Dear Sean

“I read all your books when I was in the hospital,” the boy said. “I kinda got to know you, and it was kinda like we were friends.”

I am going to answer a few messages I have gotten from actual young people who have taken the time to send me their thoughtful questions.

This idea was sparked by the letter I received from Dillon (age 9), whose mother gave him my books for his birthday. His mother used a Sharpie to mark out two words in the book.

These words weren’t cuss words, I might add. Because, as any Methodist preacher will tell you, both of these words are found in the Bible. True, the words weren’t originally intended to describe my cousin, Ed Lee, but they work in this context.

DILLON: Sean, Elvis is my new hero now because my grandma and grandpa like him, I’ve been downloading his music a lot. Do you like him, too?

A: Dillon, yes. I love Elvis, just like any red-blooded American boy. I once attended a Baptist Fourth-of-July picnic dressed as Elvis. I wore a rhinestone jumpsuit and everything. I had to be rebaptized that next week.

My favorite song is, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” It makes me cry every single time. I once sang it for the funeral of a very special person.

ADRIANNE (age 10): Do you ever go to people’s houses and teach them how to write about dogs?

ME: There’s a first time for everything.

SARAH (age 19): I want to study journalism, what should I do to prepare for this?

ME: Sarah, never under any circumstances do a Q-and-A and try to pass it off as serious writing. It’s what lazy people do, and it’s tacky.

BILLY (age 9): I have a dog, but how many dogs have you had? Mine is a Yorkie Poo and we thought it was a girl dog, but he’s not.

ME: I’ll have to do some counting. One, two, carry the four… I have had twenty-one dogs. Wow. I didn’t realize I was so old. Thanks for making me feel like I have one foot in the grave, Billy.

CHELSEA (age 12): You came to my school and told us a story about when you pooped your pants on a boat, was that for realz?

ME: Chelsea, every word of it was for realz.

LANEY (age 12): Nobody in my class likes me and my mom said you should give me advice cause you do that.

ME: Here’s my advice. Go to school and pretend you LOVE everyone. Seriously. Act like everyone you see is your best friend in the whole wide world, even if you don’t mean it. Treat them like they’re kings and queens. Do this for a week. Then write me back.

HART (age 11): I had to write you… I get to be all alone feeling sometimes… When did you stop missing your dad after he died?

ME: Hart. I didn’t. You and I are brothers. Keep writing me often.

MIA (age 10): What’s the best food you have ever ate?

ME: Fried chicken. Or barbecue. Or the bacon-cheese chicken salad from Chicken Salad Chick. That stuff is like crack. But don’t tell your mom I said crack. It’s not in the Bible.

ANDERSON (9 but almost 10): Thank you for talking at my school for assembly my teacher is boring but I thought you were cool. I’m weird, but I think I’m cool too.

ME: I was a weird child, Anderson. Now I’m a weird adult who many people would call boring.

CHADLEY (age 15): My dog, Cooper, died on Wednesday, but he was really old, but as old as me when I was born, but he was a rescue and my best friend. He remembered me from when I was a baby.

ME: Dogs never leave us. Not even after they die. They are too loyal for that. Cooper is happy right now.

JENNIFER (age 8): My dad read your story to me for bed and he said we could write you… Do you really want to be a squirrel when you die and come back to be alive? And if so, why?

ME: Yes. Have you ever seen a squirrel jump from one tree branch to another? Now imagine that squirrel was wearing a rhinestone Elvis jumpsuit. I rest my case.

ELENA (age 17): This guy I like keeps trying to ask me out, and I really do like him, and he’s a decent guy, but what if he breaks my heart?

ME: That’s what hearts were made for. My father used to say something like: “The only way to avoid mistakes is by having lots of experience. And the only way to get experience is by making lots of mistakes.” I don’t know where he got that, but I always liked it.

TIMOTHY (age 14): Can I hang out with you? It sounds like we are just alike and would be friends I am mostly at home by myself when my mom’s working and I like fishing so there’s that.

ME: Send me your address.

REYNOLD (age 62): My granddaughter is going to graduate high school this year and could use a few words of encouragement. My wife and I are raising her ever since her mother, our daughter, died the same way your dad did. My granddaughter’s name is Rachel.

ME: Dearest Rachel.

“When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high. And don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm is a golden sky. And the sweet silver song of a lark.

“Walk on through the wind. Walk on through the rain. Though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on. With hope in your heart.

“And you’ll never walk alone.”

Never.

36 comments

  1. Christy Taylor - October 23, 2019 4:13 pm

    Please, please, please for the love of Elvis and BBQ don’t ever stop doing what you do. I am so happy I found you and your musings.

