I admit being disappointed over the Solar Eclipse yesterday. Why wouldn’t I with the route of the thing called, the “Path of Totality”? How can anything short of an apocalypse be grander?
For weeks news coverage of the coming event went over every aspect of it including footage of a newscast from 1979 predicting the next eclipse in 2017. I understood that yesterday’s event was going to happen over my house at approximately 11:34 am. I knew that it wasn’t considered a total eclipse but rather a “partial eclipse” because the moon would cover only 91.2% of the sun. What I didn’t think about until that morning was how were we supposed to witness the thing without protective eyewear? That’s where cereal boxes came into play.
Yesterday also happened to be the last day of my son’s summer vacation, so we planned to watch the great eclipse together. I followed Good Morning America’s instructions on how to make a solar eclipse contraption out of cereal boxes, tinfoil, and a pin-sized hole. Nate and I set up camp in our backyard on our trampoline.
A few minutes before the Path of Totality, the world got darker, like just after dusk when the oranges and yellows of the setting sun have burned away. It got colder dropping from 81 degrees down to 71. It reminded me of cloud cover but for a longer period. I still heard traffic. I still heard the hammering from a construction site nearby. However, I don’t recall the humming of busy birds, not until the eclipse was over.
Nate and I sat on the trampoline, taking pictures, staring hard into the abyss of a Cocoa Pebbles cereal box. My neighbor took pity on us and over the top of our shared fence, handed us two pairs of special solar-seeing glasses. He was right; it was better seeing the eclipse through those lenses than the pinhole version at the bottom of some cardboard. Even though the experience was great, I thought it would’ve been grander.
Today my youngest, my baby, started his first day of High School. He’s a sophomore, now. I had known this day was coming. I was prepared, buying him school clothes and restocking note pads and pens. My husband and I even measured his height on the pantry door, as is the night-before-school-starts family tradition. I thought I knew what to expect.
This morning I drove Nate to school. We waded in traffic behind the tsunami of teenagers and impatient parents each vying to enter the parking lot, the line of which stretched almost a city block. We were running out of time until the school bell rang. I ended up making a U-turn at a U-turn restricted intersection and dropped him off near the student parking lot.
He said goodbye and hurried out of the car. I watched the back of him as he trudged down the hill and was engulfed by a stream of students. I watched him move away from me.
I took my dog on a long walk and returned home to a silent house. It felt cold and dark in my entryway; my daughter was at work, as was my husband, and of course, Nate was gone. I returned to a space void of sound except for the hum of the refrigerator.
Yesterday was still summer, and the spectacular event of the moon going over the sun was televised from coast to coast. Today there was no splendor, no momentous scene flashing across the television screen, but today’s event was much, much bigger than I knew. Today I realized how small my world is and how short the amount of time I have left with the ones I love the most.