I hadn’t planned to go to my father’s viewing tonight, but when my plans for a private memorial with my father’s long time health aid didn’t work out, I decided, on the spur of the moment, to drive the two hours to where my family was gathered. In the end, though, I couldn’t force myself go to the viewing. I’d said my goodbyes during the hours before he died and then during the hours afterward while we waited for all the end of life tasks to be completed (pronouncing him dead, arranging for the mortuary to come get him, etc.), and anything else would seem like voyeurism.
When everyone took off for the mortuary, I headed down to the beach, watched the eternal tides washing up on shore, watched the sun set. As I stood there, I could feel the cycle of life, could see that all things end, not just the day, and so after all, it turned out to be the perfect viewing.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.