Today is the wake of a long time family friend. I am not going. I will be at the funeral tomorrow... I may even attend the prayer service at the funeral home before the processional to the church. But,today, I am not going to the wake.
My mother points out that wakes/visitations/shivas whatever you call them in your family/social group are a part of life. She is absolutely correct. However, must we attend the wake of every individual we know and/or love? Occasionally, I think that not seeing the dead body might be a good thing. Some people need a visual for closure. I don't always need that. I got thru a major death without that visual. It was hard but I wasn't given the choice, the choice was made for me. I had to trust that people were telling the truth and yes, that person was dead. In this case I have the choice, yet, I am making the choice that some people will determine to be socially inexplicable.
I am not going to the wake because I am selfish. I don't want the last image, the one that will always be the first recalled in most situations, to be the image of her in the casket. I don't want to see the impact that cancer took on her. I have been informed of it during her last battle... I don't want the visual to go with the images that are already in my imagination. Selfish, yes, it is. I want to remember the lively, funny, caring, strong, beautiful woman the way that she was... alive. I already have regrets that any children I may be blessed with won't know her.
In this circumstance, I have decided, that I am okay with being selfish. I made sure that my mother didn't feel that she needed me to be there. I will see many people tomorrow that are no longer a daily fixture in my life... not many are regulars in my life anymore and that is something that I need to work on. But... today, I am only thinking about myself. This decision has been heartwrenching and that still is okay because I don't want to ever be easily selfish.