Dear Sean

Listen, I’m not a particularly smart man, friend. But then, you don’t have to be smart to know what I know. Life evaporates. It rises toward heaven so quick that you’re lucky if you catch a glimpse.

DEAR SEAN:

My dad died last year and I just don’t really know what to do with myself anymore. I know your dad died when you were my age I think, so how do I be like normal again?

Really hope you write back,
FOURTEEN-IN-VIRGINIA

DEAR FOURTEEN:

I’m the wrong guy to ask about normalcy. I haven’t been normal since the third grade when I peed my pants onstage at a school assembly.

Even our school nurse remarked, “That child’s one rung short of a step ladder.”

She was right. But then, I don’t believe in “normal.” It’s a made-up word. And not that it matters, but I don’t believe in magic beanstalks, pop-stars, Florida Powerball, high cholesterol, or daylight saving time, either.

Years ago, while driving through South Alabama, I saw something. It was an overcast day and the world was colorless. My wife and I had just left a funeral. There was a sadness over our vehicle.

We rode through miles of farmland. My wife yelled, “LOOK!”

I glanced out the window. It was spectacular. I pulled into a cow pasture. We stepped out. We ran through acres of cow pies and green grass.

A rainbow.

And so help me, the colors were touching the ground. The tail was diving into the dirt like a spotlight. I’d never seen anything like it.

The cows watched us with big eyes while we behaved like six-year-olds. We took turns swatting the colors. I don’t know exactly why we did this, but I would’ve regretted not doing it.

Here’s where it gets somewhat magical.

The colors disappeared when I got too close. They reappeared when I took several steps back.

Closeup, they were gone. Far away; voila! The colors were there, but not always visible.

Eventually, the sun came out and the rainbow vanished completely.

We hiked back to the truck. I took in a breath of morning air and I felt like I’d seen a miracle. It’s not every day you see colors from heaven, touching dirt.

My wife cried. I cried. It wasn’t a sad cry. It was the kind you do after a baseball game, or at a surprise birthday party, or when you find a lost dog.

I was thinking of my father. He loved rainbows. And I cried because even though I couldn’t see him up close, I believe he is out there.

Listen, I’m not a particularly smart man, friend. But then, you don’t have to be smart to know what I know. Life evaporates. It rises toward heaven so quick that you’re lucky if you catch a glimpse.

It reaches the top of the world, then it disappears and all we’re left with are gray clouds and rain.

But, if you are fortunate enough to have known a soul who lit up the sky, you can bet you were lucky. And so was I.

And we can thank heaven that we saw the tails of a rainbow—even if only for a moment. A miracle. We can remember their colors, even though we can’t see them.

I guess what I’m saying is: don’t forget your daddy. Cry for him until you can’t. Talk about him too much. Tell his stories. Pull over in cattle pastures to chase rainbows.

And for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t let this world make you normal.

You’re too beautiful for that.

Write me anytime, brother.

38 comments

  1. Sandi in FL. - January 9, 2019 7:10 am

    Sean, these are uplifting words to a hurting young man, and I’m certain he will read amd re-read them many times. Compassion towards others often soothes better than any medicine and also promotes healing in countless ways.

    Reply
  2. Connie Havard Ryland - January 9, 2019 8:37 am

    Beautiful. That’s all.

    Reply
  3. Rogene Martin - January 9, 2019 11:21 am

    Oh what an awsome, blessed experience . Awsome!

    Reply
  4. Rachel Lindsey - January 9, 2019 11:28 am

    One of your better ones. Thanks for putting into words what our soul needs

    Reply
  5. Melissa Shanafelt - January 9, 2019 11:48 am

    Thank you for these words.

    Reply
  6. Elizabeth Edens - January 9, 2019 11:53 am

    You done good! Pretty wise words for such a young whippersnapper!

    Reply
  7. LeAnne Martin - January 9, 2019 12:30 pm

    Such a beautiful experience, Sean. I am all about noticing and enjoying the beauty around us. I love that you and your wife chased the rainbow that day, and I love your description of it now. Thank you!

    Reply
  8. Steve Winfield - January 9, 2019 1:06 pm

    I love you more & more. I hope this guy takes your advice to heart. I passed up a few rainbows that I now wish I hadn’t.

    Reply
  9. Sherry - January 9, 2019 1:08 pm

    Thank you!

    Reply
  10. E Cardin - January 9, 2019 1:16 pm

    Thank you for the inspired words today. They touched my soul as I miss my daddy, who left this earth 9 years ago.

    Reply
  11. Brenda McLaine - January 9, 2019 1:29 pm

    Thank you for this story.

    Reply
  12. Sandra Smith - January 9, 2019 1:40 pm

    I see my Daddy in the Bluebirds.
    I think I saw ONE before he died, but since then….THOUSANDS !!!
    ❤❤❤❤

    Reply
  13. Jess in Athens, GA - January 9, 2019 1:44 pm

    Touching and each of us should look for our own rainbows while we can. You do have a way with words, Sean. Keep writing because you have so many fans out here.

    Reply
  14. SuzanneB - January 9, 2019 1:51 pm

    This story helped my broken heart feel just a little better this morning. I plan to share this with my 14 yr old grandson who lost His father …and who was My son. Thank you !

    Reply
  15. 4Dees - January 9, 2019 2:12 pm

    You made by day, Sean!! Thank you.

