Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Body

I've been waiting to do this episode for a while because it's so beautifully done. Kali and I planned how we were going to work it a few weeks in advance even because we wanted to do it well and not just get it done. Never did I imagine that, a week or so prior to this episode's write up, I'd find my mother passed away in her bed. When it happened a piece of me wanted to watch The Body immediately and another piece never wanted to watch it again. I ended up telling my sister, Samantha, this and she felt the same but we both ultimately decided to watch the episode once we returned home around 4-5 hours after finding our mother.

Obviously, my write up is going to be very different than how I originally intended it to be. As much as I want to forget everything I saw, I also want to make sure I remember every single second of it. Because of this, my write up will be how my own reactions paralleled to the character's within the episode. Be warned: I'm not going to censor myself as I'm writing this to preserve my memory and using this outlet as my pensieve, if you will. If you don't wish to hear about the details involving first finding my mother, skip past my write up paralleling Buffy as I'll try to keep most of those details tied with her (for obvious reasons.) If by chance I do bring up these types of details elsewhere, I will envelope the section with asterisks.

And now, without further ado, here is my review of The Body written from the experience of recently losing my mother.


On Saturday morning, May 14th, I was preparing for my graduation ceremony. I did not want to walk but I knew my mom wanted to watch me and, to be honest, I really wanted her to watch and tell me how proud she was of me. I got ready by putting on my cap and gown and leaving the house to drive and pick up my mother, since she is unable to drive because of her disabilities, with my sister. Before leaving the house, we called once and my mom didn't answer; I left a message believing she was sleeping since it was 7am. On the way to her place, which is a 15 minute drive, I called probably around 12-15 more times. My sister and I even joked about what we'd do if we found her dead. (Back story: this joking sounds bad, but our mother has literally been sick our entire lives and there have been many, many times we have been told that a) she'd pass away or b) we'd have to make the decision to stop treatment. Growing up like this made us turn to humor in the moments when we had no idea what was going on and had no way of immediately making sure she was okay.)

At 7:35am we arrived at my mom's. We parked and started walking to the house. We didn't have keys on us and our mom was OCD about locking doors. Sam was ahead of me and, next thing I know, I see her open the front door. I get to the porch and hear my sister yell my name. I walk into the apartment, turn the corner to enter my mom's room, and see my sister shaking her and shouting her name. She throws her phone and I immediately pick it up to dial 911. I tell Sam to check for a pulse and when she said she forgot how she left the room and I reached for her arm only to discover how cold it was. 911 answered and I said "I think my mom's dead." They asked the normal informational questions and then asked if I could get my mom to lie flat. I said no because her arm had fallen behind the night stand and my mom was a very heavy woman (she'd kill me if I said how much she weighed; I actually thought that as I told the 911 person how much she approximately weighed to get my point across.) They asked if I could move her to the floor and I said it was a 2 foot fall from her bed.

They then told me how to do chest compressions. I did it once and then started pacing because I knew it was pointless and she felt so...inhuman. It felt wrong to touch her at all. They asked if I was still doing compressions which reminded me I had stopped looking at my mom. I went back to her and looked at her face. I noticed her eyes were half-open and her bottom lip was blue with her chin light shades of purple. I told the 911 operator about her lips and she asked if I thought there was nothing that could be done to save her. I remember getting a bit hysterical and telling her that I didn't know and to still send someone because I wasn't a doctor. Six minutes later, at 7:41, the paramedics entered the house. They walked to her room but didn't even touch her before walking out and closing the door behind them. I stood in front of them and said they needed to put her back because we were going to be late to my graduation. They told me that they're sorry but they couldn't and they guided me to our couch.

Comparing this to Buffy's perspective it is creepy how similar they were. I remember, while my sister was shaking my mom and I grabbed her phone, I looked at my mom's face and could have sworn I saw her wake. My mom actually passes out quite a bit and it was always the same deal. We'd find her, eyes half-open and rolled back, leaning to the left and falling over her nightstand. We'd shake her and yell mom until she opened her eyes and told us that she wasn't sleeping. She was a stubborn woman and she'd refuse to believe that she was sleeping or had passed out. Anyways, this situation reminded me of when the medics came and Buffy had the daydream about coming to the rescue and saving her mom's life. I wanted so badly for this to be the case, even though I knew the moment we walked into her place that she was gone.

One thing I'm very envious of Buffy for is the fact that she threw up. I cannot even begin to explain to those of you who haven't gone through this situation of finding someone's body how sick it makes you feel. My grandfather passed away in 2005 and I wasn't there while he passed and I don't remember feeling this way so I don't know whether it happens upon finding a body or losing someone you truly love. For right now, I'm just going to refer to it as the sickness you feel upon finding the body.

I actually kept thinking in my head "this was so easy for Buffy, why can't I just be sick!" My hand that touched her would not stop feeling ice cold as her body had and everything hurt all at once. I felt so much like I had to throw up but couldn't and it irritated the hell out of me. Buffy was lucky in that regard.

