Sunday, February 10, 2008


The Dash

by 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 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?
© 1996 Linda Ellis

I have this poem up on my bulletin board at work, but I had forgotten about it until recently. (A presenter handed out laminated copies at a conference I attended years ago.) There was discussion about reading this poem at my grandpa's funeral, but we already had plenty of great stories to share during the service. On Friday, I paused for a moment in my workday to read the poem. Usually I am so wrapped in the things that I am not doing, that I forget about the things I am doing. I worry that I am not exercising enough or cleaning my house enough, but nobody else is going to remember these parts of my life. People don't base eulogies on how clean your house was or how organized your files are or if you exercised thirty minutes everyday. It is about how you treat the people in your life; that is what is important.

No comments: