The Dash

When I set out on one of my walks or runs, I usually do not have a specific route in mind when I take my first steps.  Instead, I allow the spirit, and my feet, to move me.  Recently, they have led me to an unlikely place.

I have been inexplicably drawn to the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.  It’s a small, but majestic, cemetery with rows and rows and rows of identical white headstones perched atop well-manicured green grass.  The cemetery is surrounded by a low stone wall that separates those who rest in peace from those who live in the neighborhood that surrounds it on three sides.  Yet, when I walk through this sacred space, I feel no separation.

As my eyes linger on the names and dates on the individual stones that mark the final resting place for someone who used to walk the earth as I do now, I always find myself both wanting to know more about them and about myself.  I have come to learn their branch, rank, and military honors and service, and I know some of them are beloved spouses, parents, and friends.  Their entire lives are summed up in but a few words, phrases, and dates that transform a blank stone tablet into a simplistic, but beautiful, memorial.

This morning, as I repeated this ritual of reading the names of strangers and their epitaphs, I wondered what mine would say, other than my name, date of birth, and maybe a few other descriptors, such as mother and friend.  The date of my death is unknown, so, I concentrated on the dash in the middle.

Some of that dash has been filled in already with the people, places, things, and events that have led to who, what, and where I am today, at this very moment.  The rest of the dash is somewhat of a mystery, as I have a vision for the life that continues to unfold and evolve, and I have a growing appreciation for it, even though there are no absolutes or guarantees.  Too often, the fear of the unknown and the utter uncertainty of life have left me drowning in depression and anxiety.  At times, I have struggled to keep my head above water and braced for another wave to crash over me.  Then, something shifted that led me to find myself on higher ground.

Instead of being in a mad dash to figure out every facet of the dash, I have found myself setting intentions, taking action, and then, allowing the dash to come together in its own way and on its own time.  The dash is actually more of a wavy line than a straight line.  As I learn to ride those waves, I have a growing confidence and faith that when the time comes for my name and the dates of my life to be carefully etched into a stone slab that I will have made the most of my dash.  Or at least, I will die trying.

That’s another story. . .

 

 



Categories: That's Another Story

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2 replies

  1. I had a similar experience recently, Kristi Jo, when we visited the William McKinley memorial, The museum was fascinating, but standing in the vast monument which houses the remains of the President and his wife, and their two young daughters who died long before his presidency, I had those prickles… I found myself wanting to know more about them as a couple, as bereft parents, as human people who strove and hurt and struggled on. I like your idea of the dash as a wavy line–that’s a true image for sure! Another lovely and thought-provoking post.

    Pam

    • Pam, thank you for both your kind words and for sharing your experience when visiting the William McKinley memorial. You described it so well, and I can relate to those prickles and the longing to know more about them. May we make the most of our respective dashes!

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