The Dash – A Story of a Life

I was at the funeral today of a former colleague, a wonderful man who devoted his life to helping others. During the service, the priest read a poem by Linda Ellis. The poem is titled “Dash“, and talks about the line that separates the date a person is born from the date a person dies. The dash, in essence represents our life, and all the experiences we have had from birth to death.

It’s a beautiful poem, and I thought I’d share it here:

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her casket from 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 would 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 is 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 have 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?

I’m thinking I would like my dash to be in a bold font, to represent a life that was well-lived, but lived boldly. I’ve got some work to do to make that a reality.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with wonderful family and friends, and have already shared many wonderful experiences with them.

But hopefully, as Robert Frost said, I’ve still got “miles to go before I sleep”, and many more opportunities to make that dash bold and beautiful.


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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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