Birthday Gal

Ring, ring.

I answer. “Hello?”

“Yeah, hi. Is this Sean Dietrich?”

“This is he. Who am I speaking with?”

“Omigosh. My name is Leah.”

“Hello, Leah. You sound very young. How old are you?”

“Omigosh. I’m turning 11 years old in a few days.”

“Wow. Well, happy birthday. And pleased to meet you, Leah.”

“Omigosh. This is so cool.”

“What can I do for you, Leah?”


“Well,” she began, “I don’t really know what to say. I just called because I wanted to, well, to meet you for my birthday wish, so my mom got your phone number so that we could talk.”

“I see. And how did she get this number, Leah? If you don’t mind my asking.”

“Your wife gave it to us.”

“Does your mother know my wife?”

“No, but Mom is friends with your wife’s cousin’s best friend’s aunt’s nephew’s dentist’s landlord’s neighbor’s mechanic’s attorney’s plumber, who lives in Dothan, and goes to Bible study with my mother’s distant cousin in Opp. So my mom texted some people, they found your wife’s number.”

“Small world.”

“Is this a bad time? I can call back.”

“No, Leah, this is a perfect time. How are you doing?”

“Omigosh, okay, I guess. I mean, the doctor says I’m doing okay. So I guess I’m good.”

“The doctor?”

“Yeah. He’s really hopeful.”

“Hopeful about what?”

“That I’m going to go into remission.”


More silence.

“It’s not all that bad, being sick, Mister Sean. Don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t care about losing my hair. The only thing I don’t like is when there’s a little tiny bit of hair left on top my head. That’s why I told my mom to just shave it off because I feel weird, I can’t stand the little patches of hair on a bald head, you know? It just looks stupid.”


“Yeah, so my mom shaved my head with my dad’s razor a few days ago, and I look much better now. I can’t quit touching my head. It feels weird.”


“Can I ask you a question, Leah?”


“What’s going on with you? I mean, why exactly did your mother have to shave your head?”

“Um, ‘cause I’m taking medicine. They’re really strong medicines for my body and they make weird things happen to you, like, you throw up a lot. And your hair quits growing for a while. And sometimes you just don’t want to be awake anymore, because it just feels so bad. But that part’s over now. My lynch nodes are much better.”


“Omigosh! Yes! And I feel great this morning! I have my whole family here in the hospital with me right now because I’m getting a new thing done tomorrow.”

“What new thing are you getting done?”

“It’s surgery.”

“What kind of surgery?”

“It’s some name I can’t pronounce.”

“And are you scared?”

“Of what?”

“Of surgery?”

“Surgery? Me? Omigosh, no way. I’m not really scared of surgery anymore, I’ve had so many them. I mean, when I first had surgery, I was scared. But after you do it one time, it’s just normal, kind of.”


“Well, normal for me.”

“Can I ask you another question, Leah?”


“Why me? Why did you want to meet me?”

“Omigosh, because my mom reads your things on Facebook at night and you’re funny because you’re so, like, I don’t know, weird and quirky, and I just really wanted to know what your voice sounded like.”

“Well, do I sound like you thought?”

“Um. No. You sound younger. I thought you’d be, like, an old man.”

“You’re too kind, Leah.”

“So are you going to write about me now?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Now that we’ve talked? Are you going to write about me? My mom said you probably would. I think you should.”


“If you DO write about me, maybe you can call me by a different name like you sometimes do when you’re trying to keep people’s identity anomalous.”

“Come again?”

“Maybe you could call me some girl’s name from the Bible.”

“Like maybe Esther or Deborah?”

“Um, no, gross. Try again. Hey, I have to go, my mom is wanting to use the phone now.”

“Leah, please tell me one more thing, is there anything I can do for you? Is there anything you want or need?”

“Oh, no, I don’t need anything. I have my mom, my brothers, my dad, and the nurses are so great, and my doctor is so good. People are praying for me. I have everything a kid could want. I’m going to be home in no time soon, and doing all the normal things I used to do. I just have to go through this first. Then I’ll be okay.”

“Happy birthday, Leah.”

“Thanks, Mister Sean. Say a prayer for me, will you?”

Omigosh, Leah. I’ll tell everyone I know.


  1. Melanie - December 29, 2022 6:54 am

    It’s my birthday today, too. Happy Birthday, Leah! Hope you eat lots of cake 🎂 and ice cream 🍨.

