My father-in-law passed away a couple of weeks ago.  He was a man of such compassion and presence that it’s hard to believe he’s no longer walking the earth in physical form.

He was that old time country doctor that everyone dreams about having.  When you told him about how bad you were feeling, he really looked at you, he really listened and he always knew how to help.  And his stories.  Oh my gosh, his stories would have you laughing until tears streamed down your face.  A doctor that’s been practicing for over 50 years has a lot of material to draw from!

He will be greatly missed, by so many people, for a very long time.

However, this is not a tribute to him, for that can be better found in the stories told by his family, friends and many, many patients he served in his small Pennsylvania town.  This is a story about the dash.  The dash in our lives between the day we were born and the day we die.  For it’s not the beginning nor the end that matter as much as what we did in between.

At this point in our lives, we’ve all been a witness to death.  It brings with it an almost unbearable poignancy.  A sense of emotion, so close to the surface, that it’s impossible to ignore.  And there, lies in the gift.  When you feel so strongly and are in such touch with your emotions, it’s easier to feel alive.  And to have gratitude for that life.  Things slow down for a brief moment and it allows time for quiet contemplation.

And in that space, we get to think about our lives.  We get the opportunity to stop and really think about we want to be said about us at our end. What we want our dash to mean.

We get to choose.  Maybe we can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we think about them.  We can’t choose or control how other people act, but we can choose how we treat them.  We can choose how we respond, how we behave and how compassionate we are with ourselves.  So many moments, so many choices.  Choices that make up a day, that make up a year, that make up our dash.

What do you want your dash to mean?

In loving memory of all those who have gone before.