Last week I had the painful heart wrenching experience of burying my brother. As the writer in the family it fell on me to write the eulogy. My brother was much older than me so I didn’t know a lot about his earlier life and he was too humble and modest to boast of his accomplishments or his good works. But as I pieced together information from my mother, my older siblings and his numerous friends and colleagues, I realized all he did was too much to fit into a one page eulogy.
As I wrote the heading with his name and his birth date followed by his earthly departure separated by a dash, one of my sisters commented sadly that it all came down to the dash. With tears welling in my eyes I realized she was right. All we have is that dash between the time we are born and the time we die. That dash could be 58 years like my brother, or 95 like Nelson Mandela, or 5, but we only have that dash.
We can use our dash for our own gain accomplishing things to be used to satisfy our own selfish desires. Or we can use our dash to better the life of others and build memories that will last beyond the grave. My brother filled his dash to capacity with selfless deeds, acts of kindness, leadership, and community service as his friends, colleagues and past students attested in the many tributes during the funeral. Nelson Mandela filled his dash with great works fighting for freedom, justice, equality and peace. I hope to use my dash to inspire and better the lives of everyone I come in contact with, whether online or in person.
We only have this dash. What will you do with your dash?