stages, as we await the inevitable and contemplate how life goes on forward, robbing all that we cherished from those until we recognize them no more. A preview to our own inescapable future?
~R~
A very sensitive and thought inducing post. I too experienced my mother's body and, so goes mine it seems. Thanks for bringing up and exploring the feelings which come to us all at some time.
Beautiful. Strange, I am also adopted and my mother turns 55 this week—much to her chagrin. She's looking in the mirror and seeing her mother, and I'm looking at her and seeing myself. Someone ought to file womanhood as a new umbrella category of the human condition. Enjoy your mother while she is with you and keep makin' pies.
This is a beautiful piece of writing, Bell. I'm not sure I could be so thoughtful and dignified if my mother answered the door with nothing but fluffy slippers and a hand towel. :) Really, though, very nice piece.

"...as if flesh understands the gravity of graves, and when it is tired it longs to return to the dirt. That's as much grace as I'll allow the process of dying; there is no cruelty in it, just homesickness, a weariness of travel." -- that's some amazing writing.

Will you share your pie recipe?
Kathy -- In writing this, I did think of everyone here who is dealing with ill loved ones. Nakedness isn't something we think about within that process.

Mumble -- The habit is so entrenched in me that I have no hope of breaking it. There is something compelling about the idea that if you anticipate hurt, it won't hurt as much. It makes soooo much sense to be so untrue.

Jeanette -- I like that metaphor!

Annie -- Thanks. I have been very gifted in my life, and my parents are still quite healthy. When I read about what some others are going through with theirs, I'm very grateful (and fearful).

Gabby -- It is too much, that your vision of someone should be changed by seeing them that way, knowing they'd hate it makes it worse. As to the drawing, it looks disturbingly like me. ;)

Femme -- I'm sorry you're really in the thick of it, not just making a practice run.

Clay -- I'm sure we're all on a long, unpredictable path when we are dealing with aging parents. I hope you have your violet for many years to come.

Linda -- I see her too! Actually, she looked pretty damn good. Like a woman aging, yes, but proudly.

Ann -- My mother is still healthy, but we all know where this is going, eventually. This story. Your story, which you've written about so poignantly. The future is uncertain and certain in disturbing ways. Dammit, Ann. Now I have to go make another pie!

Scanner -- You're talking height, right?

Consonants -- So nice to see you here! Thank you so much for reading.

Zul -- Chocolate, no bourbon! But I'll have try that.

Scarlett -- I like your way of thinking, and I'm generally positive too that the spirit transcends.

Deborah -- The most surprising thing to me about my Nannie's death is that we had grieved for ten years before she actually died. I thought that when she actually died, we wouldn't have grieving left to do. I was, of course, mistaken.

Greenheron -- I so want to remember my mother the way I saw her that morning, and the thought of having that replaced with frail and failing nudity is unthinkable, but you are right -- we adjust. Our bodies and our minds are amazing things.

Designanator -- Ha!! Across the cultural divide things look quite different.

Matt -- I'm sorry for your illness. I wish we didn't all become generic old ladies (not to ourselves, but to the world at large). Thanks for hanging in there until the end! Did you see the pie!?

Lea -- So far, I've been spared having to be a patient myself. We are all in this, or will be.

Fusun -- I know you're going through some tough times. Hang in there.

Buffy -- These days seeing myself naked is almost as much of a shock as seeing my mother naked, but I think it's important to accept ourselves and to be proud that we have bodies that work and do what we tell them to do. At least that's what I tell myself!
That's as much grace as I'll allow the process of dying; there is no cruelty in it, just homesickness, a weariness of travel.

That's a helluva graceful statement, and so gentle. I love the tone of this, wistful, musing, a bit sad, but mostly . . . light . . . not "light-hearted," just . . . a bit of light. Kind of like the richness of pecan pie, offset slightly by the sweetness of it.
Bell, this is really magnificent writing. So easy going, it seems, and yet touching on, reflecting on, feeling so much. And the penultimate paragraph is poetry.
Bell, this is really magnificent writing. So easy going, it seems, and yet touching on, reflecting on, feeling so much. And the penultimate paragraph is poetry.
My mom would always say that as we age, we revert to being like an infant. As a nurse, I have seen my fair share of saggy boobs and butts. The older men are the worst-they will walk down the hallway in the hospital with their butt cheeks flapping in the breeze! And yes, I have had to take care of my mom at times-she's 85 now-and have seen far more than I care to! R
Whenever I read your posts, I am struck by the graceful truth in your descriptions, like this one:

"Her beloved skin gradually slipping from her muscles, puddling on the bed, moving toward the ground, as if flesh understands the gravity of graves, and when it is tired it longs to return to the dirt."

