I didn't attend my father's funeral, and I never regretted it. I sat by his side in his final days, he, too weak, too close to dying to want to talk, I, waiting with him, silently, or telling him how much I loved him, not trying to imagine a world without him.
I wrote his obituary, and read it to him the night before he died so he knew how precious he was. That was our farewell. Two days later, I flew to South Africa to complete the work in a village school he had sponsored. "You go!" He said, believing I would be away when he died. I went, and my Xhosa friends sang for him, and I went to this beach and cast into the ocean a wreath I made with vines and flowers from the rain forest.
I then scratched his name, along with my mother's, in a hidden place in the rocks nearby.
This thanksgiving for my father's life was a special and deeply meaningful ritual. Far away from home, I grieved for my father and there, in my heart, which was pounding with the ocean, I laid him to rest.