When the first sliver of light showed, the girl shot to her feet and ran along the beach, waving arms in the air. So did the others.

I’m writing this in the early morning. The birds are asleep, the crickets, too. The sun is about to rise, and it’s going to rise just for you. There is a faint glow behind the trees. Just wait. It’s coming.

I received a letter this morning from a girl I’ll call Caroline. Caroline is eighteen. She told me about herself.

She wrote:

“I feel ugly and I know that’s why I’ve never had a boyfriend… I probably never will have one. People don’t like me, and I’m worried that nobody will ever love me.”

Sweet Caroline.

Here’s another letter from a man we’ll refer to as “Elvis”—because that’s what he wanted to be called. Elvis is forty-four.

He wrote:

“My ex-wife broke my heart… Why is it I end up trusting somebody and they break my heart, and instead of hating THEM, I dislike MYSELF somehow? I don’t like myself…”

And this beautiful young woman:

“I have an arteriovenous malformation… Which is why my arm doesn’t work, and now it’s moving to my leg. The malformation started small, but has grown to the size of a tennis ball, giving me daily seizures and other obstacles…

“The hardest part about all this is being forgotten. I used to have a lot of friends before my diagnosis, but now…

“I get that people are busy, but is life really about being busy?”

Well, I hate to disappoint these good people who’ve written me, but they’re talking to the wrong guy. I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout nothin’.

The only thing I can possibly think to tell these good folks is about what happened to me during my seventh-grade year.

First, a little background: my seventh-grade year was shaping up to be a good one. Often, in the school cafeteria I’d have my pals laughing until milk spilled from their noses and they lost control of their lower intestines.

Then, September 14th happened.

The newspaper reported that my father swallowed the barrel of his hunting rifle. And my adolescent life went to hell. I dropped out of school. I became a faceless nobody—at least that’s how I felt.

I’ll never forget asking my friend’s sister on a date, years later, when I was seventeen. She turned me down. So I tried again. Strike two.

Finally I asked her, point-blank, what was wrong with me.

“Well,” she said. “All that stuff with your family, I don’t wanna be with anybody who might be screwed up.”

Screwed up. How about them tomatoes?

Still, that girl was actually doing me a favor because later that same year, I met another girl. She was a kind soul. She was quirky, outgoing, and she wore mismatched shoes. We never dated, we were only friends.

She was missing her right hand—she lost it in a horrific accident as a child. But this didn’t hold her back. She was a lifeguard, a guitarist, an artist, a comedian.

Late one night—I’ll never forget this—she and her younger brother knocked on my bedroom window. The girl said: “You wanna watch the sun come up?”

“But, it’s midnight,” I reminded them.

“So?” she said. “That means we have six hours. C’mon.”

I joined them on the beach. They brought jugs of coffee, a pocket radio, a deck of cards, potato chips, and blankets. Her brother brought his girlfriend.

For six hours we all sat on the sand. There was no necking, it wasn’t like that. We were friends. Buddies who talked, laughed, sipped Folgers and stayed awake until the sun soared above the mighty Gulf of Mexico.

When the first sliver of light showed, the girl shot to her feet and ran along the beach, waving arms in the air. So did the others.

I thought they’d lost their minds.

She sprinted toward me, grabbed me, and pulled me to my feet.

“C’mon!” she yelled. “This sunrise is JUST for you!”

I felt myself whoop and holler with them. I had no idea what we were so excited about, or why.

I’m older now. My whooping and hollering days are over—unless it’s the Iron Bowl. But right now, you should see what I’m seeing. It’s worth hollering about.

The sun. It’s large. Bright. Yellow. It’s here to wake up the whole world. The skies are unfolding. The crickets are singing about its arrival. The birds are applauding its entrance. I feel warmth on my face.

You’re on my mind. I know it’s hard, but just hold on for a few more minutes, whoever you are. You’re not alone. Look in the sky.

This sunrise is for you.

29 comments

  1. Beth Reed - July 9, 2018 6:21 am

    What a beautiful story Sean. It’s really sad when we all feel unloved or rejected in ways that really hurt us.
    Whether it’s a date or a friend that goes their separate ways some how we are left thinking that it’s something to do with ourselves and not just the fact that we are just going in different directions.
    I think that your right in that the girl did you a favor by not getting mixed up with Her! It’s not you. Hopefully by now she’s learned that all humans are screwed up in some way or another and thankfully you found a true friend with the girl that waited for the sun to rise just for you that special morning.
    For the people who wrote to you I would like to tell them to be comfortable with themselves. Enjoy their own company. Be their own best friend. Start each day with the sun rise that’s just for you.
    Have a great Monday. Hug’s, Beth Reed

    Reply
  2. Mary Talton - July 9, 2018 6:51 am

    Sean, Sean, Sean, you are awesome!!! Just when I think you can’t be any better, or more real…..here it comes! Thank you, for sharing your heart and soul, and experiences with us!!!! Mary

    Reply
    • Glenda H - July 9, 2018 7:16 am

      Sending you love equal to what you project. Thank you.

