The Viewing

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Copyright © Clover Journesy 2021

It’s here, the second most dreaded and depressing day. All morning, I debated with myself, starting with whether I should get out of bed. “No, just turn over and let the day escape and don’t partake in it.” I closed my eyes, desperately trying to fall back asleep. Now when asked, “why I did not come." I will have an honest alibi. "I did not come because, my sleep held me hostage and would not let me wake up.” My mind is flooded with task; like what am I wearing? “I, don’t need to think about it, because I am not going.”

Yes, you are going and not because you want to, but it is expected of you to be there to support the family.”

“It’s OK, that I am speaking out loud to myself. It does not mean I have lost it entirely.” I snuggled deeper into my bed feeling a sense of secure comfort as I laid there in an attempt at denying the reality that has plagued me this past week. “Please let this day pass and catapult me into next week, where I am back at work inundated with projects and leaving little time to think of my personal issues.”

One tear trickled down the side of my face and onto the pillow. I drifted, as I fell into a Rem sleep. A husky male voice joyfully saying. “Is everybody happy.” My eyes opened, and for a moment happiness filled the room and then realizing it was only a dream, brought back the sadness.

“Alright, enough of this. Get up, take your shower and get dressed.” Slowly, I moved my legs to the edge and over to the side of my bed, my feet hitting the floor. I sat there, staring outside. I noticed the bright sunshine’s colors of translucent blue, yellow and white, beams separated and reflected through the crystal glass etched in the window's top of my room. A rather large robin sat on the ledge peering in and then looking away and finally flying away. I imagined he came to wish me a good morning. Everything is the way it should be and not to worry.

I turned on the shower, removed my nightgown, stepped into the spray raining down, allowing my tears to mix, becoming one with the rhythmic trio. The pounding of my heart, the shower and my tears, and like a James Brown Revue - I fell on my knees crying, “Please, please, please, don’t go.

I arrived at my parents’ house and just in time.

My brothers are walking with mom, my son, and daughter with their respective families were making their way to the cars. I waved, but did not exit the car. I sat there waiting for the cars in front to proceed and then pulling in behind them. There is a lump in my throat making it difficult to swallow, my stomach is jumping and turning with inescapable gas building with nowhere to go and my heart—splintered stabbing my chest.

In front of the mortuary, people are standing outside, stopping their conversations and taking notice of our family arriving. I drove around to the side, finding a parking space on the side, near the end of the block. One of my cousins came to meet me. She had tears in her eyes. I told her it’s OK.

“How are you?”

“You know, you lost your mom, well, that’s how I’m doing.”

“I’m going to miss your dad so much. He was such a good and sweet uncle, and his barbecue, we’ll not have that ever again.” She gave me a hug, and we continued walking toward the entrance. Her comments brought a lighter mood to the heaviness I was feeling and thankful for her sentiments. I reflected on my dad’s smiling face and beautiful personality. Everyone who had the pleasure of knowing my dad liked and loved him genuinely. I will not cry and will be strong for mom, she has lost the love of her life and she’ll need us more now than ever.

There was never a time once mom and dad were retired, that these two were not together. We said they were joined at the hip literally. Now I’m worried what is my mom going to do now, what am I going to do now? My dad was my champion, my confidant, and my friend. Before my dad had become ill with leukemia, mom

and my relationship became strained and to the point she would not let me in the house when I came to visit. I don’t know what I had done. I had felt for a long time that she preferred my brothers over me. The only girl of five brothers and not to have my mom be my confidant and friend was hurtful. I will admit some of my choices of men in my life were not the best. However, she did not help or talk to me about my choices and my dad accepted, whoever I professed to love and therefore; I was left alone to figure it out.

During the time of my dad’s illness, it would have been a boost to his spirit and demeanor to see his wife and daughter getting along. It would have also been a chance for me and mom’s relationship to heal, but I went alone to the nursing home to see my dad, and watch tv. He surprised me, one evening when he asked, “Is Ice Tea on?”

“Ice Tea? You like Ice Tea?”

“Yea, the detective show.”

“Oh, you want to watch Law and Order.”

