Last night, there was a total eclipse of the moon.
Two things come to mind every time I hear “total eclipse.” First, the 1984 Bonnie Tyler song, Total Eclipse of the Heart. Go ahead, click the YouTube link, I dare you. If you’re too young to remember, it is an astonishing example of what music videos were like in the 80s. If you’re my age and you didn’t start singing this song in your head when you read the title, shame!
The second is a poem I wrote for my children, while I was still married to their father.
I don’t keep track of celestial events anymore,
The transits of the Space Station are no longer bookmarked on my browser.
Sometimes, I miss an eclipse altogether, and the last time
I watched it from the window; it seemed a lot of trouble
To turn off the lights to acclimatize my eyes.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had company
Outside on the deck chairs, under quilts with hot chocolate,
While the Perseids did their flashing dance
In the August night skies. The last few times I tried
To get anyone out, you came, condescending, for a few minutes,
Or feeling sleep was more important, did not come at all.
Don’t you remember the laughing amazement
Of seeing two bright lights approach each other, knowing
That people rode the Shuttle as it docked, 200 miles above us,
With the only inhabited place not on the surface of the Earth?
Do you not realize you may never again in your lifetime
See the closest approach of Mars and a lunar eclipse on the very same night?
I am so proud of you both. Grown now, slowly changing yet all at once
A brief flash before totality, then gradually, inexorably,
The adult emerges. And you move on, on your path, oblivious
To the old woman, alone and awake, watching the transit
Of celestial bodies.
Sometimes I used to joke that the reason I had children was so that I had someone to ride roller coasters with me; I suppose I could have also said that it was to watch the wonder of night skies.
I don’t remember their father coming out with us, although perhaps he did, when they were so small they would fall asleep and need to be carried inside to their beds. My memories, and theirs, are snuggling under blankets on rugs spread on the dock in the darkness of a camp on Cowichan Lake, sometimes with their aunt and cousins, or on the back deck of the house they grew up in. Their father would gently mock my enthusiasm, out of their hearing when they were small, then openly, looking for agreement, when they were teens.
Perhaps he only stayed for the children, or stayed because I’d convinced him we had the perfect life, the perfect future planned. But the children grew up. I still loved roller coasters and the night skies, and he was tired of being dragged out of his cozy bed, out of his comfort zone, for adventures.
I started writing this blog during my total eclipse, three years ago, when he left. I’m sure Bonnie Tyler’s song was on my breakup playlist, as I set out on the year of travel precipitated by the rending of the fabric of my life.
Last night, Scott nudged me. “Want to get up and watch the eclipse?”
Here in the tropics the entire circle of the moon is visible, even when it is not full. So it was with this near totality. We walked down to the shore and watched from the sea window as a sliver of light appeared at the edge of the orb.
I was giddy, and Scott laughed with me. I’ve found someone who not only tolerates my quirks and enthusiasms, but revels in them and often shares them. He doesn’t just join my adventures, he often thinks up new ones for us.
The eclipse was long, and dark, but now it’s truly over.