    Reply
  2. Ala Red Clay Girl - October 23, 2019 4:19 pm

    “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” beautiful song by Gerry & the Pacemakers that is excellent advice for graduates or anybody.

    Reply
  3. Harriet - October 23, 2019 4:25 pm

    Just WOW. The end of the story… I really hope Rachael feels like she never walks alone. Peace.

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  4. Brenda - October 23, 2019 4:33 pm

    You were late today, I was so worried

    Reply
  5. Darla - October 23, 2019 4:38 pm

    Sean, you are truly a good and kind human. In a sea of what can seem like self serving, self centered, self entitled folks you give me hope every day. Hope … the very thing that keeps a heart beating. Thank you!

    Reply
  6. Sharon Lawson - October 23, 2019 4:46 pm

    Sometimes I hesitate to delete your columns after I’ve read them. This column is definitely one of those. Spoke to my heart.

    Reply
  7. Susan Kennedy - October 23, 2019 4:50 pm

    This is perfect. 💙

    Reply
  8. Connie Havard Ryland - October 23, 2019 5:05 pm

    Dang it Sean. I am smiling through tears. You do that a lot. Beautiful column today. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  9. Steven Paul Bailey - October 23, 2019 5:17 pm

    Good Stuff.

    Reply
  10. Chasity Davis Ritter - October 23, 2019 6:24 pm

    Right and now I have the leaky eyes again. When I read the first letter that said You’ll never Walk Alone was your favorite Elvis song i went right to YouTube so I could listen to it. I was sitting in the back yard in the Fall sunshine and it was a beautiful moment and song. Made me miss my Dad which I’ve been doing a lot lately anyway (well all the time) and then I go back to finish your blog and I get to the last letter and I start reading the very lyrics of the song I just listened to. I know I’m not alone…. but I will always miss my Dad.

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  11. Chasity Davis Ritter - October 23, 2019 6:26 pm

    Amen!! I’ll second that.

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  12. Julie P. - October 23, 2019 6:32 pm

    Just beautiful! Thank you. <3

    Reply
  13. Gloria Knight - October 23, 2019 6:33 pm

    You are so kind to take time to answer these young people. And I had tears in my eyes when you included the words of that song. I can hear Elvis singing it now….

    Reply
  14. Judy - October 23, 2019 6:34 pm

    You may have thought this was a lazy type of Journalism but I disagree. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  15. Darlene - October 23, 2019 6:42 pm

    Through my tears of joy and sorrow for the concerns of these wee babes, I have to tell you that you are the best person I know. You are golden in my book, in any book. You just keep on doing what you are doing, you will never know how many you have touched and how many you have changed – I can’t wait to get an update on how well you advice worked for Laney and if you continue to hear from Hart. I just listened to Elvis singing You’ll Never Walk Alone. It did me so much good, as I feel that I do, quite often.

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  16. Linda Moon - October 23, 2019 6:50 pm

    I’m so glad to hear that actual young people have actual thoughts and questions. And, that his hero is one of grandma’s and grandpa’s: Elvis. I have a semi-hero, or at the least, an intriguing hero, also named Dillon/Dylan/Zimmerman/Zimmie who wrote with a sharpie in one of my books – his autobiography. I also like Anderson’s reply, with the exception of one word: boring. But the words from Reynold and your reply to Rachel made me think of that favorite song I learned in 5th grade music class and have had to learned to live the lyrics many, many times. Your words, Sean, often help me live out those lyrics! And one more thing, Sean and Hart…I will always miss my dad, too.

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  17. Marilyn Ward Vance - October 23, 2019 7:11 pm

    Yep!

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  18. Susan I Gleadow - October 23, 2019 7:45 pm

    Good one! Course they all are!

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  19. Lois Oleson - October 23, 2019 8:22 pm

    Good writing Sean! You are a gift to many people young and old! Love the song!

    Reply
  20. Elizabeth - October 23, 2019 8:25 pm

    Wow! One of your best!

    Reply
  21. Melinda Jones - October 23, 2019 8:36 pm

    Smile, smile, chuckle……last line😭

    Reply
  22. Marilyn Warner - October 23, 2019 8:39 pm

    My mother passed away 2 weeks ago today….I needed to read those last few sentences…Thank you

    Reply
  23. Nancy - October 23, 2019 8:53 pm

    Tissue time. Kleenex, not Charmin.

    Reply
  24. Bel Crowell - October 23, 2019 9:50 pm

    Thanks, Sean. That seems so small, but there is a lot of feeling in that word. You can make my day by just writing. Don’t ever stop writing, Sean.