    • Nancy Grinstead - December 29, 2022 12:12 pm

      Prayers to Leah and the most positive gal ever!! May your surgery let you get home with your family soon❣️
      Thank you Sean for all your 💔 stories, sure makes my life not so bad💯
      Happy Birthday 🥳

  2. Shannon - December 29, 2022 6:56 am

    Praying for you Leah ❤️

  3. Sheri Ferguson - December 29, 2022 7:06 am

    Leah is in my prayers and in my thoughts. Your style of storytelling just tugs at the heart.

  4. kingswaydaughter - December 29, 2022 7:18 am

    Sounds like Leah has a better handle on life and more resilient than most of us who are not fighting a disease and in the hospital. Blessings and prayers for Leah!

    • Susie - December 29, 2022 2:50 pm

      Amen, Kingswaydaughter, Leah has it all together!!

  5. Debbie - December 29, 2022 7:20 am

    Sweet Leah, you are a very strong little girl. I said a prayer thanking God for letting me know about you. Oh my gosh, I have never met you, but, I love you. ✨❤️👭🥰✨🕊🙏🌹🐕💞

  6. Diane Mark - December 29, 2022 7:35 am

    Amazing JOY you bring to the world Sean Dietrich. Thank you for always being YOURSELF and sharing YOU with all of us ❤️

    • Diana Kinser - December 29, 2022 1:30 pm

      Happy birthday, Leah! You sound like an awesome young lady! I hope your special day is filled with beautiful blessings and some yummy cake! I know the year ahead will be amazing. I used to teach fifth graders that are your age. You sound like you are very smart and caring. I’m praying for you, dear one! Thanks for sharing her with us, Sean. And happy birthday to you, too.

    • Connie - December 30, 2022 12:50 am

      Oh Sean, how God uses you! Prayers for you Leah!

  7. Sandi. - December 29, 2022 8:25 am

    Happy 11th Birthday and a bundle of Get Well wishes to young Leah. And Sean, I recall from a post in 2021 that December 29th is your 40th birthday. So Happy Birthday to you, too!

  8. Ginga Smithfield - December 29, 2022 8:50 am

    Praying 🙏 for Leah!!

  9. Debbie g - December 29, 2022 10:06 am

    Happy birthday Leah we are praying for you
    You sound like an amazing awesome young lady and we love you!!! And our dear Sean happy birthday too we love you and Jamie also !!! And love to all. Pass it on

  10. Jan Fincher - December 29, 2022 10:36 am

    Praying for Leah.

  11. Steve McCaleb - December 29, 2022 11:59 am

    May God bless and keep Leah ( and all those like her). And keep writing those checks to St Jude. We’re on the verge of beating childhood cancer. With God’s grace and tender mercy. Prayers from the wilds of NW Alabama

  12. Ruth Killough - December 29, 2022 12:01 pm

    Praying for you Leah!- Love Ruth

  13. Ernie in River City - December 29, 2022 12:06 pm

    Omigosh. Praying for “Leah.”

  14. Susan - December 29, 2022 12:38 pm

    Prayers for this sweet girl🙏♥️

  15. mccutchen52 - December 29, 2022 12:49 pm

    I will send out a prayer for Leah but something tells me that with that attitude she will be just fine

  16. Melissa Brown - December 29, 2022 1:00 pm

    Omg Sean. I pray this little girl recovers from her cancer. She sounded delightful. Happy Birthday sweet Leah. Praying for you 🙏🙏🙏🙏 !!!

  17. Renee Welton - December 29, 2022 1:05 pm

    Bless you Sean, praying for Leah💝💝💝

  18. Stacey - December 29, 2022 1:32 pm

    Omigosh!!! I’m praying so hard for precious Leah!! You touch so many people’s hearts Sean, even little hearts!💖 Thank you for writing about Leah!

  19. Connie Barnett - December 29, 2022 1:43 pm

    😭😭😭 Sean Dietrich you do such an amazing job, letting us into the lives of so many.🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻We love you and Jamie Martin Dietrich. Keep giving us hope, joy and love…. the world needs more.

  20. Penny - December 29, 2022 1:47 pm

    Thanks Mr Sean for being the writer who encourages so many others with your words!

  21. Dawnie B - December 29, 2022 1:48 pm

    Happy Birthday, Leah! 🎉💕 God, our Father, has you in His hands all the time! I will be praying for you❣️
    Also, Happy Birthday, Sean! You’re the cat’s meow ❣️ Thank you for all the wonderful things you do!

