The Dash

Tonight I spent my evening standing in a really long line.  Hubby and I went to the wake of a man we never met, we were there to support one of our Y family as she mourns the loss of her 57 year old baby brother.  He died very suddenly Sunday afternoon, shoveling snow.  The picture of health it seemed.

We stood in line for over 90 minutes, as we left the line appeared to have never gotten any shorter, it was still long and calm.  When we arrived the staff of the funeral home asked us which of the deceased we were there for, when we told him he pointed away from the room down the hall to the back of a very, very long line.  Quietly we took our place and proceeded to wait.

Standing there, listening to the people gathered, quietly observing it all.  It occurred to me that this was quite a testimony to a life well lived.  We hadn't even entered the room of the service, we were simply in the hallway at the funeral home.  I was amazed.  Everyone around was sharing stories, in small little groups, by the time we reached his widow what an incredible life we had been exposed to.

So quickly the smiling laughing man that had married his high school sweetheart had slipped from this earth.  In two days his family and friends had gathered together, had put together a beautiful tribute video and had created a celebration of his life.

I hadn't wanted to go, first off I am not a huge fan of funerals.  The first I ever went to was my beloved Grammie's and I was in my late thirty's then.  And secondly, though I mourned her loss for her, I never feel like this particular person likes me and that was just a scenario I wasn't up for.  But like my sweet hubby always says the wake/funeral isn't for the dead it is for the living, and he was right, it was for the living.

Driving home tonight under that beautiful full rising moon, I reflected on the conversations of the evening.  His beautiful wife, in her grief saying her life was done, because her husband was gone.  The anger in her eyes at him being ripped from her so fast, so unexpectedly. The anger in her voice as she said her perfect love affair couldn't possibly be over that they weren't finished.  Her telling us as she stood barefoot in front of he casket, that she had told him to go straight to Jesus, not to wait for her, that she would be there when it was her time. His older sister looking so worn and distraught, wearily giving a warm hug of thanks for being there for her.  And finally his precious daughters.  All three of them with blood shot eyes, being kind and hugging so many people.

His youngest really struck me, so composed and beautiful, smiling as she thanked us for coming.  So calm, as she spoke to us, total strangers about the loss she was still trying to wrap her brain around.  She didn't speak in complete sentences, she spoke of the things done then of the things that would never be done, all 30 NHL stadiums, how he had been supposed to walk her down the aisle.  The glistening in her eyes as she struggled to explain a loss that she still hadn't been able to comprehend. It was so important to her that we understood what she couldn't yet grasp.  We were simply strangers that could only offer condolences and hugs, and a willing ear to listen to her breaking heart. 

Hugging this young woman child and looking at the endless line of people, all I could think was that he had lived a life worth celebrating. This man I had never met, had touched so many lives. His youngest kept repeating that they thought only a few people would come, there hadn't been warning or time, a
look of sheer love and pride as she surveyed the line of people waiting patiently to pay their respects.

Walk through any cemetery and you will see hundreds of tombstones with a beginning and an end date stamped for all to see.  But that dash in between is what defines us as human beings.  This man with the long line of mourners had lived that dash to the fullest, given and received love, was admired and respected.  And his loss will most definitely be felt. 

When my time on this earth is done, I hope that those I love will remember how I lived my dash, if I touch even a quarter of those lives I will feel that I have accomplished something amazing. I am not ready to leave this life, I am not finished living my dash, but if called home I hope my dash has been enough for a few memories.  How are you living your dash?  Will there be a roomful of people that are sad that your time is gone, or will your passing barely be noticed?  Will your life be celebrated or the fact that you are gone simply be noticed by the few?

Tonight I will pray for peace and comfort for his family, for his passage home and for a healing love to wrap them tight.  Tonight I want to celebrate living your dash.

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