    Reply
  16. Becca Allison - January 9, 2019 2:16 pm

    Thank you. I just lost my best friend of fifty five years, a rainbow girl if there ever was one. This piece let me cry for her. You are a wonderful writer. Love you!

    Reply
  17. Kathy Smith - January 9, 2019 2:28 pm

    Great story!

    Reply
  18. Barbara Bray - January 9, 2019 2:33 pm

    I love your stories, Sean….from your heart , to ours …they make the day brighter.

    Reply
  19. Stephanie Godke - January 9, 2019 2:58 pm

    I’m going to remember this one a long long time 👍🏽

    Reply
  20. Tana Newman Branch - January 9, 2019 3:09 pm

    Today is my birthday! What a gift from you. My daddy died when I was 10. I wanted to die too. Thank heavens I did not. I’m 76, have three kids and 5 grandkids I love better than chocolate, a 54 year marriage and many, many students I adore after a 26 year teaching career. I’ve had a great life. And, yeah, I’m one of those Episcopalians! Tell Russell Kendrick “hello” the next time you have a beer!

    Reply
  21. Dale Kocher - January 9, 2019 3:50 pm

    Sean, we were on a cruise ship three years ago in the Cnary Islands off Africa. Wife being sick that morning, so we stayed on ship. A little off shore, but looking at the mountains inland and the beautiful ocean below. Suddenly there was the rainbow. Coming into the water near us. Wow! wow! Yeas, God is great and Good. His features in that rainbow. No one else can do that. I see my family every day in God’s sky. Keep thinking of them.

    Dale

    Reply
  22. Dru - January 9, 2019 3:59 pm

    Sean! Brilliant!

    Reply
  23. Suzanne McElroy - January 9, 2019 4:16 pm

    Sean,

    The entry for today, January 9, 2019 is one of the best I have read. Reading your story via email is a very important part of my day. I read it in the morning when I get to work. On days I am not at work, I read it on my iPad at home.
    My family was blessed to meet you in person when you were in Tallassee at the Mt. Vernon Theatre. I became a fan immediately during your performance. You have a gift for sharing the simple best things of your days and about real life. You are real! I like real! I appreciate that about you most of all.
    Please keep writing! Be kind to yourself. You are somebody to all who know you and read your words. God has a plan for you, and you are living it out today. But He is not finished with you yet!
    And take care of Jamie as she takes care of you. You two show other people how to love, support, and just love each other.

    Happy Day,

    Suzanne

    Reply
  24. Barbara Pope - January 9, 2019 4:17 pm

    Abnormally inspiring!

    Reply
  25. Lovy - January 9, 2019 4:31 pm

    The most beautiful reply I’ve ever read and I read everyday… my 94 year old Mother is on Hospice ( since June!) I can’t wait to read this to her… thank you Sean and I pray Fourteen gets to read it.

    Reply
  26. Debbie Britt - January 9, 2019 4:38 pm

    Sean, you’re right! You’re not normal! You have an amazing gift with everyday things! God bless you!

    Reply
  27. Edna B. - January 9, 2019 5:57 pm

    You’re right. Just knowing our loved ones is a gift. Life is not a guarantee, we are all on loan to our loved ones. Thank you for this wonderful story. Sean, you have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  28. Susan in Wausau - January 9, 2019 7:39 pm

    You, my man, are profound!

    Reply
  29. Shelton A. - January 9, 2019 7:40 pm

    You show wisdom in so many ways; this just one. Who wants to be ‘normal’, anyway?

    Reply
  30. Bobbi - January 9, 2019 9:00 pm

    In the story Fourteen, in this sentence, “ It rises toward heaven so quick that you’re lucky if you catch a glimpse,” the word “quick” should be “quickly.”

    Reply
    • paula jones - January 10, 2019 3:04 pm

      You have GOT to be kidding!

      Reply
    • Sally Edwards - January 11, 2019 1:13 am

      “Quickly” only for the “normal. XOXO, Alabama YaYa

      Reply
  31. Nancy - January 10, 2019 1:47 am

    I could read what you write every second of the day, and not be bored! Some folks would say that is not normal. Who wants to be normal? You have such aspiring words for each and every person in your post. God Bless you, Sean!

    Reply
  32. Father of a fourteen year old boy - January 10, 2019 2:21 am

    Sean, you’ll be hard pressed to top this one. To heck with all those who try and drag you down.

    Fourteen, you hang in there pal, lots of folks are praying for you. Good things will come your way.

    Reply
  33. paula jones - January 10, 2019 3:07 pm

    O.K. This one goes into my file of writings that I want to keep forever. The metaphor of the rainbow is utter perfection.

    Reply
  34. Gaynell Lumsden - January 12, 2019 3:44 pm

    I love you Sean. Thank God you’re not “normal”!!!

    Reply
  35. Margaret Jackson - January 13, 2019 3:59 pm

    Sean,

    This story touched me so much. I am 61 years old. I have lost my Mom, dad, brother and all my grandparents, aunts, uncles. We had no children. It is just my husband and me left. My cousins and I are not very close.
    But when I read about your chasing the tail of the rainbow, it made me cry. I love rainbows and now you have made them even more special to me.

    Keep writing!!!!! You have a special gift from God. I don’t answer very often, even though your words always make me think.

    God bless you!
    Margaret Jackson

    Reply
  36. Anne Trawick - January 15, 2019 1:51 am

    My sister didn’t just touch rainbows; she swung on them.

    Reply

Leave a Reply