I was at my grandmother’s house. The date was July 29, 1981, and my mom, grandma, and I were in her living room gathered around the large console TV. It was South Carolina in the middle of the summer, and she only had a single window unit AC.
I don’t remember the heat or anything else to be honest. We were glued to the TV. Prince Charles and Princess Diana were getting married. It was the wedding of the century. I think most people in America were intrigued by the pageantry of it all.
Although most people would gladly have watched Diana do something as mundane as washing dishes, this was something more. We felt like we were part of history; we were watching a fairy tale brought to life. In hindsight, we know that was far from the truth. But we were innocent back then.
This past Monday I watched more of the pomp and pageantry. The bells still tolled, the horses and soldiers still marched, but it was different this time. It wasn’t about possibilities and the future; it wasn’t a happily-ever-after. It was about a job well done. Honoring the service of 70 years on the throne, the life of the longest serving monarch in Britain’s history.
My daughter Madi is studying music in London right now through her university. She has witnessed part of this time in history from a front row seat or certainly one closer than mine. Right after the announcement was made, Paul and I felt like she and her friends didn’t completely understand the significance of what the country felt for no other reason than they are so young. We suggested she watch an episode of The Crown to get a better feel of the historical impact.
As timing would have it, Madi ended up watching the first episode on Monday. It covered Elizabeth’s marriage to Phillip. She happened to watch it on the same day the funeral was held. Both the marriage and the funeral were held at Westminster Abbey. The dichotomy of what Madi was witnessing was significant. When she and I talked, it made me think of the poem by Linda Ellis, The Dash.
In the poem, a man is speaking at the funeral of a friend. “He noted that first came the date of birth, and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.”
Each dash also looks very different. I will never host dignitaries from around the world. I will never run a country or anything of the sort, but there might be more similarities than we realize: families and friends to love; strangers to befriend; interests, hobbies, the beauty of the world around us.
Still thinking of the dash, I realized some are long, and some are much shorter obviously; we just never know. It seems like a very good thing though. Not long ago Paul and I were invited to a wedding, and I thought that would be good motivation to try to lose 5 - 10 pounds. I had a deadline. I knew when it was, and somehow I just kept putting it off. I remember saying to him on the day of the wedding, “I need to lose 10 pounds by 2:00 this afternoon.”
Since I don’t know the length of my dash, I’m going to pretend it ends today and pray it doesn’t end for a long, long time. I hope that’s the case because there’s a lot of kindness to be sown, a lot of life to be lived and a lot of love to be given, and if I don't know how long I've got, I stand a better chance to get to work on it all right now.