Today I will see a total eclipse.
It is not the eclipse millions are counting down the hours to, though it is just as dramatic.
It is not the eclipse that will span the heart of our country, though it will span the hearts of many.
It is not the eclipse that will block out the source of warmth and light, though I may confess I find the darkness here to be darker.
It is the eclipse of death.
Today I will gaze upon the shell of my loved one. His warmth, calm presence, wise and thoughtful demeanor swallowed up in death. His expressive brows now placid and still. His deft fingers, always tinkering, always mending something, now still. Artificially holding his own hands, as though it is natural to lay this way.
I will see the shell of a person I have spent my entire life knowing as grandpa.
And during the same time as our viewing, outside the world as we know it will be swallowed up by darkness. It is fitting, I think, for the world to become dark when a life this meaningful is gone. A very different experience from last time.
And yet, in this darkness, I find the most extraordinary hope.
Because death, like the eclipse, is not the removal of a presence — just the momentary absence of our ability to sense it.
The sun is still shining, like it always has, even when the moon intercedes. For a small space in time, we will not feel it’s warmth. See it’s light. For a few moments, we will not be able to perceive it’s presence.
But that does not mean it is not still shining.
Like the sun, our loved ones are still living. Their life has moved to a spiritual life in a spiritual heaven. But it is just as real, they are just as alive, even though we have lost our ability to perceive them.
On this day, we will all feel a loss. A darkness. A shadow. For many, the experience will only be a novelty. Something to share with grandkids bouncing on their knees.
For our family, we will take a moment in the darkness and remember our loved one. Remember that living in the shadow of mourning is hard. It is cold. It is dark. At times, it is scary.
But it is momentary.
There will be an end to the eclipse. And with joy, we will look back upon our time in the darkness, and realize that our own sun, our loved one, was still shining brightly all along.