My friend’s mother passed away recently, and I attended the funeral. Although I didn’t know her well, I do know that she was intertwined in many lives, both friends and family, and was very much loved. Her son gave a eulogy that struck something deep down inside. He explained that typically a person’s life is summed up by their birthdate and their date of death, separated by a dash. He spoke about his mother’s “dash” – all the stuff that she did between the date she was born and the date she died.
It got me thinking. What will make up my dash? Will it be made up of regrets and “wish I had dones,” or of rich memories of time spent with friends and family and things accomplished? I suspect it will be a combination of both, but I sure would like it to be heavier on the latter. Everyone talks about their bucket list – their list of things to do or places they would like to see before they die. I don’t have a bucket list – I have a dash to fill.
I want my dash to be filled with countless hours spent with my family, even when my kids are fighting or we are mad at each other. That will still be time spent together. I want to live to be old and see my kids’ kids grow up. I hope I am remembered not necessarily as being a good mother and wife – who defines good, after all? – but one who loved deeply and did the best she possibly could.
Of course, I want my dash to be full of travel. I want to wake up in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora and watch the reef fish and stingrays swim up to my dock and witness spectacular sunsets. I want to continue my pilgrimages to my Happy Place (Walt Disney World) and suck up princesses and roller coasters and popcorn (the best ever!) and fireworks and sappy music and make memories, like my son taking his first steps there. I want to continue to learn about other cultures and how others live and eat and play. I want to enjoy breakfast at an outdoor cafe in Cinque Terre. I want to discover that perfect drink to enjoy on a white sand beach while I take a moment and slow life down, surrounded by friends and family.
I want my dash to reflect that I was a good person - who doesn’t? I’m sure no one looks in the mirror and says, “I hope I suck today.” But sometimes it’s easier to suck than do good. I hope that I lend a hand to someone when they’re down and hope I have taught my kids well so they do the same. I hope I make the right choices when the making the wrong ones is the easy way out (or more fun). I want to do what’s right because it’s right and not for the recognition.
I want my dash to include dogs, because dogs rock. They offer solace when you’re upset, they love unconditionally, and they will stand by your side no matter what. On the downside, there is the matter of dog hair on everything you own and sometimes dog hair tumbleweeds rolling across the floor. However, nowhere in my dash do I care if “good housekeeper” is included.
All in all, it’s not a whole lot, but it is at the same time. I hope my life is so full that I need two dashes.