  22. Sean of the South: Birthday Gal | The Trussville Tribune - December 29, 2022 2:06 pm

    […] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]

  23. suzfrew - December 29, 2022 2:08 pm

    Dear Leah, thank you for sharing your story with Mr. Sean! I am praying along with all his friends for you, trusting God for your complete healing. Amen.

  24. Priscilla Rodgers - December 29, 2022 2:09 pm

    Happy birthday Leah and you’re on my prayer list now.

  25. Debbie - December 29, 2022 2:15 pm

    Happy Birthday, Leah! Thank you, Sean, for sharing her call. It certainly touched my heart and the hearts of all your readers. Many, many prayers have been lifted for this sweet child as a result! And, yes, this is a small world full of caring and kindness…. Prayers for Leah… Hoping her New Year is brighter! Life through the eyes of a child is beautiful.

  26. Anne Arthur - December 29, 2022 2:25 pm

    Here we are, praying for Leah. Happy birthday, young lady. May God heal you soon so that you can go back to playing with your friends.

  27. Bobbie - December 29, 2022 2:32 pm

    I never ceased to be amazed at your stories! God knew you’d be an awesome storyteller with a huge heart filled with compassion, a unique sense of humor, a lover of dogs (a true indicator of a good person😊), and a wonderful husband! That’s you, Mr Sean, the whole package 🤗‼️ If not for you we wouldn’t know about all these brave people who so need our prayers!
    They make me realize my problems aren’t so bad. Happy Birthday Leah and Sean💖. I sense that the Lord will smile on you both in the new year. Thanks, as always, for sharing your gift ….what a blessing 👵🏻‼️

  28. pattymack43 - December 29, 2022 2:33 pm

    Praying for Leah’s complete recovery and healing!! Blessings!

  29. Rebecca - December 29, 2022 2:33 pm

    Now that! Tears for this child and many prayers for her and her family. Do you ever follow up Sean to find out how these people that reach out to you are doing?

  30. Cynthia Russell - December 29, 2022 2:47 pm

    PRAYERS GOING UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Darlene Humphries - December 29, 2022 2:50 pm


  32. Jeannine Auth - December 29, 2022 2:51 pm

    Okay, Leah, I’m praying that angels will be camping out in your hospital room and throughout the surgery, making sure that everything is going to be perfect and the cancer will be gone. A famous man named Saint Francis de Sales a long time ago said, “Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present with you.” Isn’t that a cool thought? You might even want to give them names! Anyway, please know I’m praying for you and wishing you a Happy Birthday with all your family and the nurses and doctors who love you. You are something special, Leah!

  33. Susie - December 29, 2022 2:55 pm

    My thoughts are with you, Leah, and I’m thinking with this positive and great attitude you have, you are going to beat this mean cancer. You go, girl!! We’re all pulling for you!!

  34. Karla Meier - December 29, 2022 2:56 pm

    Saying a prayer for Leah – May God wrap his arms around her and continue to guide her medical team to do all they can! May He give her and her family courage, strength and lots of love!! AMEN!

  35. Rufus Ornduff - December 29, 2022 3:04 pm

    How nice to take Her call God bless you.

  36. Ron Mahn - December 29, 2022 3:05 pm

    In HIs Healing Name, Amen

  37. Cynthia - December 29, 2022 3:11 pm

    Wow. That young girl. Tears in my eyes. I’m so glad you wrote about her. Leah. She is amazing. You are amazing…right next to her. Thank you. I’m praying. 🧡

  38. Sheri K - December 29, 2022 3:22 pm

    Happy birthday to Leah! I’m praying for you!! And Sean – happy birthday to you too!! We all love you and Jamie! What a blessing you are to this world!!

  39. RichardC - December 29, 2022 3:25 pm

    Praying for Leah!

  40. Jannie Bryant - December 29, 2022 3:34 pm

    Happy Birthday Leah! Sending prayers for you and your family.

  41. Linda H - December 29, 2022 3:58 pm

    I only have tears right now … lots and lots of prayers, too. God bless Leah, her family and you, Sean, for sharing this with us.

  42. Stacey Wallace - December 29, 2022 4:19 pm

    Thanks, Sean. My husband and I just prayed for Leah. Love to you, Jamie, Marigold, Otis Campbell, and Thelma Lou.

  43. Judy - December 29, 2022 4:26 pm

    Ohnygosh! Is this for real? Just in case Happy Birthday sweetie,, I am praying that your surgery goes well and I can tell you for a fact that your hair will grow back.

  44. rgcurrey - December 29, 2022 4:52 pm

    Sometimes they just hit you. Praying for “Leah.”