I checked, and it had just come on, so this was good. My dad got to watch his favorite program. Not much longer after this night, my dad was rushed to the hospital. Again, I visited my dad alone and this night he had been incubated and I could not enter his room without wearing protective clothing. Now I know, since COV-19, it is called PPE. He wanted to tell me something, but each time he went to talk, the bell would go off and I told him, “Dad, don’t talk. I love you and you are going to be OK. Yet, he really wants to say something. The bell went off again and this time the nurse came in and asked me to leave.

I told her, “I don’t want to leave.”

“Then you will have to stand in the hallway. Your dad needs his rest.”

I, touched my dad’s shoulder and said, “I’ll be right outside the door, I love you.” As I stood looking in his room, my heart hurting because I knew from what my brother had told me my dad was not doing good and the infection was running rapidly throughout his body. I wanted to snatch the tube from his throat so he could speak and say what he wanted. To this day I hold in my heart that he loved me and wanted mom and me to love and take care of each other.

The nurse went into his room and told me he had fallen asleep. I left feeling uneasy, as if I could never see or speak with my dad again. I went to work the next day and when I got home and after setting my things down on the kitchen table; the phone rang. It was my brother telling me, “Dad had passed.” My breath left my body and all I could do was cry. Once I calmed down, the phone was on the table and my brother had hung up.

I sat at the kitchen table trying to grasp the fact that my dad was gone, my dad is dead. The phone rang. It was my mother. “Hello, did your brother call you.”

“Yes, he called. How are you?”

“I feel terrible, and we should squash our anger at each other.”

“Mom, I was never angry with you–you were angry with me and I don’t understand why.”

“Well, I just want us to stop being angry.” I did not get an answer that I needed, but I would not push the issue. “I love you mom and anything you need let me know.” My voice quivering, “I have to go now, I’ll call you later.”

“Will you come by tomorrow?”

“Yes, I will around 1:00.”

“OK, goodnight.”

“It’s not a goodnight, but I will see you tomorrow.” I held the phone for a minute staring at it before I put it back in the cradle, thinking to myself, why couldn’t she had made this call before dad got sick and passed. Instead, the last interaction he witnessed between me and mom was a profanity laden, contentious one. In order for my dad to talk to me, he had to come out on the porch, and it hurt him for things to have digressed to that point. He passed, knowing mom and my relationship was still on the outs. However, I must put all that aside and be here for mom.

My cousin and I entered the mortuary. Mom was sitting quietly with my brothers. I walked over, acknowledging everyone. We gave hugs and comforted one another as well as mom. The proprietor said they were ready for us to come back to the viewing room. It was just a few steps, but it seemed I had walked for miles. The room was well -lit with traditional organ music playing low through the mounted speakers. There were two rows of 6 chairs positioned facing the casket where my dad’s body laid. I did not want to look in the direction. How could my dad be laying there still, no more life, laughter, absent of the warmth he was known for and the sparkle in his eyes when he smiled? Surely this is a bad dream, a nightmare and one that I will wake up from and dad at the center saying, “Is Everybody Happy?”

The director’s assistants stood at each end of the row, ushering our approach to the casket. I was in the first row sitting next to mom. She did not want to see my dad, the man who she knew was filled with life, adventure and the father to her last three children he helped raise, love, and teach. The man who built a solid and happy home environment. Shaking her head kept saying, “No, no, no, that is not my husband, it is not him, I don’t know what that thing is.”

The kids all looked at each other, baffled. It was not until later that evening we came to understand what mom meant and it was heartbreaking. She wanted the man alive, the one who she knew and loved for over fifty years.

My sister-in- law whispered something in mom’s ear, and she slowly approached the casket with her and stood with me, her arm around my waist, looking at the man who was no more. Life ends, I thought, and it happens to everyone. All those living today, will taste the end of this mortal life.

Dad, I will never forget the love, care, and support you showed your children. My brothers you never showed any difference between us. You loved them as you did the children that came from your loins. A man of God, I honor you this day and always. You loved and supported our mother. We saw you two grow into best friends and no one could or would dare challenge the deep seated love you carried for one another as well the family.

In all my attempts to replicate what you and mom had, I failed. I have no doubt that the example you showed I possess, how could I not, but my choices were flawed. Dad your qualities are what I wish all men embodied. The good, compassionate, loving, and easy going approach , to life. A person who loves life and God. RIP, you are forever missed and loved. Your daughter .

13 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All