I grew comfortable with seeing my own mother naked in her final year, washing and diapering and brushing her hair, as she had undoubtedly done so many times for me when I was too young to know it. You reminded me; I welcome missing her, the memory of her, and maybe that is why I have an appreciation for your grieving in advance, too--it's all ok, at this stage.

Thanks for sharing this particularly moving and thoughtful writing.
Great post. Thinking about this is almost enough to make me want to quit while I can still defy gravity . . . to some extent anyway. I believe I will end all my future posts with pie.
Interesting and personal perspective on aging, and the journey we all have ahead of us. Excellent writing, Bell. R
What a thought-provoking, gorgeously written post. Some of those thoughts make me sad, while others make me hopeful or at peace. I love the way you ended it. I have to confess, when I get upset, I just read a lot and eat cookies. You actually make something. Right on. Rated.
Wow, Bell, there is so much here. The image of the Old Mermaid will stick with me. And please, stop grieving in advance! The pie looks good.
I too grieve in advance. It takes the intensity out of the sadness later, the breathlessness is not so shallow. And I guess it also makes me more capable of managing the logistics of crisis. I never thought of it that way.
The nudity of illness and injury is an interesting thing. Our minds so wracked with pain, or overwhelmed by loss or illness, we cannot conceive of modesty. For once, we get to be in our natural state, instead of just the layers and layers of pretense and fortitude. This will keep me thinking today.
Your words on the process of dying: "there is no cruelty in it, just homesickness, a weariness of travel," struck me with their simple truth and beauty. And I love the wry humor of the pie. This is an excellent post.
This is so well written and very timely for me as well. Having recently visited my parents and helping my mother after a heart attack while on chemo, I have watched my mother's body lose all it's pert fat and meat and as you put it so well:

Her beloved skin gradually slipping from her muscles, puddling on the bed, moving toward the ground, as if flesh understands the gravity of graves, and when it is tired it longs to return to the dirt.

I hate seeing her like this, and I did look away in my mind because of the stark reality of it all. I can't mourn in advance as I am still holding out on hope.

I wonder how I will feel seeing a wrinkled reflection in the mirror. To age with grace is a fine thing. I hope I'm capable of it.
In an attempt to avoid discussing nakedness and mortality, I will say that I love the entire story, but the last two paragraphs are among the loveliest I've ever read. That's a compliment that I've reserved for the ending of Norman Maclean's "A River Runs Through It" and I use it here because your writing is true.
This is life and you capture it so well. I awfulize first, then grieve, then go make pizza. But pie sounds better.
well written. Hard to read, but so well done.
"the gravity of graves" -- a wonderfully poignant descriptor. BV, you mix straight-forward reality with touches of humor, pathos, and longing to weave a quiet meditation. One can't help but internalize the emotional response.

And thanks for yet another men's locker room euphemism. "Yeah, she can spill her heavy paint buckets all over me."

Yer fellow adoptee,
I know my friend Fusun commented on this, but it grabbed me for its perfect crafting: "Her beloved skin gradually slipping from her muscles, puddling on the bed, moving toward the ground, as if flesh understands the gravity of graves, and when it is tired it longs to return to the dirt" Absolutely stunning writing.

Lezlie
What a wonderful piece that I cought because it's over on Big S! So, yay!! I am not adopted, so when this happens to me, seeing my mother naked, I do a little bit of a freak out. I look at her wedding pictures (she was younger than I am now) and I think, wow. I hope the creams and serums and whatever else they invent over the next 30 years can preserve me!
Bell, I grieve in advance of things most everyday. Have I told you lately how much I love you *and* your writing? ~r
I think you're right about the "medical nudity" thing. And I've been doing a little "grieving in advance" lately myself, but I am no good at making pies. I'll take a slice of yours! Very well written reflection, bell.
Gabby -- It is strange, that at a certain age womanhood looses it's individual appearance and becomes a big umbrella. I am enjoying her (even though she doesn't like to cook!).