  45. Peggy M. Windham - December 29, 2022 4:57 pm

    Praying for Leah!🙏🙏

  46. Patricia - December 29, 2022 5:23 pm

    Happy Birthday, Leah! You sound like a special little girl…my prayers are with you in this journey you are on! May God hold you close in comfort and peace! May He heal you as only He can!

  47. David - December 29, 2022 5:28 pm

    Praying for Leah. Happy Birthday sweet gal!! Your outlook gives us all hope. God bless you.

  48. Suzanne - December 29, 2022 6:14 pm

    What an amazing little trooper you are, Leah! You might not know this, but reading your phone interview with Mr.Sean has given all of us readers a very good lesson in how the power of positivity can really work! You are so upbeat and confident, Leah, that reading your words has caused hundreds of adult readers to examine their own outlook on life. Would it surprise you to know that hundreds of adults want to ‘be like you’? Well, it’s very true, or I wouldn’t have written it down, as I am a retired teacher and you know what THAT means: It means that I can spot a special, gifted, beautiful spirit in a child, and my dear Leah: you have all those things. You are a shining girl, and prayers are being lifted up for you by hundreds of Mr.Sean’s readers…Your bright spirit has shone a light onto us readers, and has taught us adults a valuable lesson. Bless you, dear Leah, and my Angels attend you as you heal and grow healthy!

  49. Kay W - December 29, 2022 6:56 pm

    Happy birthday Leah. I’m praying that your surgery goes extremely well, that your doctors are guided by divine hands, and that your life is full of joy.

  50. Celia - December 29, 2022 7:19 pm

    Thank you for listening to Cancer patients…especially young children. They have such marvelous attitudes and are so inspirational. Happy Birthday, Leah; I’m praying for you.

  51. AlaRedClayGirl - December 29, 2022 7:21 pm

    Prayers and birthday wishes to Leah and a big Happy 40th Birthday to Sean!!

  52. Moody Jim - December 29, 2022 7:28 pm

    Sean, “Leah” is a perfect choice for a Biblical name for this sweet, young, and courageous girl. Both of them are favored by God, then and now. Many prayers for her and her family. Happy Birthday to both of you🎉💪🎉🙏🙏

  53. Ellen C. - December 29, 2022 9:29 pm

    Oh what an incredibly brave child!!! God Bless you Leah! I can’t wait to hear that you are completely cured!!!!

  54. BARBARA REYNOLDS MAYO - December 29, 2022 9:40 pm

    Tears. Prayers for Leah and her family and medical team.

  55. Linda Moon - December 29, 2022 9:44 pm

    Hey, Leah, I know how you feel. I’m not a girl…I’m a grown woman who will be having a my fourth cancer surgery soon, and I had what seems like the umpteenth treatment earlier today. I’m glad Sean is telling everyone he knows to pray for you. I just did. And I bet you’ll grow up to be a wonderful woman!

  56. Patricia Gibson - December 29, 2022 10:47 pm

    Prayers for Leah!

  57. MAM - December 29, 2022 10:53 pm

    Happy Birthday, Leah, with prayers attached. And Happy Birthday, Sean. You, too, always have our prayers and thank yous for your always inspiring writing! And Happy New Year to all.

  58. Sharon Esco - December 29, 2022 11:37 pm

    Happy birthday Leah! Prayers for your healing and going home so you can do all the things you love to do. I absolutely love your attitude and your heart. God bless you.

  59. William J Webb - December 29, 2022 11:42 pm

    🙏🙏🙏🙏 lots of Prayers for this brave young lady. And may she have ave a very happy birthday.

  60. Karen - December 29, 2022 11:48 pm

    Happy Birthday to Leah. I am keeping her in prayer. Sean, I hope you see that you are a blessing to so many. Leah is proof of this.

  61. Karen Grant - December 30, 2022 12:02 am

    Prayers for Leah! And, Happy Birthday to you, Sean!

