Thursday, July 24, 2008


Death & Dying. What do you think about when you think of these words? It probably makes you think about the friends and family members that you have lost. I am sure that you start to think of the joyous memories that you shared with them, and then because you are human, hurt and pain fills your head and heart. Death is probably the hardest thing that anyone will have to deal with, and the fact that everyone who lives will die, makes it a universal issue. NO matter if you are BLACK, White, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian, Pacific Islander, or any other race and ethnicity, if there is nothing else that we have in common, we all will deal with death, and there is nothing that anyone can do to change the fact that death is promised to come your way.
Death denotes the end of life as we know it here on earth, it brings sorrow and pain for those loved ones left behind. For a very long time, actually up until this week, I hated the thought of death, and definitely hated thinking about my loved ones, and even myself, dying one day. Then this week and last week happened. Two people who were dear to my heart, someone whom I grew up with and worked with unexpectedly died, and then someone who I befriended in the ninth grade and have grown closer to each and every year since then, unexpectedly died. They both were under 30, neither was sickly, both were healthy young adults who were here, living thier lives, and then just like that, they were gone from this world, here no more. Never will I be able to call, see, or hug neither one of them. 
    Now this was not the first time that someone that I held near and dear to my heart died, and it won't be the last, but these deaths did something to me, and it was something very positive. It made me think about the dash. Some of you may have no clue about what I am talking about, but we all have a dash. The dash that I am referring to is the time spent here on earth from the moment that you are born, to the moment that you die. December 28, 1984 - date unknown. This is what will go on my tombstone and my obituary, of course with the end date filled in, but that short dash denotes everything that I have done with my life, and the good part about the dash is that we all are the authors of our own. You do not pick your birthdate and you do not pick your death date (unless of course you commit suicide, and even then you dont have complete say in that) but the one thing that you do have control over is the time that you are here. What will your dash say?

Khia "K-Swift" Edgerton 10/19/1978 - 7/21/2008
The ultimate Club Queen was 29 years old and her dash probably reads longer than many people twice her age. This Baltimore native molded, shaped, and formed her own dash. She did not leave it to anyone else to live her life for her, and she most certainly made that dash work in her favor. Swift grew up in City Temple of Baltimore Baptist Church, and it was there that she grew into the determined, successful, god-fearing woman that allowed her to become the pioneering dj that became known to the world as "THE CLUB QUEEN K-SWIFT." She was known across the country for her dynamic djing capabilities, and loved by all that moved to the music that came off of her turntables. She has been featured on a MTV music documentary, she performed at clubs up all up and down the east coast, and she was scheduled to tour overseas this year.
On the evening of her death, I sat and looked out of the window of the studios, ironically, it was the same time that she would normally be sitting in that chair doing her nightly show with her partner Squirrel Wyde, and there were hundreds of young people in the Baltimore and surrounding communities there to pay tribute to this young woman. Khia reached these young children with her music in ways that amazed many. Since she was 17 years old, she was a member of the Radio One 92Q family, and for the past five years she has been an immensely popular DJ with a radio show that aired from 6pm to 10 pm Monday thru Friday. Her dash was definitely all but short, she had a passion for music and she had been perfecting that passion since the age of 11.
Michael Christopher Strickland 2/24/1984 - 7/15/2008
Mikey was one of the calmest, coolest, and loving friends one could ever have. He was just 24 years old, and was a victim of today's violence. Even though the time surrounding his dash was short, his dash was anything but short. Mike grew up in Baltimore County, and he attended the best high school that Baltimore has to offer, the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. During high school Mike got a chance to go and visit his older brother who went to school down in Atlanta. It was then that Mike knew that he wanted to move to Atlanta to be with his older brother and to attend Clark Atlanta University. A little while later he transferred to Georgia State University. This fall Mike was scheduled to receive his Bachelor of Science degree. Beacuase Mike was always so eager to succeed and make money, which he loved to do, Mike got his real estate license while he was in college. He joined his parents in thier real estate company, Strickland Realty, in 2004 as a licensed real estate agent. He was the epitome of a self-starting successful young man, and whenever he put his mind to something he did everything in his power to finish it. I admired and loved that about him. He never knew that he would only live to see the age of 24, yet he lived his life as if tomorrow was not promised.
After sitting through his funeral today, sad and not understanding why he had to go so early with so much life to live, I realized that we are not promised to live a certain amount of years. So I promised myself and God that from today on, I would be the author of my dash. When the pastor does my eulogy he/she will have so much good to discuss that they will have to pull him from the pulpit, my obituary will be all but short. I took the time to write this to let everyone know that your dash is all that you have control of, no matter what circumstance that you are in, or situation that you were born into, you and only you are responsible for the legacy and story that you leave behind. MAKE GOOD CHOICES AND DONT BE AFRAID TO DO WHATS IN YOUR HEART...YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOUR DASH WILL END.

The Dash Poem
by Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speakAt the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone From the beginning… to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth And he spoke the following date with tears, But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own; The cars, the house, the cash, What matters is how we live and love And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard. Are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left, That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough To consider what’s true and real And always try to understand The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger, And show appreciation more And love the people in our lives Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect, And more often wear a smile Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read With your life’s actions to rehash Would you be proud of the things they sayAbout how you spent your dash?


Kyana said...

i've never read that poem before but it relates to comment that i often make. when speaking about someone's success (or the lack thereof) i always say "u will be judged not by what you have done, but by the legacy you leave behind." not quite sure where i first heard that, but it has a permenant relevance. while it is important that you define your dash and make the most of it, it is also important that your dash affects someone else's. this is especially true in the black community bc we do not have to look too far back in our lineage to see the struggle of just trying to survive. but now our generation, that was birthed out of the struggle and blessed with the opportunities to reach the sky's limits, has to make sure that we are making a difference for those coming up behind us the same that it was done by those before us.

Anonymous said...

i liked your made me think twice of how im in control of my life {& my destiny and fate}. Also, of how I live and need to make changes!!!

Jenell said...

My heart is saddened by the passing of such young, successful talents like KSwift and Michael. Kyana is absolutely right and this blog entry highlights that we are the creators of our own destiny, as evidenced by the life story of these professionals who died too soon. My hope is that someone will be inspired enough to reactivate his/her own dream and pursue it relentlessly until it is a reality and an inspiration to the next dreamer. My prayers go out to all who knew them.

Chinara said...

love the post Jen....What's the saying, "If i can help someone as i pass along, then my living shall not be in vain."
In regards to the dash, the most important part of the dash is what you do for christ while you are here on this can have 3 degrees, feed the homeless, tutor underprivileged youth, but if you aren't doing it in God's doesn't matter. life is too short to not have dreams or not to help others accomplish their dreams....but its also too short to not acknowledge the Man who turns our dreams into reality.

Latrice said...

I absolutely LOVE this post. I'm deeply saddened by Mike, Swift and a friend of mines in Miami, Tee's death; all within the 10 days. I've never thought of the dash before when seeing someone's tombston/obituary. I now am going to step outside the box and re-evaluate my dash.