The coming eclipse

(Photo of moon by Don Andrews/FreeRangeStock.com)

The conversation on NPR on Tuesday evening turned to the eclipse expected to occur Aug. 21, with the guest, an eye doctor, talking about the importance of protecting your eyes.

"Mommy," my daughter asked from the back seat of the car, "will I ever see an eclipse?"

"I don't know," I told her. I explained that an eclipse is coming in the next few weeks, but that where we live, it won't be a total eclipse, and because she'll be in school at the time, I also didn't know if the school would have a viewer for the children to use.

The first time I ever heard of an eclipse, I was in third grade. The school I attended had some viewers for students, but not enough for everyone. So as the eclipse occurred, only a few students got to go.

I remember feeling very frightened, not of the eclipse itself, but of the possibility of going blind. I envisioned the temptation to look up without the viewer being too great for me to resist, so when the teacher asked who would like to go look, I didn't raise my hand.

If only I fully understood at the time how rare they are.

However, the fear I felt as a third-grader that I'd burn my corneas never really went away completely. When my daughter asked if she'd ever see an eclipse, I was torn between hoping her school will have viewers for students and hoping they'd keep them all indoors with the window shades drawn so that none of them would be tempted to look at the eclipse without them.

To this day, the only eclipses I've ever seen were on YouTube or other online platforms. Perhaps that'll be good enough for my daughter and her first-grade class, too.

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