Tragedies such this make us realize just how quickly life can be taken for us. It brings us face to face with our own mortality and the reality that every breath we take could be our last. We question why innocent children had to suffer. We wonder why anyone could do such a thing. We question our beliefs while holding on to our faith. We mourn the senseless loss. We imagine what those children could have achieved. We lament the end of the careers of caring educators who were making a difference. On this December morning, their "dash" ended abruptly; but in the days and weeks to come, we will discover what legacies they left behind.
Linda Ellis wrote a poem in 1996, entitled "The Dash." It spoke of how the sum of our lives are packed into the dash between the date of our birth and and the date of our death. What is the worth of our dash? Did we make a positive difference in the lives of others? Did we love freely, giving more than we sought in return? Did we tell others how important they are to us? The challenge of the message in this poem is for each of us to consider what we are doing with our lives. What do we need to change? How can we make a difference? We can't bring back the earthly lives of the victims of today's senseless tragedy, but we can learn from the lives they lived, and make our own "dash" more meaningful while we celebrate the "dash" of these victims.
I normally use this space to write about issues or ideas facing educators, students or parents. Today's issue may be the most important one I've written about. It is one of the heart, and one we must learn if we are to find something positive to take away from this horrific tragedy. Everyday, each of us has the opportunity to make a positive difference in someone's life. Everyday we have the choice, to be happy...or not. And because we never know when that last moment will be, it is our charge to make our dash the best it can be; to spend time with and hug those we love; to lend a helping hand. Say a prayer tonight for those who lost their lives today and for those who live on. Please use this heartbreaking reminder to make your dash a little more meaningful; to make someone's life more bearable; and to love and laugh a little more often.