Lisa -- Aw, it's just a standard pecan pie recipe. I'm sure you have the same one! The one I usually make has no Karo syrup -- I'll send that one too you.

Owl -- What a lovely thing to say. I tried not to make things too heavy. I don't do heavy very well.

Pilgrim -- Thank you for saying so. I was hoping for that exact tone.

Libmomrn -- I can't imagine the things you've seen. How do you stay sane (and unafraid)?

Sophieh -- Thank you for reassuring me that, eventually, it will become okay. I know in dealing with other family deaths that the memories stop being painful and are welcome. In anticipating my the death of my parents, that doesn't seem possible this far in advance.

HellsBells -- ...and then I made a pie. Is the new "finis." I love it!

Eleanorr -- Thank you for stopping by. I now it's not exactly a fun piece to read so I appreciate you taking the time to read and reflect.

Alysa -- Well, I did eat the pie, so that counts as eating away the anxiety. It might be better to do cookies because then you aren't staring down the barrel of a whole pie.

Linda -- I'm trying to stop!! That mermaid was something my daughter did six or seven years ago -- when she was only fourteen, and it's one of my favorite drawings of hers.

Oryoki -- When I thought back on that day, at first my mother's nakedness seemed strange, and now it seems sublime. I hope one day I just don't give a shit, and drop the towel.

Dear Reader -- I don't believe there is cruelty in death, even if is seems very cruel on the face of it. I wish there was some place to point fingers, some fault to be found. We could always go back to the beginning and blame Eve.

Anne -- I so wish your hope is well-placed. I'm grieving and my mother is healthy! That's how I roll....wobbly and ineffectively.

Lucy -- That is such a very nice thing to say, the best compliment. No don't dwell on the sad. (I did make pie.)

Antoinette -- Awfulize is a great word. That's exactly what I do. Now I have a word for it. Pretty soon we'll see it as a condition in the DSM IV.

Julie -- Yeah, it is difficult to stomach. Aging isn't pretty, or it isn't toward the end.

Stim -- Go forth and create new tit slang! Paint cans.

Lezlie -- I'm glad you found the piece moving, and I always appreciate your comments.

Kate -- I'm fascinated by people who don't equate nakedness with vulnerability. Clothing does provide a layer of protection, as well as an avenue for creativity or subversion.

Moist -- That's hilarious! I am glad I wasn't capable of inheriting my Nannie's and my mother's potbelly. If you ask her, she'll say she's glad I won't get that too. I did get prematurely gray hair, which she doesn't have. I guess it all evens out.

Joan -- I had a feeling you'd understand.

Caroline -- I feel you. Hang in there.
I loved this piece almost as much as I'd love a piece of the pecan pie!!
So many parts of this I love, and this paragraph knocked me out:

Her beloved skin gradually slipping from her muscles, puddling on the bed, moving toward the ground, as if flesh understands the gravity of graves, and when it is tired it longs to return to the dirt. That's as much grace as I'll allow the process of dying; there is no cruelty in it, just homesickness, a weariness of travel.

Homesickness, puddling on the bed, gravity of graves, so much grace. Beautifully and artfully done. And the pie - thank goodness for the pie! r
This was an incredibly-clever way to craft a story to eventually discuss what was on your mind -- your friend's implants. The mark of a gifted writer.

: )

(R)
Rated...but it will be a while before I can read this.
This was just plain gorgeous.
I'm so continously impressed by your writing. Big congrats on gettin on Salon!!! You're awesome!
This is so beautiful and moving about a topic that most people usually ignore. I'm still not sure what the right level of modesty is with my 8-year-old daughter but I think it's always better to be comfortable with our close family members than to be distant.
Spectacular human reality and writing.

I wrote a comment on the Salon side, too. mazel tov!

