Last weekend, I took my daughter and her best friend to . One of our favorite things is visiting old cemeteries. I know it may seem morbid, but the ones in Charleston are awesome. As we stood, reading epitaphs from the 1700’s, one caught my eye. It had the standard name, date of birth and death and then simply read “Beloved Aunt of Edward.”
I laughed, wondering if Edward was the author of the eloquent epitaph. I mean, really? Is that all she was known for? But then again, if she wasn’t married, had no children of her own and poured her life into Edward, maybe she would have wanted this to be her legacy. Who am I to judge? Perhaps it was a wonderful and fulfilling life.
Over the years, I’ve attended numerous conferences about grief counseling. It never fails. We always have to write our own epitaph and obituary . . . my favorite group activity . . . NOT!! The first time I had to do this, I was in my mid -twenties and was horrified. The epitaph . . . not so bad, but to be expected to write the full obituary including place and year of death, cause of death, who was present and then the eulogy. That’s morbid, even for me!
I can’t remember what I wrote then. I wish I would have saved it, but I know each time I was forced to participate in such a morose activity, I got a little more comfortable with it. And, of course, that’s the point. To be a good grief counselor one has to be comfortable with one’s own mortality.
Now that I’m older and bolder (maybe a little more defiant), I refuse to write about the details of my death. I know that’s in God’s hands, and it’s pointless to imagine all the possible scenarios. What I do like to focus on is the legacy, my "dash".
Years ago, I read a beautiful poem, The Dash by Linda Ellis.The gist of the poem is that the year of birth and death doesn’t matter. It’s what we do with the dash between that counts.
Some days, I imagine my epitaph might read, “A bit of a slug, horrible cook, mediocre friend, pretty good mom . . . “ Thankfully, I’m reminded that my identity, my legacy, shouldn’t be about me at all. Ever heard Big Daddy’s Weave’s song "Audience of One"? Love the line, “And as the love song of my life is played, I have one desire, to bring glory to your name.” Isn’t it freeing to know nothing else matters?
I think I want my epitaph to simply read, “Daughter of God, Covered in Grace, Finally at home with Him.”