Oct 18, 2023
Thinking about mortality and what makes for a life well-lived and well-loved.
I’ve been thinking about my mortality lately and it really started me down the road of musing on what makes for a life well-lived and a life well-loved.
It really is the existential question, but one I find myself thinking about a lot.
With all the turmoil in the world, the war in Ukraine, the horrific actions of Hamas in Israel, there has never been a time that I worry more about humanity than I have recently.
We print a lot of obituaries here at the paper and I’ve always said that you can tell how much someone is loved by their obituary. It can be one line or it can be a story about the person.
I recently attended Deacon Renso Castellarin’s funeral with over 350 people, and I’ve attended a funeral where the only person there was myself and husband of the person who died.
I came across this poem and boy did it say everything about what is going through my mind. I’d like you to read it and see if it resonates with you on any level.
The Dash Poem (By Linda Ellis)
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning...to the end
He noted that first came the date of 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 they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
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 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?
Throughout the poem, Ellis calls the reader to think about how they want to live out their years in between those two significant dates.
My advice is that it’s a short trip. One day you wake up and you wonder where the time went. I hope we wake up each and every morning thankful we are breathing and to try to make the dash matter. It doesn’t matter how fancy your car or your house, what matters is the people you touched and the lives you ultimately affected.