(also, I have a theory, regarding approx. half of the Big Salon letters writers: they are FUCKING BATSHIT)
I just left you a comment on this piece over at the slough. There were a few commenters there whom I recognized, and some others I did not. Thank goodness. In another couple of decades, there's going to be a bunch of crabby bitter naked trolls sitting around in pee soaked undies mumbling to themselves.
Just a wonderful piece. I've just been through this with my own mother and back surgery. You expressed the bizarre unexpected feelings of it so well.r
Okay Belle, there's one of those Southern sayings about seeing your Mother naked. It escapes me now, but I'll be back when I remember.
Absolutely brilliant, Bell. So many things you said, I loved. I loved 'ignobly asexual' such an apt description and 'everyone pretending to be cavalier' when they're really mortified. Oh Yes! The the image of muscles puddling on the bed. Too many, too many. And then ending with the inconsolable pecan pie. Perfect, just perfect! And thank you. I went shopping a year ago with my mom. We were looking for a swimsuit for her -- lots of nudity, lots of merciless lighting, we were going on our first cruise ever. All the time I was dismayed, and depressed, disconsolate, as you say, trying to mix with equal measures of love and something that might transcend all this aggressive gravity.
2mchwrk -- I do the exact same thing! I start saying I'm one year older at least three months in advance!

Tom -- Thanks. Pie always helps. Unless it's mincemeat.

too -- it's nice to see you here! Thank you so much for reading. I'm glad some part of it hit you.

Seer -- Grief has a way of sticking around. I wonder why happiness doesn't have the same fortitude? That doesn't seem right, does it? (Thanks for the Big Salon support!)

Craz -- Thanks for that comment. I was afraid the musings aspect of this would be too narratively disconnected. I like your "creative" better!

mynameise -- I appreciate that. There are some places that are difficult to explore. I tried to inject a little humor. It doesn't always work.

O'Really -- Coming from you, that's a very high compliment.

Anna -- I'll take an "awesome"! It's rare to hear that, so when you do, it's precious.

Karin -- I agree. While seeing her naked gave me a shock -- it was also wonderful. The three of us womenfolk talking, laughing, sharing a moment. I love every inch of her. I like the idea of being open and free and unashamed -- I'm not there yet. One day I hope to be.
Greenheron -- That's hilarious, or sad. Or both. I'm glad there are people who take the time to make constructive comments.

Greg -- I call the Big Salon comments "torments" because they are truly strange. I do appreciate your support, and (of course!) your opinions on writing.

hugs, me -- Yes, it is bizarre. I'm just glad my experience was a good one (this time). I know there are tough days of medical nudity ahead. I'm not looking forward to those. Maybe I'll revisit this post, many years (I hope) down the road.

Fay -- Now you've tugged at my memory as well! I can't remember it either. If you think of it let me know.

Gail -- Well, merciless lighting never helps. Next time I go swimsuit shopping I'm putting vaseline on my lenses.

As to the Big Salon commenting issue -- I thank those of you who ventured 'cross the border in support! I was kind of surprised at the negativity to such a benign post. But there were a few negative comments that I thought had merit and which made me think.

In describing my mother's body, I wanted to be very real -- but I didn't mean to be unkind. If someone, reading the description, found that to be "brutal" rather than "real" then the tone of most of the rest of the piece could come across as jeering. I like to think an experienced editor (if I had one lying around!) would have thought of that. I don't think a writer should necessarily have to edit themselves to suit a particular audience, but a few choice words would have softened the blow, AND would have served to communicate my admiration and affection for my mother more fully.
I read this the other day and couldn't comment. I found it again and must say I LOVE this entire post so very much.
This is such an honest, true account of our experiences with nakedness and intimacy.
Nakedness is weird in our culture. When my husband was in the hospital recently, I watched strangers stuff catheters in his penis and comment casually about his anatomy. Such precious parts treated as no more than commonplace items.
Really lovely - for all the reasons. R, of course!

I loved the parts about dying - especially since two dear people in my life have left us in the past week.

I think preparing for tragedy is not a bad thing, there is some 'planning' (if you will - sorry for the choice of words) that is helpful.

In the end, however, I'm sure I'll be shocked as can be...
"In the hospital, her body was treated as a large baby doll, initially cooed over, and then, when the novelty wore off, tossed into a corner."

I loved this line. Rated.
"Her beloved skin gradually slipping from her muscles, puddling on the bed, moving toward the ground, as if flesh understands the gravity of graves, and when it is tired it longs to return to the dirt. That's as much grace as I'll allow the process of dying; there is no cruelty in it, just homesickness, a weariness of travel."

such fine, fine piece of writing
and then, that last line