Another parallel I made was with the focusing on insignificant things as she did with the numbers on the phone. When the coroner came a 8:35 (my mom's legal time of death) she had to do paperwork. At one point Samantha, who is the oldest, had left to answer a call (we were calling everybody all at once.) When she had left, the coroner asked if I was over 18 so I could sign off identifying that the body was my mother's. Or at least I think that's what I signed, here's where the parallel comes into play. She handed me the paper and a pen. I looked at the sheet and three words seemed to lift off the page: Sheri (my mom's name), daughter, and deceased. I read those words and picked up the pen to sign my name.

I didn't really have any connections with Giles actions towards the news since it's sort of difficult to be Buffy (aka the one who lost someone important) and Giles (aka the one who comes to the rescue) at the same time. I've had many different people fall in and out of Giles' role for me though. The main person though has been my sister. Unfortunately for her, as the older one, she's felt the need to sort of shelter the blow for me, I guess. Death comes with many stupid responsibilities such as calling social security to report the death, calling doctors, etc. Luckily for me, I was really only performing these tasks if I wanted to help to make me feel better but I wasn't expected to do them as much as I believe she was.

Her reaction would be really difficult for me to follow since she played the part of the best friend having no idea how the hell to help Buffy. But clothes were a big deal as they were with Willow. I kept making a really big deal out of what I wore whether it was a shirt my mom loved or even remembering to wear clean socks. It's really amazing how little you care about cleaning and everything during times like these and, in fact, how much they make things worse. At least for me, when I set out to pick up my clothes, papers, etc. I felt worse because it made it seem as if real life were continuing. Living within a messy house is temporary and made this whole experience feel the same way. It was comforting but I kept needing to remind myself to wear clean clothes like my mom would have made me do.

As Kali can tell you, I went through a little Xander period where I wanted to hit and yell at things/people. I didn't do anything because I realized that I'm annoyingly good natured and Hermione-esque when it comes to doing things you shouldn't. It made me angry but I'm glad I didn't actually punch my fist through a wall because I would have hurt myself very badly.

This phase for me has come more and more as the days go by. As I sit here writing this, it is the month anniversary of my mom's passing. I'd say this week especially it's really been confusing for me how this happened and why my mom will never get to drink fruit punch again (even though she never would have had any fruit punch herself.) I've been upset and wondering why my mom passed away instead of other random people that annoy me or that I don't even really know. Why is it okay that other people have their parents to help them while I don't.

It's hurt a lot and I'm not sure when this phase of Anya-esque behavior will go away. My guess is it will stay around for quite a while...

Tara's reaction has really hit close to home. I remember watching this episode a lot before and I always thought I understood her reaction and what she told Buffy about wanting to do/think things that may be strange but I don't think I ever really understood it until now. A few hours after getting home from my mom's that day, I called her phone thinking there was a chance she'd actually answer and left a message for her. I've done/thought many strange things that are comforting to me even though they aren't logical at all. Like a song coming on the radio meaning that she's watching me or seeing a relection of a rainbow (she loved rainbows) meaning that I was doing the right thing.

It's been very strange because I'm naturally ruled greatly by logic and most of what I'm doing contains no logic at all. However, my current belief is that if it makes me feel better and there's no way to logically prove that it I'm incorrect than I can allow myself to believe that I'm right. Honestly, none of it really matters anyways. Tons of people, especially if they're religious, believe a lot of things about death, afterlife, etc. and it really makes no sense to me. The only time you can know if you're right or wrong about your beliefs is after you pass away when it doesn't even matter anymore. I don't care if my mom is actually watching me; I'm fine believing a lie.

My sister has been acting more like Dawn than I have. Even though we both went to visit my mom and look at her body after she passed before she was cremated my sister was much more demanding about doing this than I was. It was very weird seeing her and there were times when I chose not to; for example, when they took my mom out of her room in a bag I hid in my room while Sam watched them carry her out. I think I behaved more as Buffy did where she saw her mom's body but didn't really go out of her way to see it and that it just sort of happened. Every chance Sam got to see my mom she took and, whenever it wasn't offered, she asked while I sort of just went along for the ride with her but would have been okay only seeing her once more at the funneral home before she was cremated instead of the 2-3 times my sisterhad us go in to see her. Seeing the body helps a bit make this feel more real but it also is a very, very hard image to shake and now I feel as if most of my memories are with a dead body rather than my mom while she was alive. My memories actually mirror the dinner scene at the begining of this episode pretty well. I'll think of an event or something with my mom that was good and it'll be interrupted by images of her as I found her that morning or saw her at the funeral home.

So there you go guys. I hope you enjoyed this weird post about The Body. Hopefully I can get back to not getting word vomit every five minutes about my mom soon. But until then, I suggest making a drinking game out of it and take a shot everytime I say something about her. It should get you nice and drunk.