By: Anne Weiher
For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die . . . Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
What is the season of our life: how do we define it? Linda Ellis in her book, The Dash, calls it the dash: the period of time between our birth and death. The “dash” is oftentimes found on tombstones, the beginning and the end. I wonder what the seasons of our lives are during the “dash.”
As I try to find meaning in my daughter, Elizabeth’s, life and her early death, I wonder how she would describe that “dash” time. How would others see it? For me, that time was a time of incredible joy as I watched a beautiful child grow into a wonderful young woman full of excitement and hope for the years ahead. In her early twenties things began to change for all of us. We became aware of the existence of the deadly and unforgiving illness that would take her life, anorexia. Despite dire warnings from others, we all remained optimistic about what the future might hold. For all of us, this “dash” time was one of hope for the future.
As time went on there were times of intense joy and immeasurable sorrow. During those early years, my own “dash” time was evolving and forming me into the woman I have become. Elizabeth’s middle dash years were a time in which we both explored our spirituality, albeit in somewhat different ways. Those years for me were a time during which I found a profound sense of the Holy as I became part of a community of individuals who shared a difficult journey with me. For Elizabeth, it was a time for the renewal of the ideals and values she experienced as a young child. As we continued our spiritual journeys, we became much more aligned in our beliefs.
We both found a welcoming, inclusive, supportive and engaged church community at First Congregational. Our involvement in this community became our lode star. As Elizabeth journeyed closer to the end of her dash, the love and nurturance of this community fed us during difficult times.
As I ponder Elizabeth’s life and my journey with her, I can see that for her, her “dash” time was defined by her connection to those around her: her infectious smile, her kind and gentle spirit. She reached out and impacted all those around her. Her “dash” time ended all too soon. The grief I feel as a result of her passing is at times overwhelming. Yet, I am comforted by the fact that she gave and experienced the deep love that surpasses all understanding. I was blessed to share her special life. So I ask, what is our “dash” time?