Brody: Are you happy with your dash?

One time I went to the funeral of the mother of a dear friend of mine. The minister in his tribute to her life talked about “The Dash.”

In all of my years of attending funerals I have never heard of this idea, but I loved it because of its simplicity and an image so easily visualized.

He said we all have on our tombstone a birth date and a death date, but the only really important dates are all the times that person lived among us, as represented by a simple dash.

After the ceremony, we all continued to the Winchester Cemetery. On every tombstone was engraved a birth date, a dash and a death date.

The minister’s words became crystal clear, and it got me thinking.

I realized I, too, have a birth date and will someday have a death date. I’m in the process of living out my dash.

To me, it was a clear picture of one’s life on earth.

So, what does my dash look like so far? What has been my guiding force for all of my years?

Maybe I should make a list of things I have done I feel good about and another list of things I wish I could redo, change or even forgive myself for.

Maybe in doing this, I could begin to understand why I am the way I am. I am like a big sponge placed in the rain. Why?

Where did I get my compassion for all life? And where on earth did I get such a deep concern about animals and their humane treatment? What, exactly, have I done to live out my convictions? Have I made any difference at all living out my dash?

Big questions, these.

After I went home that day, I talked to my husband Gene about all of this. He was pretty clear about his answers.

He had been a successful businessman and an attentive daddy. In fact, when we married, we raised his youngest three children. And he surely did love me.

He, like me, had things on another list he wished he could redo or do better but loving enough, I don’t believe was on the negative list.

This entire dash business really got to me. Mostly, I realize my dash is still being drawn.

I humbly pray to do better each day, try to stay healthier and, most importantly, to be more pleasing in God’s eyes.

What about your dash? Maybe you could write two lists and see if you feel good about what you have done so far.

Did you find your passions and be true to them? Are your deepest convictions still your beliefs, and do you feel satisfied you’ve loved enough?

The dash is really something to think about. Isn’t it a blessing we can still write out our dash, hopefully, with a smile on our face?

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.