      Reply
  3. Mart Martin - July 9, 2018 8:29 am

    I like to watch the sun come up every day, even on vacation. Especially on vacation. Until it does, I feel like I have the world to myself.

    There is indeed something special about it. There’s hope in a sun rise, because you can count on it, even when you can’t see it. It’s like something else I know, if you think about it.

    Reply
  4. LeAnne Martin - July 9, 2018 10:44 am

    Sean, bless you for your good words to all of us.

    Reply
  5. Camille - July 9, 2018 10:46 am

    It hit me this morning. Your writings could and very likely have stopped someone else from swallowing the barrel of a shotgun. You and your work are very important.

    Reply
    • Katherine - July 9, 2018 11:44 am

      Yes, Camille, I agree with you.

      Reply
  6. Georgia Peach - July 9, 2018 10:47 am

    Well, here I am at 6:41, been up since 5:25, wondering what’s wrong with ME. I fall into some of those categories and am just waiting for him to get up to see what this day holds. And next week ales 18 years since my high school sweetheart/husband of 22 years passed away. I haven’t found real love since then. It’s got to be me. But now I have that sunrise, peeking over the pine tops and it’s just for me. Thank you.

    Reply
  7. Patty Dickson - July 9, 2018 10:51 am

    Once again, thanks for starting my day in such a nice way. I will await the sun’s arrival in a new way.

    Reply
  8. Pistol Tingen - July 9, 2018 10:53 am

    My favorite part of the day…wherever I may be. Nothing quite like that tranquil, pre-dawn time of the morning, watching the east glow into a beautiful sunrise. Always a special time for me…

    Reply
  9. Steve Baccus - July 9, 2018 11:36 am

    “Woo – Hoo!” Another day – another sunrise….Thanks, Sean.

    Reply
  10. Terri - July 9, 2018 11:52 am

    Dear Sean, the way you bare your soul to us in such a beautiful way, well it touches MY soul. Love you much, Terri

    Reply
  11. Steve - July 9, 2018 11:54 am

    Awesome message.

    Reply
  12. Another pilgrim - July 9, 2018 11:58 am

    Needed this today. Thank you.

    Reply
  13. Susie - July 9, 2018 12:04 pm

    Thank you God for another sunrise, and thank you Sean for reminding us to be thankful.

    Reply
  14. Karen - July 9, 2018 12:52 pm

    Thank you. You are sending a message to the world – You are not alone and you are loved. As Camille said, it is an important message that everyone needs to know.

    Reply
  15. Carol - July 9, 2018 1:01 pm

    Thank you !!
    God sends his message thru to us in different ways and by different people!
    You did today!!
    Love ya !

    Reply
  16. Jeanne Butlet - July 9, 2018 1:34 pm

    So beautiful. Thank you. Needed that todsy

    Reply
  17. Janet Mary Lee - July 9, 2018 2:28 pm

    I will never look at a sunrise in quite the same way! Thank you for being you!! Much love to you and yours…

    Reply
  18. Denise - July 9, 2018 2:45 pm

    This is one of my favorites. Thank you.

    Reply
  19. R. H. Kirkland - July 9, 2018 3:11 pm

    Thank you!! That’s just what I needed today!

    Reply
  20. Bobby - July 9, 2018 4:21 pm

    Simple pleasures are the most memorable.❤️

    Reply
  21. Lylabeth King - July 9, 2018 5:46 pm

    Thanks, Sean. Thanks for writing words that speak to my heart.

    Reply
  22. ponder304 - July 10, 2018 1:17 am

    Sunrise, free, powerful, perfect…….

    Reply
  23. Jack Darnell - July 10, 2018 2:31 am

    I get it, I hope your writers do!

    Reply
  24. Sandi in FL. - July 10, 2018 8:43 am

    To quote William Ward: “Every sunrise is a message from God; and every sunset is His signature.”

    Reply
  25. C.E. HARBIN - July 11, 2018 6:29 am

    I think you might under-estimate your ability of encouragement. You do know sumthin’ ’bout sumthin.
    You give people hope and a reason to be thankful.
    God bless you.

    Reply
  26. Helen (Dothan, AL) - July 13, 2018 3:26 pm

    So sweet! ❤️

    Reply
  27. Angela - July 13, 2018 4:29 pm

    Sean, do you have a way of contacting the young lady with the Arteriovenous Malformation? I had one, too. I’ve had Gamma Knife radiation 4 times to shrink it, and finally had a craniotomy last month to remove it. She is not alone. There are quite a few of us, and we give each other support in a facebook group: the Brain Aneurysm/AVM Community Together Support Association (ACT).

    Reply

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