  62. Leigh Langdon - December 30, 2022 2:42 am

    Oh my goodness Sean! I KNOW you wrote this for Leah and ME too, bc I’m Leigh but my dad calls me Leah (from the Bible). I am a regular at all the hospitals in Birmingham, bc I’m chronically ill. I know exactly what baby girl Leah means! There’s nothing that scares me about my health anymore. I am just scared of one thing and that is not getting to be with Jesus when it’s my time. I’m worried I’m not good enough. I’m 52 and have two sons. I used to ask God to let me live until my oldest son Cash was 19, so he could take care of my youngest. Now, Cash is 26 and James 17. I know it would be sad for them to lose there mama. I am James’s only parent. He has a LOT in common with you. Cash does too bc he’s a musician! And, I wb 53 Jan 9th! But, most ppl think I’m younger bc I never actually became an *official adult. I still live in an apartment and have a box of my books as a bedside table. Little Leah is a brave little angel and I am going to pray for her too! Praying and being sick, but incapable of dying are the only things I can do well! My health is like the scary parts of The Book of Revelations. I have been brought back to life 4 times! I know that must mean God still has a plan for me, but I fear I’m a bit too dumb to figure it out. SO, Sean…can we both pray for Leah and can you pray for my sons Cash and James? I’ve got about 1 million ppl praying for me, so I feel bad to ask for myself, but my sons? I beg you to esp. pray for James. He dropped out of highschool beginning of 9th grade and feels so bad about himself. He’s got the biggest heart in the world! He was just so afraid to come home to a dead mama, so he would never go to school. Thank you Sean and Jamie too! I found you after reading a Cormac McCarthy book. Audible or the library put you as next recommendation. I’m reading all your funny, fantastic, and sometimes sad words. Since I was raised in Mobile, so much you say is familiar to me! I KNOW exactly where Moab is! I loved the “Winston” book and gave my youngest a new hardback one for Christmas and Cash’s girlfriend Holly is getting the “bike trail” book bc that crazy girl did that LAST YEAR! Okay, I’m sorry I wrote so much, but just so you know-my Aunt and cousins live in Dothan and my mom’s husband is from Headland, My niece is that freakish breed of genius known as a Math and Science (advanced) teacher in Vestavia and my sister is the librarian for the middle school. My SISTER can find anything as she is a librarian. I am nothing, but a mother to two perfect sons. The end, God bless and keep you always, Leigh

    • Marie - December 30, 2022 1:22 pm

      Leigh, you don’t have to be “good enough”, I hope you know that!! Because Jesus was perfect and died for you and me!! Just believing in Jesus’ death and resurrection, confession of our sin and imperfection, and acceptance of Jesus as Savior is all you need. Praying for you!!

      • Leigh Langdon - January 7, 2023 7:43 am

        Thank you Marie. Prayers are everything to me, so thank you! I am good at suffering, praying and receiving prayers! Those are my skills. This little angel hopefully has a long and pain free life ahead. She and you are in my prayer notebook. Isn’t it a miracle to have our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? It’s my greatest blessing and when he sends angels like you! Thank you, Leigh

  63. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - December 30, 2022 3:44 am

    I just said a little prayer for Leah! It’s wonderful that she wants to meet you. You make people feel cared for and that is important. God bless you!

  64. Charly Roper - December 30, 2022 3:53 am

    Praying for Leah in NC

  65. Sandy - December 30, 2022 4:32 am

    You have my prayers Leah. You’re a very special young lady.

  66. denise - December 30, 2022 3:00 pm

    TY, Sean, for being the kind man I know you are. You did it also for a friend of mine in Penscola. You didn’t have to, but you did. God keep you & Jamie safe. God bless you.

  67. cordellg52 - December 31, 2022 3:18 am

    I’m praying for you, Leah.

  68. pdjpop - December 31, 2022 11:19 am

    That’s a good one!.
    Leah, you have a fan in Fairhope. Another prayer warrior on line.
    Sean, thank you.

    • Nancy G. - December 31, 2022 5:32 pm

      Prayers, love and peace, Leah. You are going through a lot right now, but we are all connected so, thank you for being such a bright light for us in the year 2023. I know you are fine now and forever.

    • Leigh Langdon - January 7, 2023 7:45 am


  69. suzi - January 1, 2023 12:46 pm

    Praying for you Leah🙏🏼

  70. DiAn - January 2, 2023 5:23 pm

    Yes, Leah – Happy Birthday! Thank you, Lord, for Leah, for her healing, for giving all of us Life and for this opportunity to pray for her and for us. And thank you, Lord, for her biblical name! And thank you for all that You have showered down upon each of us to allow us to live on this planet together with each other – warts and All! AMEN!!

  71. Brenda S French - January 11, 2023 10:27 pm

    Crying here in Virginia, Prayers for Leah and her family. Sean I am reminded every time I hear your name that you are so much more powerful than you realize. Looking forward to March 24 at the Opry.

  72. Bill - April 9, 2023 6:28 am

    Happy Birthday, Leah! I pray that you are happy and doing well.


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