Making The Most of The Dash

Last night, my son found a box of old photos and a poem I shared with my family in honor of the death of my grandmother.  She passed away 5 years ago.  It brought back all kinds of memories from Ian as a baby, and Kirk and me prior to his birth.  I smiled through tears as I looked over all of the treasures and family photos.

That poem was The Dash by Linda Ellis and I am going to share it today.  But first a few thoughts on my grandma.  Over the last year, I have been thinking a lot about her.  You see, her husband also died at a young age and unexpectedly, similar to my husband’s death.  I never knew her husband (my grandpa) but loved hearing stories about him and what a great man he was.

I wish I could ask Grandma questions about how she dealt with being a widow, what advice she’d give me, and how it was moving forward.  Growing up, we heard things from her and had brief discussions but it never totally registered what she went through.  I have a new appreciation for this woman who was very strong, sometimes to the point of being rude.  She made the most of her dash and taught us how to do the same.

So for those of us touched by a loved one’s death, I hope this poem will be encouraging.  It has been for me and I am so glad that I have found it again.  I hope that we can remember what is important in life and be thankful for that time we did have with our loved ones.  I also hope that we make sure to cherish those who are still in our lives.

The Dash — Linda Ellis —-

“I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.  He referred to the dates on her tombstone, from the beginning… to the end.

“He noted that first came the date of her birth. And spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

“For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth.  And, now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

“For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house…the cash.  What matters is how we live and love, and how we spend our dash.

“So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change?  For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged. 

“If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel. 

“And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before. 

“If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile… remembering that this special dash might only last a while. 

“So when your eulogy is being read with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?” 

Let’s make the most of our dash, treat each other with kindness, and always love.

The Blessing of The Dash

Clouds_POD_8-15-14During the holiday season, several of my loved ones have lost those who are very dear to them.  Five of my friends have had family members or friends pass away.  And a few famous people who meant a lot to me have also died.  So this holiday time is very bittersweet.

I have been sad and it has had me thinking about the dash.  In all of our lives there is a date we are born, then the dash, and the year that we die. None of us knows when that second date will be, but we can make the most of our dash.

We can make the most of our life, enjoy the time with our friends and family, try new things, and take risks.  And, we can be blessings to one another, spend time with those we love, tell them that we love them, and live our lives to the fullest.  We can exercise, eat those foods we enjoy, walk in the rain, sing to a favorite song, hug each other, and so much more.

As my friend Gordon D. used to say, never be a grave hugger.  I learned this in my early twenties and it has stuck with me all of these years. His point was to never leave something unsaid, and to be sure to resolve arguments and problems as much as you possibly can.  He didn’t want his friends to have regrets when someone they love passes away.

I try to live this way and make the most of my time with friends and family.  But, I cannot do everything and sometimes have to say no.  And, I am not the best at keeping in touch with people or finishing every task.  For example, I have finished writing the Christmas cards but still have to buy stamps and mail them.  Tomorrow, we will do that.

May we find a way to enjoy our dash and have a great life.  May we help those we love to also have a great life.  May we love, forgive, and actually be involved in life.  We are not spectators after all, but active participants.

May we not wish our lives away or wish we could go back.  May we savor each moment and keep going.  May we help those grieving and realize they need time and lots of love.  There is no right way to grieve or no right time frame.  May we be there for one another.

Quotes about making the most of our life:

  • “Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.” ~ Charles Richards
  • “Go for it now. The future is promised to no one.” ~ Wayne Dyer
  • “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” ~ Braveheart
  • “You may delay, but time will not.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
  • “Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live as if you’ll die today.” ~ James Dean
  • “The important thing is not how many years in your life but how much life in your years.” ~ Edward J. Stieglitz

To those dealing with grief, may you be comforted and have fond memories.  And, may we remember to be there as needed and to always love.