Dear Sean

This woman is important to me. I married her when I was young like you. She has contributed more to my life than any single person alive.

DEAR SEAN:

I want to ask this girl to marry me. I am 21, and she is 22, and we are completely in love. Her family is against our wedding and my family isn’t all about it either.

I have had some serious health issues since I was a child and I almost died several times so I know that life is short, more than other people. I asked a pastor what to do and he said it would be disrespectful to our parents to disobey them, but I am so confused, so what do I do? We just want to be together.

Thanks,
VERMONT-GUY

DEAR VERMONT:

First off: You do not need advice. Anyone who has “almost died several times” has already learned things I will never know.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had a few moments when I THOUGHT I was dying. But nothing like you.

I am not kidding. I am predisposed to episodes of something called “vasovagal syncope.” This is just a medical way of saying that I pass out at the drop of a hat. It happens only when I get very freaked out.

People who experience vasovagal syncope experience lightheadedness, nausea, the feeling of being hot or cold (accompanied by sweating), ringing ears, confusion, inability to speak or form words, visual disturbances such as lights seeming too bright, tunnel vision, and (this is a real biggie) RELAXATION OF THE BOWEL MUSCLES. Then these people pass out.

I have passed out a lot. Once when I was a child, a faith healer from Tennessee came through our church. He asked if I “believed.” I told him I did. He did put his hand on my forehead and hissed like a snake.

I hate snakes.

I passed out. When I came to, something was very wrong. My mother took me into the bathroom and—I don’t mean to get too graphic—but my intestinal muscles had majorly relaxed if you catch my drift.

My mother was worried about this. She took me to the doctor. The doc said that I was prone to vasovagal syncope.

He explained that people with this condition often lost consciousness, had minor seizures, and occasionally messed their britches during social settings such as school, the office, or Wednesday night choir practice.

But otherwise, it was nothing to worry about.

Once, I was in a car wreck. The vehicle ahead of me hit the brakes, but the brakelights didn’t work. I rear-ended them. I don’t remember anything else because I blacked out.

When I awoke, I was lying in the median and the paramedics were slapping my cheeks.

One paramedic said, “I’ve got good news and bad news.”

“What is it?” I asked.

“The good news is you’re okay.”

“What’s the bad news?”

He snickered. “It’s called vasovagal syncope.”

“Please take me to the morgue,” I said.

You might think I am kidding. I am not.

One time I was in a thrift store. I was looking at used books. The book I was reading was entitled: “Exotic Animals of the Amazon.” I saw a vivid photograph of a freakish spider.

I began seeing stars. I set the book down. My vision became dim. I felt faint.

I woke up in an ambulance. The paramedic beside my stretcher couldn’t quit laughing long enough to check my blood pressure cuff.

So I am not trying to be crude. What I am trying to tell you is that when you pass out for no apparent reason, your first thought is: “Oh my God, I’m actually dying.”

Every time I’ve passed out, I have seriously believed that I was a goner. And it’s terrifying.

Once, I had a dream after I passed out and I thought I had gone to the hereafter. It was bizarre. There were no people in this dreamlike state. No family, no friends.

It was a weird realm without voices, laughter, or conversation. I was sitting in what looked like my house, at my own dining table, eating breakfast, but my wife was nowhere.

Do you know what I did in the dream? I called my wife’s name. Because in the moments when you think you’re dying, all you care about are your people.

This woman is important to me. I married her when I was young like you. A lot of people said we were making a huge mistake. They were wrong. She has contributed more to my life than any single person alive. My idea of a literal hell would be a world without her.

So there I was, in Vasovagal Purgatory, and I was calling her name. When the blackness faded, I found myself surrounded by medical personnel.

There she was. Her face was looking down at me. A bright medical light behind her head. She was crying. Her tears were falling on my face. And I’ve never been so happy to be alive.

“You scared me,” she said. “Don’t do that again.”

“What happened?” I asked.

She started laughing.

Then the paramedics laughed.

And the policemen laughed.

And the priest.

“Don’t be embarrassed,” she said. “But I brought you a change of pants.”

So I asked the paramedics to kill me by lethal injection.

