How are you living your dash?

Over the weekend I went to a celebration of life for a member of my wife Debi’s “adopted” family (Debi has known them for almost 40 years and lived with them for a time in her teens). This was for a lady who lived life fully from all accounts and pretty much lived each day for that day.

The gathering was unique, we sat on hay bales along a lazy creek in a dusty desert horse ranch, birds being birds, horses being horses and kids being kids. Even though there was sadness, there was life going on and a feeling by all that this is what Lynn would have wanted. Prayers were spoken, memories shared, the riderless horse of US Cavalry fame was led by and her art was displayed. Afterwards the family (and adoptees, and there were a bunch!) all adjourned to the family home nearby for what was really a family reunion. Some, like nephew Mark and clan, had traveled from Pennsylvania or like niece Jenny and her husband and daughter, from Los Angeles to be with 4 generations of family. Pictures were taken, stories told and the healing began.

Another unique occurrence was the family dinner afterwards. Lynn worked at a small local casino (this all took place in the semi-hinterlands of  Nevada) as a shift supervisor and was loved and respected by all there. To honor her, the casino treated the clan to a private buffet. Unfortunately there was a power outage (major wind event in fire parlance), and the food selection was odd to say the least (tasty but odd. With the exception of  the salad bar, it very much resembled the hor dourves selection at a Chamber of Commerce mixer!) but their heart was in the right place and it gave the family more time to socializie and took some weight off of her sister who was organizing all this. It also was as unique as Lynn was and will provide for some smiles when enough time has passed.

The main point of this post however was the poem read during the ceremony. It’s called “How Do You Live Your Dash” or simply “The Dash. It’s either by Cindy Fisher or Linda Ellis (you ladies fight it out, I’m just the messenger) and it goes like this:

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 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 little 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”

What more can be said? What will they say about you when your time comes? I like to think that I haven’t done too bad. How about you, how have you lived your dash?