    Reply
  25. Tim House - October 23, 2019 10:16 pm

    I remember “You’ll Never Walk Alone” originally from “Carousel”, myself, but Elvis did it well. One of my favorites, too. The dam broke, in my eyes on your last answer to Rachel quoting the song. That is exactly what it was about. I hope Rachel takes it to heart. <3

    Reply
  26. Gloria - October 23, 2019 10:40 pm

    Sean, I pray that every child can feel free to ask any question and get a heartfelt answer from whoever is asked as well as you can give. I have saved almost every post from you so I can go back and receive life lessons over again. Thank you ❤️

    Reply
  27. Lisbeth Garecht - October 23, 2019 10:57 pm

    I know you won’t post this and you probably shouldn’t… But you’re fuckin’ awesome!

    Reply
  28. Jodiscott - October 24, 2019 1:14 am

    Sean, this was really good. I have your books and you and I have coffee together every morning…but this was the best. Keep it coming….
    Love from Georgia ❤️

    Reply
  29. Sheila - October 24, 2019 1:56 am

    You’re just the best! Your “Dear Sean” blogs are some of my favorites. Thank you

    Reply
  30. Sheila - October 24, 2019 2:03 am

    I’m not good with words like you are. It’s hard for me to put my feelings into words. So I borrowed some to share with you; to you: “Your light is seen, your heart is known, your soul is cherished by more people than you might imagine. If you knew how many others have been touched in wonderful ways by you, you would be astonished. If you knew how many people feel so much for you, you would be shocked. You are far more wonderful than you think you are. Rest with that. Rest easy with that. Breathe again. You are doing fine. More than fine. Better than fine. You’re doin’ great. So relax. And love yourself today.”

    ― Neale Donald Walsch

    Thanks Sean

    Reply
  31. Cathy Moss - October 24, 2019 1:55 pm

    I had a visit with a neighbor yesterday and she is just one of my favorite people. We have a lot in common and both love to laugh. I told her that I met you in the parking lot at St Stephens Episcopal church several weeks ago before you sang and spoke. I was waiting in my car to meet my son and daughter in law and you walked CB in front of my car bc you were parked next to me. I accosted you and we talked as we walked into the church. I had two questions. First, I asked if you read your comments and you answered that you read some but Jaime read more . Then I asked abt your mother and you told me that she lived not far from you and was doing well. I saw d that I knew that she was Proud of you and you said you thought so. But I am guessing she tells herself everyday that she raised a fine man who is reaching out to so many people and touching so many hearts In a world that has become frantic and scarey. All these precious children sending you questions need your words of comfort. All of your followers live you and and I believe God put you right where he wanted you to be on this earth. We all walk through storms and needed to be reminder that we never walk alone. Never stop what you are doing unless you want to take your singing voice on the road. It’s just beautiful❤️🙏🏻

    Reply
  32. Cathy Moss - October 24, 2019 3:02 pm

    I have already sent in a comment this morning and after thinking abt it for the last hour, I feel compelled to make a second comment. I am 71 years old , I have three married children and eight grandchildren and believe me when I say I enjoy a good time better than slot of folks. It’s just one of my gifts😂. However, I was shocked and offended that one of your readers used the F word in their comment this morning. I mean , are you kidding me? The post today was composed of questions from sweet , precious children. Children today are being robbed of an innocent childhood and we don’t need for them to hear stuff like that. I know that it will s thrown around like crazy but pls refrain from use no it in a post that children read. I just really felt the need to respond. Have a great day to all of us who love Sean and his wonderful words❤️👍🙏🏻

    Reply
  33. Dermot - October 28, 2019 1:35 pm

    Good morning my friend. Have you ever heard, “You’ll never walk alone,” sung by Liverpool supporters at Anfield in England? I would post a link from YouTube but I am not sure if that is allowed. It’s a beautiful think to witness!! Just wanted to mention that and to thank you for being you. There is no greater job than the hope you share. Slainte….Dermot

    Reply
  34. Martha - November 17, 2019 11:51 am

    You are the best advice giver in the world. I think good advice giving is a little like your dad’s mistake analogy. It takes someone that’s walking or walked through a storm to help or give directions to someone needing them. Bless your heart. We love you Sean and I hope that’s good news, good news!

    Reply
  35. Jan Chapman - November 17, 2019 9:47 pm

    There is just nothing to say that others haven’t already said so I feel kind of like I’m the last one to enter the room and the first one to leave. Just know deep in your heart that you are so very loved by so many and we love the folks you love and we feel the love you have for us and that, Mr. Sean Dietrich, is an amazing accomplishment.

    Reply
  36. LeighAnn Whitley - November 22, 2019 9:14 pm

    Dear Sean,
    I really love you’re writings. I love your podcast too. I think you’re a real sweetheart

    Reply

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