Reflections on Life and Loss

The process of living, for each of us, is pretty similar. For every gain there is a setback. For every success, a failure. For every moment of joy, a time of sadness. For every hope realized, one is dashed. —Sue Atchley Ebaugh

Today is Memorial Day and a time to reflect on those citizens who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our country. Too many of my generation did not return from Viet Nam and too many of the current generation of soldiers are returning in caskets, or with psychological wounds too deep to see.

It is my observation that “Thank you” needs to be accompanied by, “How can I help?” when addressing our Veterans. They/We are not alone in this Post-war world and together we can begin to move forward and heal the wounds, physical and mental, that affect us all.

Life and Death

Sometimes I am surrounded by swarms of thoughts and ideas and, if I am lucky, they are interrelated. That is where I am today and it all started when I saw poem that was posted on the wall of someone’s cubicle. The author is not credited, but here is the verse:

Just A Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of his friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and he spoke of the second with tears,
but he said that what mattered most of all
was the dash between the 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.
(You could be at “dash mid-range”)

If we could just slow down enough to consider
what’s true and what’s 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 while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
with your life’s actions to rehash
would you be pleased with the things they say
about how you spent your dash?

Two days ago a group of co-workers held an informal memorial service for one-of-our-own who died in her sleep of a congenital heart defect at the age of 49. I was working and unable to attend but I was given a keepsake of the event, which I will wear for the rest of this Swing shift in remembrance of Jeannie, a fellow Free Spirit.

In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.
Robert Frost

As I reflect on those who are no longer with us today, one song has been going through my mind. Here is Frank Sinatra from 1965: Telling it like it is, was, and shall be forever more:

 Blue Skies, Jeannie.

  11 comments for “Reflections on Life and Loss

  1. December 18, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    Thanks again (I forgot the first time to say thanks) for sharing.
    Al OTE


  2. My Tropical Home
    June 7, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    I’ve got that quote on my home page, and how true it is. I keep thinking to change it but I can’t bring myself to for now.

    Our version of Memorial Day is onApril 9 and I honored the war veterans in my family in a similar post also. The Dash story still moves me the way it did the first time I read it.

    This was such a beautiful tribute to the courageous millions who lived, fought and died.


    • June 7, 2013 at 3:56 PM


      Thank you for your comments, I am never certain how my posts will be received and it is nice to know that it is a positive experience for someone.



      • My Tropical Home
        June 9, 2013 at 4:41 AM

        They all are, at least the ones I’ve read, that’s why I’m following your blog 😉
        Have a great weekend!


  3. May 28, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    I am a nanny for two children now that I’ve retired from teaching. One if these beautiful boys is named Dash. I love him now, but will not look at him now without thinking how truly important he (and his name) are.
    Beautiful post.


    • May 28, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      Hi Gemma,

      Thank you for the story of your Dash. I am glad that my story meant so much to you.


  4. May 28, 2013 at 1:38 AM

    I like very much this post Allan..The dash is every thing that matters…Every thing starts and finish…So it is in our hands to make the time in the middle worthy…The song is great as well…


  5. May 27, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    I saw a sign today that read “Support our troops not our government” – in Canada this is particularly apt – there should be a separation just like church and state – we don’t do enough for our veterans….


    • May 27, 2013 at 3:58 PM

      We have the power to change our personal troop support every day and I think that we owe it to them to do more in that arena.

      Thanks for checking in on this subject, Allan

      Sent from my iPhone


  6. May 27, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    That “dash” reminds me of something Annie Leibovitz said about her famous photo of the Marines rolling up the carpet after Nixon had left the White House via helicopter – that the “in-between times” are the most interesting. Most other photographers had left after Nixon disappeared and the helicopter lifted off. She stayed, and got that marvelous image of life between Nixon and whatever would come next.

    After all, if it weren’t for our in-between times, the dash, the middle – all of our stories would boil down to, “Once upon a time, they lived happily ever after”.


    • May 27, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      You make some excellent points about the in-between times.

      Thank you for the AL reference. I had to Google it and when I saw it, I realized that it was new to me. Thanks for the surprise!


      Sent from my iPhone


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