Reflecting on life and death and the dash in between

Yesterday, my husband and I attended the funeral for his 62 year old cousin, Scott.  He died after a very short illness.  He was supposed to have more time.  He was supposed to be here longer.  His wife and his children were counting on that.  Even in illness, they thought they had more time.  Instead, less than three months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Scott  died.

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We stood on grass, wet with morning dew, as a casket was moved into place over Scott’s final resting place.  We gingerly stepped over graves, and I was struck by the fact that we were standing over the remains of so many loved ones.  To our left, by the sprinkler, are my husband’s mom and dad.  To the right, in the crypts, are many more Bodine relatives.  My husband’s uncle said,

I sure am sick of coming to this place!

Later, at the memorial service, we heard stories about Scott’s life, his adventures, his work, his role as a brother and his role as a father.  His was a life well lived.

As I ponder the life of this man whom I’d only met once, I can’t help but remember the words of Maya Angelou that have been repeated over and over in the recent days since her death.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Listening to those who spoke about Scott’s life, I heard a lot about how much he loved others.  His children told stories about how he made them feel, though that’s not exactly how they said it.  A dad who demonstrated faith, love, discipline, faithfulness.  And they weren’t ready for him to go.

I love cemeteries.  Maybe it’s the quiet, or the way the grave markers are laid out in rows. But I find they are peaceful places to reflect on life and on God.  I went there today, to see the grave where Scott was laid, grass freshly pressed back into the ground. I went there to listen.  When I’m in the cemetery, I hear through images.  There are large, ornate headstones and simple, stamped concrete markers.  There are deceased loved ones whose souls are now at rest.  And I’m always struck by the numbers of people who are sitting by the graves of their loved ones. Some have chairs and an umbrella.  Some have flowers.  Others have a picnic.  They mourn.

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I am reminded once again, that the life I live is the “dash” in my headstone.  Here lies Kari, 1962 – ****. What am I doing with my dash?  What is my legacy?  What will people say about me when they come to my funeral?

It’s simple really.  I want them to say,

Kari loved God. Kari loved people.

That’s it.  Jesus’ simple words from Matthew 22 when asked what the greatest commandment was:

Love The Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and the second one is like it.  Love your neighbor as yourself.

It’s long been my belief that we wouldn’t need the The Commandments if everyone  would just follow those (seemingly) simple words.  When you break it all down, none of the evil in this world would exist if we all just did those two things.

But back to the cemetery.  I told my husband I want to be buried here:

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I love these little boxes where souvenirs of someone’s life is on display.  I’d love to know what my family would put on display in my little box.  I hope it would display the souvenirs of a life well lived.  I hope that somewhere along the way I have made others feel loved, important, significant.

What’s in your “dash?” What legacy do you want to leave?

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6 Comments on “Reflecting on life and death and the dash in between

  1. You are a very special person Kari. You make others feel loved, trust me. No doubt you will be spoken highly of. I love you.

  2. Kari ..
    This was such a great view on life and exactly what I have been pondering as of late! I have lived thru hard times as you know but that “dash” is the most important thing ! Even thru the hardships I know who is holding me up! The Lord is great!

    • Oh, my heart goes out to you Robin. Such unimaginable loss. Hope you are doing well. Would love to catch up sometime!

  3. I have found that if you live every day like it were your last you will have no regrets. Somehow the world seems smaller and within an arm’s reach. You love those you love with greater intensity. You listen to every word spoken. You see beauty everywhere . The flowers are more fragrant . The sky is more blue..even if it is raining. Most importantly, you love Jesus with all your heart, soul, and strength.
    It is so important that when you look back to this time on earth you can say I have done the best I could do. I have loved the most I could love. To my God , I have been faithful.

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