One of my favorite writings is the one about the dash. I’m sure most of you have heard it but essentially it talks about the dash on our tombstones. The date before the dash is of course the date we entered this world and the date after is the date we leave it. The dash represents our life in between those dates. Ever since I read that years ago, I never look at a tombstone the same. I always find myself glancing at the dash, wondering about the person, what their dash contains, like the one on my sweet Mama’s headstone. I think about all the memories crammed into that little line. If you’re reading this, we’re all still in the dash and cramming it full of something every day…. I say wow to myself, what in the world am I putting in that dash every moment I live. What will my kids see when they look at my dash years down the road (hopefully a lot of years down the road!).
But back to my point… you know I’m a drifter.
As I think about graduation, the Dash comes to mind, and the similarities between it and the tassel. No, the tassel doesn’t represent something as extreme as life and death, although to some high school students the parallels may be there, but what if each strand, each string on the tassel did represent memories, life as they’ve lived it so far, much like we’re doing on the dash right now. There’s a strand for each year of school, the one for kindergarten graduation, for first best friends, and others along the way. Maybe there’s a strand for each time they got an award, broke a bone, played in a ballgame, or scored a goal. There could be strands for each concert or play they were in, dance recitals, sleepovers, Mama coming to eat lunch at school until they weren’t allowed to anymore. There could be strands for the times they got caught doing something not quite right, the day they got braces and the day they got them off. Strands for first loves, first heartbreaks, second loves, second heartbreaks, you get my meaning. And there are strands for dances, proms, nights at the ballgames with friends, faces painted, crazy outfits for spirit week, meeting at favorite places to eat and laughing until they couldn’t laugh anymore… each strand a moment. The list could go on and on and each child’s strands, while similar in some ways, each is uniquely theirs, each holds their memories, our memories, and there aren’t enough strands…. no doubt.
As my little boy’s hand reaches up tonight to move that tassel from one side to the other, as your son or daughter does the same, I’ll see my five year old turn into the young man he’s become. I’ll see him clutch a whole lot of life in that big strong hand as he turns it to the other side, like turning the page to the next great adventure. Yes, the tassel will come home and lay in a box or hang on the wall, or maybe hang on their mirror until it’s not cool anymore, which will probably be five minutes after graduation, but it will always hold that huge giant chapter of pages, the biggest chapter yet, but the first of many to come.
For those who have others still in school after this, I envy you. I remember when my girls graduated, I was so thankful to have one more coming along, “a few more years with one at home” I’d say. That was yesterday. For you, though, just remember that every day of these precious years, they are adding to their strands, to the tassel they will wear on graduation which, trust me, is really like tomorrow.
For months, I’ve joked about how much I was going to cry, how hard it was going to be, but you know, in jest is often the truth. I know Dave’s retirement has played a part in my emotions, not the act of retirement, but the goodbye, the double goodbye, we’ll be saying. Talk about a big chapter. Yes, the girls and I all walked those halls and made memories during high school but Chase’s chapter is different. He walked those halls too, but he also ran them, hid in them, bounced basketballs in them, climbed on the roof of them, heard the loud speaker call his little name in them almost daily, from the time he was 8 years old. Teachers adopted him, some probably tried to get rid of him, LOL, and a few saved him, I am sure. I am grateful for every single one, just makes his tassel that much more full.
Good luck to all the graduates and prayers for a life to be well lived. Fill your dashes with all the joy you can find, kick all the bad stuff off the dash every chance you get, and depend on the good Lord to balance you on it when it gets wobbly and you feel like you’re falling. And every time you see that tassel, even years from now, I hope you smile and remember every single strand.
Class of 2017…. Love you all!