My friend, I am not an advice giver, so I won’t insult you by pretending to be one. I will simply tell you what I have found to be true. Which is this:

If you can’t live without her, then don’t.

31 comments

  1. Paul Morris - September 10, 2019 7:13 am

    Sean , God gave me 19 years with the only woman that would have put up with me for 19 years. When I didn’t deserve it she stuck by me. I treated her like the precious gift that she was and when God called her home I’ve been adrift ever since. I love that you cherish your wife.

    Reply
  2. Jan Michelle Beaudreau - September 10, 2019 10:19 am

    That was a longggg unusual (and graphic- your words) way around professing your love and connection to your wife!
    She is surely an amazing person to share time with but then, without her own case of v Syncope, I am sure she feels exactly the same way about you. I would imagine you would be there for her, as well.
    With or without her having her own need for a change of clothing while in public or private and esp if some minister guy was snickering about HER physical display re the same diagnosis.
    Who comes up with these diseases and medical challenges, anyway?..
    Yep, I’m with you. If you can’t live without someone,
    DON’T⌛️🥰🎱

    Reply
  3. James Marlin - September 10, 2019 11:00 am

    Six questions:
    Does she love you? Do you love her?
    Can she live with you? Can you live with her?
    Can she live without you? Can you live without her?
    If your answer is yes or “I’m pretty sure” or “I think so” to all six of these questions, then you should marry her!!!
    36 years married to the one I would never want to live without!!!
    Gulfport Pastor

    Reply
  4. Brenda - September 10, 2019 11:02 am

    Amen, Sean.

    Reply
  5. kimmazzellyahoocom - September 10, 2019 11:24 am

    Dear Sean,
    Even your beloved Lewis Grizzard could not make me laugh and cry at the same time like you do! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Reply
  6. Joe Patterson - September 10, 2019 11:33 am

    Thanks again

    Reply
  7. Marilyn - September 10, 2019 11:44 am

    No one else can make a decision for us. I find it interesting that 3 men have responded saying almost the same as what I’m about say – Follow your heart – Vermont Guy!

    Reply
  8. Mary Ellen Hall - September 10, 2019 12:23 pm

    GREAT ADVICE SEAN!!💙❤And I’m SO VERY SORRY about your “Vasovagil Syndrome!!”😢MUST BE HORRIBLE!

    Reply
  9. Dee - September 10, 2019 12:29 pm

    I am so sorry you have this fainting thing! A few years ago I was fainting a lot. The doctors couldn’t figure out why. Last time, I fainted in the grocery store and nearly broke my nose. Very frightening, and embarrassing. Finally I had to get a pacemaker. I have a heart arrhythmia. Fainting is terrifying — especially when you’re behind the wheel. I still get ancy driving here in Atlanta, even though I have not fainted since I got the pacemaker. Try this when you start to feel like you’re going to faint: concentrate on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, slowly. It helps anxiety. I also do EFT tapping for anxiety and it works. Google it. Hang in there my friend!

    Reply
  10. Steve - September 10, 2019 12:36 pm

    Vermont Guy. No one else gets to live your life. Only you. Don’t let others decide what it will be. Advice isn’t always a bad thing, but ultimately you make the decisions that shape your life. “Six Questions” listed in these comments are all the advice you will ever need on marriage. Just make sure she can answer them the same way.

    Reply
  11. Steve Winfield - September 10, 2019 12:45 pm

    I’ve never heard of Vasovagal Syncope.

    Reply
  12. Dianne - September 10, 2019 12:49 pm

    Wonderful advice to this young man, Sean. He is the one who will have to live with her, and vice versa, not their parents. Not to show disrespect to the parents, but there are times in our lives when we have to go with our heart and our gut feeling.

    Reply
  13. Kat - September 10, 2019 1:02 pm

    💕Sean, your last line says it all ! 💕

    Reply
  14. Marge - September 10, 2019 1:33 pm

    I’m surviving these days without my one and only and it’s hard. Don’t wait to be with the one you are meant to be with! Life together goes by in the blink of an eye!

