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Dots and Dashes

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
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Dots and Dashes

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the passing of time. There is a phrase, quoted fairly often, about life and death. It says: “Your life is made up of two dates and a dash. Make the most of your dash.”  Our spouses got a shortened dash. We are left to make the most of ours. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m doing a great job of it. I don’t want to squander my dash. I think there are multiple “dashes” within the big one. Maybe they are more like dots...

I turned 50 last month. A big milestone. A take a pause & moment to reflect birthday. I looked back to when I turned 20, and was in college, working, and with a good part of my life ahead of me. I met Joe when I was 27, after I had finished graduate school & started my career as a teacher. We bought our house 6 weeks before we got married, which was 17 days before I turned 30. I settled into married life, struggled with fertility, and had 2 kids by the time I was 40. I remember looking back at 20, and 30, and wondering what would happen when I turned 50. I certainly never envisioned being a widow (for nine years no less), or all the things I have lived through. When I look at the “dots and dashes” between each decade, it seems like a lot of life-altering events occurred in each. But by far, the loss of my spouse overshadows any of the others I’ve experienced thus far. Turning 50 came with little fanfare. My sister and I spent the day doing some fun things locally, but there was no surprise party, no trip, no extravagant gift as many of my married friends received from their spouses. No, it was just another in the long line of uneventful days.

I’ve struggled with making the most of my dash since Joe died. I feel like I’m not living up to the pressure of being grateful for the “borrowed time” he didn’t get. But would I have lived any differently if he was here? Would the ordinary everyday wear us down & change where we ultimately would be? I’ll never know. I carry the weight of all the responsibility, the worry, the kids, the finances, the house…everything on my shoulders. I try to honor his memory, but I often feel like I’m coming up short.

The last year I have tried to focus on me; on improving myself…mentally, physically, even spiritually. I started eating clean, getting up at 5:15am to work out, reading for enjoyment, & even swimming again (something I had given up post lost to make more time for the “have to” obligations). I have lost 35 lbs, and found some peace & even some solace once in a while. But I still feel restless and anxious. That clock is always in the back of my mind. It only moves one direction…away from the first date, and closer to the second. Am I using my time wisely? Could I be doing things better, or different? How can I live so that I don’t have regrets when my time on this earth draws close to the second date.

It’s a lot to ponder. It’s heavy, and dark, and sometimes overwhelming. I can’t say whether I would be milling this over if I was a married 50 year old instead of a widowed one. I just know that I like to step back and think about that dash, and making Joe proud of what I’ve done with the “widowed” part of that. I don’t know if he’d even recognize me anymore, and that makes me both proud and sad. All I can do is look back, and look forward, and try to determine if I am making the most of my dash. Sometimes I feel strongly like I am, and yet others, I fall abysmally short. All I can do is try. So as I think about this, I ask you to wonder: Are you making the most of yours? And if you aren’t, how can you change that? Not an easy question, or task, but one worth considering.


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