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Monday, September 21, 2015

The Meaning of The Dash

 Five years ago today, one of the most special people to ever grace my life passed away. After a short battle with cancer, my grandma went home to her eternal resting place where she now awaits my arrival...and that of every other Christian who is following her to Heaven.  It is hard to imagine that the years have flown by so quickly. It seems like only yesterday when I still had her in my life. I struggled to come to grips with her passing when it happened. I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that I would not have her with me anymore…the separation was almost too much to bear. And yet, as time has worn on, I have to come to appreciate her even more and the fact that some of her love of people and life still lives on in me. I know that she would be so happy for the things that I have gone on to do - things that she had always hoped and prayed for me which have since become reality. I still hold her close to my heart and, as I reflect today about her and all she meant to me, I think the best way to remember her is to share with you my remarks which I gave at her memorial service a few weeks after her death. May her example inspire you through these words: 

 "Someone recently said the following words in an interview, and I quote: 'When you die, you have this thing called a tombstone that goes above where you're buried. And on that tombstone is your name, the date you were born, and the date you died. But between those two dates is a little thing called a dash, and that represents everything that your life has been.' They went on to talk about how some people live very long lives but do nothing of any value at all, so their dash carries little meaning. Others live very short lives but they do a lot in a small lifetime and their dash carries all the meaning in the world. 
 In thinking about my Nana, she sort of had the best of both. Not only was she granted the blessing of a long and happy life, but she understood the art of making each day a masterpiece, of striving to make every moment count and, over 85 years, all those days and moments added up to one of the most beautiful lives ever lived. For 22 years, I had the pleasure of watching this unfold, and I can tell you that there is hardly anyone I know who lived life more to the fullest than she did. Always a cheerful word to say, always a kind thought to give, she could forever be counted on to be your closest friend and your greatest advocate. Nobody believed in you more or wanted you to be successful as much as she did and, because of this, I grew up feeling as though her life intertwined with mine. My friends were her friends. My experiences were her experiences. My joys were her joys. My sad times were her sad times. She was always there - at the pick-up of a phone, she was there. And I know I'm not the only one who felt that way. And just as she shared in my life, so I shared in hers. So many of her experiences and friends became important to me as I grew so that I could hardly imagine what my life would be like without her. 
 In the weeks that followed her passing, it has been hard to adjust to the fact that the bright sparkle in our lives that we knew as Barbara and who I knew as my Nana, would not be right there as she always had been. It felt odd to continue on with new experiences and friends but, at the same time, realize that she would no longer share in them as she always had. 
 But, just as the Bible promises that God will bring comfort to those who mourn, He did so for me through a dream that I had…
I dreamt that the telephone rang one day and I ran to pick it up. When I answered it was my grandma. I knew she had died and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why her voice was on the other end of the line. For sometime I had been wanting to tell her about things that had happened since she passed away and so I finally asked her, 'Is this a phone call from Heaven?' She said, 'Yes, darling. I want you to tell me all about everything that's happened since I left you.' I began to relate it all to her and, when I had finished, the line went dead. And I woke up. 
I think this must've been God's way of letting me know that even though she is no longer with us, she is still looking down from Heaven in that wonderful, caring, and loving way that she always did. Although her physical presence has been removed from our lives, her love does linger on with us, and we carry her in our hearts forever. When I look at the many pictures we have of her and call to mind the countless, happy memories that I was blessed to share with her, I have to say that hers was a life well-lived, and she truly made her "dash" worthwhile. 
 For years to come, whenever I think of her, I will always remember that it is not so much what we do in life that matters as much as who we are. The gift of life from God is what we make it, and it is our duty as His creatures to ensure that we make it a meaningful one, and no one did that more than my Nana. She will be missed greatly by many of us who loved her dearly. But I think that the best way that we can remember her, and one that I hope to practice in my own life, is to make each day your masterpiece. Make life count, and enjoy it to the fullest. And someday, when it is our turn to go, may the "dash" between our dates mean something, as well…" 

 I love and miss you, Nana. And I know that I will see you soon.