It’s a knotty little problem.
Those programs you receive when you attend a funeral.
What do you do with them?
If you’re like me, you take them home.
Unsure of what to do.
You’re not sure how to deal with them respectfully.
And you might want to look at them again, anyway.
So, unable and unwilling to throw them away, you put them in a drawer.
Where they stay. For years sometimes.
Maybe you see them now and again as you go about your days.
But you tend to pass over them.
Putting things off for another day.
And so it was I had funeral service papers of a friend who died a couple of years ago.
Someone whose service I had been unable to go to.
But whose family had taken the trouble to send me all the papers and photos as though I had been there.
But now it was time to time to let go.
I’d been sad at the time but it was time to move on.
I wait until no-one is home, take some matches, clear a space outside and light candles.
Once I have read all the papers, I set them alight with a candle.
And watch while they burn.
And once there are only ashes left. I take them and plant a flower I have bought, using the ashes to supplement as fertilizer.
Somehow the supporting of new life with remnants of the old completes a circle for me.
I do this for every memorial order of service I receive.
This time, though, it took much longer than normal.
Because in the wedge of papers I had of my friend’s life, was a poem.
And I thought it was wonderful.
I read it three times.
It encapsulates in one little thing – the dash – the years of life between our birth and death.
And how we can make the most of them.
Take a read of it. And have a little think…
A Little Dash By Linda Ellis
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 her date of birth
And spoke of the following dates 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 ?