It's not about the dates on either end, but rather the dash in between.

For that dash in between is what really counts, if you know what I mean. It is what reminds us of all the great, wonderful memories we have of the departed and how that person lived his life, even up till the end.

Lifeguard Ben Carlson died doing what he loved, and as a hero. He was more than willing to drop anything to be there for a friend — or even a stranger.

That dash may seem small, but it represents more than any words could describe. It really represents how we each live our lives.

What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash. If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash might last only a little while. You know what that dash is worth, what that dash represented and what that dash truly meant from birth.

So I encourage you to not mourn Ben's death, but rather to celebrate his life on Earth. He watched over us from the lifeguard tower. Now he continues his watch — but with a greater and higher view.

Rest in peace, brother. You'll never be forgotten. One Love!

JASON LEFTIGE is a Newport Beach firefighter and paramedic and close friend of lifeguard Ben Carlson. They went on countless calls together. Leftige's epitaph was inspired by a poem by Linda Ellis, "The Dash."