My grandmother asked me to stay with her until it's over, and I can only think of a few reasons she'd ask me: She knows I'll talk about anything and won't mince words; she knows I will do anything for her if I'm able; and she knows I can be a calming presence. It took me a very long time to become a calming presence; it's still a daily practice.
"You want to get a Do Not Resuscitate tattoo on your chest?" I asked, as one might say to a friend whose goal was to lose 50 pounds. You'd support it, but you knew it would never happen. "No, I have one," she said quietly, pulling her shirt aside modestly to show the skin over her heart muscle. I stared at it unbelieving.