Today I was at the funeral of another of my younger bc friends - another young woman unfortunate enough to have aggressive triple negative breast cancer, which ran its course in less than two years. It was the second humanist 'ceremony' I've attended in recent weeks, and I am not a fan, for reasons I will post in a separate reflection, but I did appreciate this poem, new to me, which was read out, called The Dash:
by Linda Ellis copyright 1996
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?
Copyright Linda Ellis
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
I do not believe the 'dash' is all we have, but nonetheless, I like the sentiment that we maximise its worth.
RIP Caroline, free from pain, held safe in everlasting love.