Love, Loss…and Living Your Dash

Love, Loss…and Living Your Dash

At her grandmother’s funeral, Liz Zieky says, her mother read a poem titled “The Dash.” Linda Ellis’ 1996 poem begins:

“I read of a man who stood to speak/ At the funeral of a friend/ He referred to the dates on the tombstone/ From the beginning to the end./ 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.”

“How you live your dash” — how you spend that span of time between birth and death — became something of a family motto for Zieky, her husband, Jon, and their four sons — Jake, Connor, Alex and Chase, ages 29 to 23. She even got a tiny tattoo of a dash on her finger.

Zieky, who owns Coco Lily, a clothing, jewelry and housewares shop in Avon, says their close-knit family was good at living their dash. “We’ve had great times together. But all of a sudden, we just got hit hard.”

This past Nov. 4, son Connor, who was sharing an apartment with a cousin in Chicago, came home after a long day of partying with a mix of Xanax and alcohol. He ate a pizza before going to bed — and didn’t wake up in the morning. “Xanax and alcohol can make your heart stop,” Zieky says. “They pressed their luck. Connor always lived on the edge.”

Zieky’s mother read the poem again, this time at Connor’s funeral, and Zieky says the family wanted to spread the message of how Connor had lived his life. “We were talking about what we were going to do. We felt like we wanted to give back to everything Connor loved. It was our way of dealing with it and keeping busy.”

Zieky’s nieces are Emily and Ashley Green, creators of the renowned Emily and Ashley jewelry line. The New York-based designers, originally from West Hartford, created 14-karat gold medallion charms with tiny dashes — of white diamonds, black diamonds or gold on gold.

By New Year’s Day, Coco Lily had sold more than 100 of them, with all profits going to the Connor Scott Zieky Foundation (

The foundation already has donated $10,000 to Shatterproof, a national nonprofit that helps people combat addiction, and Zieky says donations will also go to help the homeless. “Connor could never go by a homeless person without giving them money,” she says. “We don’t want to make it about how he died. We want to make it about how he lived, and how he touched people’s lives.”

“We lived our dash, and we have to continue to live our dash, even though it is so hard without him.”

The “Live Yours” charms include a dash of white diamonds on 14-karat white gold ($520), black diamonds on white gold ($480), gold on gold ($350) and silver on silver ($150), with other designs being developed. A copy of the poem, purchased from the poet’s website, is included. The charms can be purchased at Coco Lily, 17 W. Main St., in Avon, or ordered via email,

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