With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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Sallie Tisdale’s most recent book is Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Someone has died. Someone I loved the way I love my own hands. And I am alive in the bright, fading day, flying above the earth and sea.
According to surveys, about half of American households have at least one person on a diet at any given time. Dieting is normal — more normal than eating what you want to eat. How many of us now live on various versions of Lean Cuisine during the workweek and pay premium for a plate of swordfish and greens on Saturday night?
We all die, and most of us grow old, and for a certain inevitable number of us age brings its sisters: dependence, frailty, and a gut-wrenching perishability. Age is the last place and time most of us will inhabit, and the fact that age seems so foreign to most of us, as though cleft from the known world, is one of life’s sly tricks.
Every little odd ache, cramp, tension; each sore throat, swollen gland, headache; a sudden pain when you reach for something on a shelf, a morning lethargy, an unexpected reluctance: all these whisper cancer.
I like dead bodies: at no other time am I so aware of my own animation. This isn’t because I am lucky and this poor fool is not, but because here before me is the mute, incontrovertible evidence. Some force drives these shells, and it drives me still. I am a witness, an attestant, to a foresworn truth.
She could have been cast as a nun in an old Bing Crosby movie, the one who trailed the heroine and only came in on the chorus. Charlotte was a person who seemed to have no childhood, whom you could not imagine as younger than she was at the moment you met her.