    Reply
  15. Sissy cooper - September 10, 2019 1:43 pm

    My husband and my son have suffered with syncope. It only occurs when they are dehydrated. Drink plenty of fluids especially if you are working, golfing, etc. In the heat.

    Reply
  16. Diane H. Toney - September 10, 2019 2:00 pm

    Our daughter introduced us to you with a Father’s Day gift of one of your books. Since then I subscribe on-line and enjoy. Back in the day I was an English major at UGA and appreciate language. The simplicity and authenticity of your words resonate.

    A little over a year ago, I seemed more nostalgic and sentimental than normal and started writing story after story of my growing-up years in a small town in Georgia in, arguably, the greatest decade : the 50s. Hence, ,my little book, IT WAS WHAT IT WAS. Not a best seller by a long shot, but it seems to have meant something to some readers. Still being purchased……

    Reply
  17. Judy Wilson - September 10, 2019 2:21 pm

    Wow! I learned a lot today and I am old and really don’t know everything. Love your shared thoughts.

    Reply
  18. Karen - September 10, 2019 2:31 pm

    “If you can’t live without her, don’t.” Amen. Best advice I ever heard. Vermont Guy will do the right thing, thanks to you. Thank you.

    Reply
  19. Keloth Anne - September 10, 2019 2:40 pm

    Hope this couple takes your advice♥️♥️♥️

    Reply
  20. Dianne - September 10, 2019 3:45 pm

    Love it!

    Reply
  21. Lisa - September 10, 2019 3:49 pm

    Not everyone who has this condition poops in their pants like you, Sean!! I can faint at the drop of a hat and supply the hat and drop it if I need to but never have I pooped in my pants. Every time I go to the doctor for any reason, I remind them that I have a 99.9% chance of passing out no matter what they do. As for the fella who is in love, Dude you just pray and ask God what HE wants you to do and then completely ignore everyone else.

    Reply
  22. Linda Moon - September 10, 2019 3:57 pm

    Anyone who has cheated death several times has, indeed, learned. I had a childhood friend with “vasovagal syncope”. I wish us kids had learned then that it was a medical condition instead of thinking she was just strange. I’ve only known one other man who used the term “messed their britches”, and I married him! I was young, like you and VERMONT GUY. I hope this guy and you and your wife will live with each other a long time, messy britches and all!!

    Reply
  23. Edna B. - September 10, 2019 4:00 pm

    Wow, I learn something new every day! You have a wonderful day Sean. Hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  24. Carolyn - September 10, 2019 4:21 pm

    Sean, please forgive me for laughing at your
    “little problem” but this is just down right
    H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S‼️🤣 Please say you forgive me.

    Reply
  25. Ronald Burch - September 10, 2019 5:20 pm

    The guy asked for the pastor’s advice. That is okay, but is the pastor someone qualified to give advice in personal (not spiritual) matters? Hey, get an “opinion” from anyone – perhaps Bozo the Clown. But pray to the God you already know and listen. Doctors said I would die from heart disease by age 42. I am now 66 and been married to the most wonderful woman for 38 years. I pray you have a fraction of my blessing.

    Reply
  26. Tim House - September 11, 2019 3:47 am

    Funny though it is, I find this a BEAUTIFUL response. 🙂

    Reply
  27. That's jack - September 11, 2019 1:39 pm

    Dude, you have given some corny advice at times (just sayin’ not wrong but corny. LOL) but since I found the right MATE and I even think you did (bless her heart), but that last line of advice was ‘out of the park’.
    Good stuff.
    Sherry & jack in the land of Sheriff Taylor.

    Reply
  28. Shelton A. - September 11, 2019 2:11 pm

    Wonderful story and great advice (though that word was thoroughly disclaimed). Sorry about your fainting-sounds scary and messy to me, too. God bless you and Jamie (and, of course, the dogs).

    Reply
  29. Dawn A Bratcher - September 11, 2019 5:27 pm

    💖 Oh so true…all that really matters are the people in our lives!

    Reply
  30. Sue - September 12, 2019 7:17 pm

    Love your writing.

    Reply
  31. Jon Dragonfly - September 13, 2019 5:28 am

    You quoted an elderly man who said it best:
    “I couldn’t breathe without her…”

    Reply

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