Celebration Amid Personal Loss

Sep 8, 2017

At various times in my life, I have wondered if I might ever be guilty of "schadenfreude" -- finding pleasure in another person's discomfort. It would take a heartbreaking setback of my own to prove to myself that I would not.

Just minutes before leaving for what I expected would be my final opportunity to view a total solar eclipse, the back window of my car shattered into hundreds of pieces while I was loading supplies for the trip. Decades ago, I had been thwarted in my attempt to witness this incredible event -- once by weather, and the other by finances. My rear window wasn't the only thing shattered that morning.

Unable to be present in the zone of totality, I watched via television the crowds who had gathered from around the world. Slowly, the shadow made its way towards southern Illinois, the area where I would have been that afternoon.

Clouds were obscuring the view there during the crucial few minutes the sun was completely covered by the moon. But rather than satisfaction at seeing their own dream denied, I found myself desperately wishing that the clouds would part and give them what I could not have.

And, in the few final precious moments of totality, nature cooperated to provide thousands with a never-to-be-forgotten memory of a lifetime. As cheers rose from the crowd, I cheered the gift that had been given to them.

I'm Jim Kline, and that is my perspective.