Need some gradient mesh/Illustrator opacity mask help

So here’s a little background. I’ve got an Illustrator assignment due that involves using gradient mesh, using a piece of our own ‘fine art’ as part of the project and incorporating gradient mesh elements into it. I decided to use part of a charcoal collage I did last semester, a hand holding a pear (don’t ask).

Anyway, the theme I’m going with for this poster design is kind of blending traditional and digital art. The charcoal hand is going to be holding a now-gradient-mesh pear. Just doing the pear alone seems like kind of a cheap way out, so I want to also gradient mesh part of the hand as well, kind of blending down into the charcoal drawing. What’s the best way to pull off that effect? Can I apply an opacity mask to a gradient mesh, so the mesh parts will fade into the charcoal drawing?