Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Dash

March 28, 2002 - March 26, 2012.

The best day and the worst day of my life.

Etched in stone.

Even though every single thing about this is wrong, Addison Shelby's headstone turned out right.

By most people's standards, it's a little on the simple side. Black granite. A few lines. Her picture. Her name. Dates. And a dash.

A dash.

For those not familiar with Linda Ellis' poem The Dash, it speaks of love, loss and the life lived between a person's first day on earth and her last.

It urges us to make the most out of our dash.

To spend time, not money.

To live. And love.

Like most, I've loved and lost family members who've lived well into their 90s.

But I've felt my heart literally break in two when I lost a baby girl who was a mere 9 years, 11 months, and 28 days into her life.

The well-adjusted version of myself is willing to smile and nod when people tell me how much Addie was able to accomplish in such a short time. And yes, I have to agree. She did. The well-adjusted version of myself would also take a cue from Addie and try to live what's left of my dash to the fullest.

But let's face it. I'm not that well-adjusted.

Tonight, the mom in me longs for the little girl who would slide down the hallway in her socks, ask me to sign her planner, and give me two pats on the back when I tuck her in and kiss her goodnight.

As I peek into her room and look at her empty bed, I come to the same, sad realization I do every night.

I have to wait a lifetime to see her again.


The Dash Poem
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 the date of her birth
And spoke the following date 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”


  1. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful girl.

  2. I just discovered your story via Taylor at the Daily Tay and have spent the last hour going back through your posts. Your family, and your story has truly touched my heart. I know there are no words to ever adequately bring you comfort, but I will think of your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. Thank you for sharing Addison's dash with me. Beautiful...

  4. I’ve been searching for some decent stuff on the subject and haven't had any luck up until this point, You just got a new biggest fan!..