I just experienced a totality I will never, ever see again in my lifetime. I knew it was coming for a long time now, and as excited as I was to finally see it, I was more emotional than I thought I would be. I stared right at it, as protected as one can be to avoid long-term effects. I was expecting to cry; I was surprised by the rush of sadness, joy, fear and nostalgia hitting me, all at once.
Maybe this is what happens when you drop your only child off to college. First year for her. First and only time for us as a family. Every emotion under the sun. Totality.
With an only, all of our firsts are also our lasts. That's great for getting things over with, or for quickly advancing to a next phase or life event, but it also sucks knowing that this is it. Soak it in now 'cause it ain't ever going to happen again. People keep calling us empty nesters. The heck with the nest, it's my heart that feels cleaned out.
Fitting that drop-off was in Nashville, a city on the trajectory of totality for the Great American Eclipse, on the weekend before the Monday (August 21, 2017) when the country would be staring up at the sky. People off campus were scurrying about, selling commemorative t-shirts and viewing glasses on every corner. Digital highway signs warned drivers to prepare for heavy traffic. Hotels were booked solid. Yet, on campus - our daughter's new home for the next four years - the community (about 1500 new students, plus their families) was focused on everything but the eclipse. The mayhem of moving boxes and bags from Target, and getting to meetings on time when you didn't know where you were going overshadowed what the rest of the city was preparing for. But once the dust settled and parents kissed children goodbye (this was Sunday, this was hard), the campus re-energized students with plans for the viewing party the next day.
What an amazing blessing to see our girl starting college AND to be experiencing the sight of a lifetime, all over the course of 72 hours! Damn right this is totality. She will remember this for the rest of her life. So will we. As I try very hard to let go of the weepy side of things and focus on the splendor of what just happened, I'm excited for the future. For our daughter. For our family.
The next total solar eclipse is in 2024. Seven years from now. I'm not sure where I'll be, but I do know that I'll be looking up.