What Does Your Dash Mean?

When I go home to Michigan in October, one of my first stops is Reese.  The small community I grew up in and where my heart holds many dear memories. 

I go to the graveyard on the outskirts of town.  Here in this sacred place is where my Father’s headstone is located under a tall pine tree.  As I talk out loud to him, typically through tears, I look at the dash.

The dash between his birthdate and his last day of life.  Those two dates are something we all have in common.  As I continue to age and acknowledge life in a different lens, the in-between these two dates appear to matter most. As we all live this one life, I continue to ask myself and those around me these simple, yet reflective questions:

Are you happy?

How are you going to live?

Are you inspired?

My dad was my superhero.  Both he and my mom gave me the gift of life.  As many of you know, my father was diagnosed with cancer at the age of twenty-eight and died two years later.  Boldly after his death and into my adult life, with fire in my belly and without a doubt in my mind, I was going to outrun life. 

Luckily, I am still running at forty-six years old. 

When I am in Reese, several people stop me on the street and say, “Aren’t you Tom Hogan’s daughter?” They too share how he was one of the most charismatic and fun-loving souls they had ever met.  Spirited. Motivated. Fearless. Mischief-maker. I can’t help but feel those messages are him saying, keep going, Shan ..you are on the right path.  Never give up!

That is his continued legacy.

As I type, the lump in my throat chokes me up.  The tears trickle down.  I miss the man, who was my father for a momentary eleven years.  This emptiness never goes away, however his love and memories fill the void.  Plus, my two adult sons look and act like him in so many countless ways.

What I have “finally” realized.  I have the full capacity and potential to live out my best life.  We all do. As I continue to make my dash mean something, never will I squander what has been provided to me.

What are you going to do with this one life you were given?

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