While on vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, my husband and I visited a historical cemetery on Ocracoke Island. As we wound our way through the gravestones, we noted the names and dates. Most of the markers were very plain, with only the person's name and lifespan written on them. Several were so old you could barely make out the words etched into the crumbling stone.
Sadly, some were of infants who died only a few days after birth. Others were of young soldiers who were brought back in wooden caskets to be buried in their out-of-the-way hometown by the sea. Still others were of men and women who lived to be a ripe old age. But they all had one thing in common.
My husband pointed to one of the headstones and said, "It's all about the dash."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
He shrugged. "There's a date of birth and a date of death. But what I wonder about is the kind of life they lived in the dash between the dates."
I thought the statement was profound. I'd never thought about it quite that way before. It made me turn my focus on myself and what I've done with this precious life God has given me and how people will remember me after I'm gone.
Mostly good things, I think. Some not so good. I've made mistakes. Many, in fact. But without mistakes we can't grow, so I continue to forgive myself for being human.
I hope my husband and son will remember me as a wife and mother who loved them to the moon and back and always tried to put them first - before myself, my career, or any outside obligations. I didn't always balance it perfectly or do everything right, but looking back, I think I've done a pretty good job.
I hope my parents see a little of themselves in me.
I hope my grandson, no matter how old he gets, will always consider me "crazy fun."
Some friendships last for a season and some last a lifetime. I hope I've been the kind of friend I'd like to have.
I hope the patients I've cared for during my nursing career will remember me not only as a capable professional, but more importantly a person of compassion.
I'd like to be remembered as someone who stood in awe of God's beautiful creation and saw His hand in every crashing wave, gilded cloud, and a faithful dog's eyes.
I hope someone will say, "She fell down a time or two but always got back up."
But most of all, it's my highest hope that, despite my many failings and imperfections, those who knew me best will have no doubt where I'm headed after I shrug off this earthen vessel. Hallelujah!
How do you want to be remembered after you're gone?
The good news is that our lives aren't over yet! Those dates haven't been carved in stone! It's never too late for a new beginning or to make amends. In whatever time we have left, let's laugh more, love more, pick more flowers, blow more bubbles, eat more ice cream, give of ourselves more, and do our best to make this world a little better place.
It's all about the dash.
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