Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock lately—as in for the last month or so—you might have heard something about a total eclipse that was supposed to occur on Monday, August 21, 2017. Since the path of the eclipse crossed the United States, we had several million people flying in literally from all over the world to watch, at the most, approximately two and a half hours of gradual darkness turning back into gradual normal.
There were eclipse parties and schools that did not convene, little to no productivity at businesses, not to mention all day coverage on the Weather Channel (that’s where I heard the description “total totality” used . . . for real . . . the guy actually said “total totality” . . . I guess that’s opposed to partial totality . . .), and dire warnings about your eyeballs bursting into flames if you looked directly at the sun without special glasses. Said glasses seemed to be available in every shop and on every street corner, but for some unknown reason (probably genetic procrastination), I didn’t get mine until 7:00 PM on Sunday evening, which I tell myself is better than Monday morning.
Beginning about 11:30ish, my daughter and I would periodically mosey out the back door of the building, walk into the parking lot, and turn toward the sun. With glasses in place, we would tilt our heads back and move them around until we finally located the object of our fascination. At least that’s how it went after the first attempt. That time, as I prepared to step off the carport and onto the asphalt of the parking lot, I went ahead and put on my secret spymaster glasses—then promptly walked into the bumper of the hearse. Wearing those things was the equivalent of being totally blind. The only thing—and I mean the ONLY thing—you could see while wearing eclipse glasses was the eclipse. I guess that should have gone without saying.
Since I am constantly looking at life events and equating them to death (‘cause that’s kinda what I do), it occurred to me these spiffy glasses (that are only good for one eclipse since you have to throw them away after three years and the next one isn’t scheduled until 2024) were a perfect analogy for how we treat loss.
You see, too often when we lose someone we love—or much of anything else, for that matter—we focus so much on the loss we can’t see the blessings that are still ours to cherish. For example, when someone’s house burns their first response is always “I’m so glad everyone is all right; I can replace the stuff . . .” but when the initial tide of gratitude begins to ebb, and they look around at the charred remains of their life, it’s impossible not to be overwhelmed by how much is gone. When a parent loses a child with others still at home, it’s a devastating blow that will change them forever. There is no amount of blessing counting that will ever alter that. However, if that parent focuses solely on their loss to the exclusion of those who still remain, the children who survive will lose both a sibling and a parent.
Grief has a way of permeating every area of life, drawing every thought and activity to a fine point—a point that, with laser precision, directs our focus solely on what we have lost. As difficult as it may be, we can’t let it so drastically alter our vision that all we see is what is no longer there.