Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Dash

My cousin passed away last week and I attended her wake and funeral these past two days.  She was 26 years old and was born with cystic fibrosis.  She received a double lung transplant last year but since then, she had complications, and a fungal infection that lead to strokes took her life.  At the funeral yesterday there were so many special stories shared and it was a really great tribute to the amazing person she was.  There was one particular part of the service that has been on my mind more than others.  My uncle (her father) spoke and during his speech he read "The Dash."  I have not been able to stop thinking about this poem so I thought I would share it.

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?

I feel that this poem is so powerful and really made me think.  It is so easy to become consumed with the ins and outs of daily life. It so easily can become routine and can make it easy to get frustrated, to not think outside the box but instead, just think about putting one foot in front of the other to get through the day...but this poem reminded me that sometimes we need a reality check.  We need to remember YOLO (you only live once).  I love this phrase.  This one life on earth that we live happens only once so make the most of it.  Yes, this phrase is used mainly for people to validate having fun (and I use it in that type of scenario too), but I think it is so much more! YOLO, so make the most of YOUR Dash . 

I want to make a difference in the lives of others.  I am not 100% sure how to do a better job of doing this but that is a goal that I want to accomplish and I think following the recommendations in the poem can be a guide.  I want people to feel like I made a difference in their lives during my dash.  I think if everyone lived their 'dash' as described and recommended in this poem the world would be a better and happier place. 

~Erin Leigh

PS.  If you have an interest in my cousin's inspiring story, she documented her journey on and also can be found on Facebook at Air for Ashley is now being turned into a nonprofit organization to help raise funding for patients that need lung transplants as that is what Ashley wanted. 

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