To the child we never had. I am writing to you today because it is my wedding anniversary. And I get reflective on days like this. On each anniversary I usually feel the overwhelming sensation that I have won the Florida Lotto. Because in many ways I have.
You see, I am still very much in love with your mother after these years of marriage. And I don’t know how I found this proverbial lucky lottery ticket. But what can I say, kid? Sometimes in this life you actually win.
At one time we’d even hoped to have a son or daughter. But alas, nobody can win all the time. Thus, you exist only within my imagination.
Although I still love you a lot. And if you were here, seated on my knee, that’s exactly what we’d talk about. Love. I’d tell you everything I know about it. Because my biggest beef with my own species is that we get love all wrong.
Take me. For the first half of my life I had no idea what the stuff was. Which is a downright tragedy. How come other creatures within the animal kingdom seem to comprehend romantic love better than we humans do?
Canada geese mate for life. Wolves do too. And whales have such elaborate courting rituals they make humans appear as sensitive as Pop Tarts.
And yet we write huge novels about love. Movies are made about it. Trillions of songs are penned about it. People are constantly trying to understand it, grappling with it, fighting for it, chasing it, or struggling to believe in it.
But somehow we still get it all wrong.
As you grow (hypothetically, of course) the first falsity they’ll teach you about romantic love is that it’s all about good looks. This is drilled into kids’ heads from infancy. Boys are taught to go looking for Jayne Mansfield, and girls are sent out to marry Brad Pitt, or at the very least someone with a 401(k).
Go watch a few romance flicks and you’ll see what I’m talking about. The movies feature protagonists who are all looking for meaningful relationships with rich supermodels who have perfect hair, great personalities, straight teeth, clear skin, and extremely tight assets.
Just once, I’d like to see a romance film starring a middle aged redhead with an overbite and a size-36 waist.
But anyway, do you know what I think about when I think about real love? You’re going to laugh when I tell you. I think about a house.
It’s true. I think about a plain-looking house that used to sit on the street where I used to live. It was a pretty home. Single story, with white clapboards, and a detached garage. It was built in the early 1920s, and it was so ordinary that nobody ever noticed it. It was owned by an elderly couple who had been married 65 years.
Throughout the home’s lifetime it had seen it all. From Woodrow Wilson to Madonna. Sometimes newer, more modern houses would pop up beside the old home, seemingly overnight. These were fancy, futuristic homes, built with sloppy present-day construction techniques.
These homes made the old place look like a shack by comparison.
But do you know what? Over time, something became apparent within that little neighborhood. It happened when the modern homes started fading, and eventually falling apart.
Their flimsy siding corroded. Their cheap roofs leaked. Their front porches settled and became unlevel. By the time the next era was approaching, all those flashy homes looked uglier than homemade soap.
Meantime, the antique house still sparkled. Although it attracted no attention; it was never a proud home.
One day I once asked the elderly people about their ancient house. Their faces lit up, and I immediately realized that they were very proud of their humble place.
The old man took me on the grand tour. He said his father and mother built the home in 1917 with their bare hands. They had done everything from digging the footings to painting the numbers on the mailbox. It took them several years to finish because they built the home one section at a time.
I could have sworn the old man had tears in his eye when he told me of how his father crafted each window with hand tools and individual panes of glass, all mail-ordered from the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog.
He told me that each floorboard had been laid with care. Each rafter, collar beam, and ridge board had been assembled not with screws, but joinery.
There were transom windows above each door so cross breezes could whip through the house during an age before air conditioning. There were perennials in the flower boxes. Gnomes in the front yard.
Every soffit. Ever fascia board. Every copper pipe. Every marigold. It was all love. Pure love. These old folks were not merely homeowners. These were artists.
All the new houses in the world, with their arrogant banisters, extravagant rooflines, cheap siding, and aluminum air ducts, could never compete with the humble craftsmanship of love.
Well, at least that’s how I see it. And that’s what I would have told you if you’d actually been born.
Because as it happens, I have been fortunate enough to know love. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t find real love because I’m so smart. I’m not. The truth is, love found me.
And it all happened one beautiful December day. A day just like today. When a woman named Jamie Martin became my wife and rebuilt my heart with her own hands. I don’t deserve her, nor do I deserve the majesty that fills our humble life.
But like I said, kid, sometimes you win the lottery.
Marilyn Mason - December 19, 2020 6:30 am
Happy Anniversary to an amazing couple. ❤️❤️
Janie F. - December 19, 2020 6:42 am
Happy Anniversary and may the Good Lord bless you with many more happy years together.💕
Jan - December 19, 2020 6:54 am
Happy Anniversary and congratulations on winning the lottery with your beautiful wife!
Nan - December 19, 2020 7:30 am
Happy Anniversary, Sean and Jamie! May the love you have for each other never fade…
Sue K GAINES - December 19, 2020 7:48 am
I love reading this🥰
Deborah Lockard - December 19, 2020 8:40 am
This one hugged my heart. Thank you.
suziclues - December 19, 2020 9:58 am
Jayne Cash - December 19, 2020 10:05 am
chris nischan - December 19, 2020 10:49 am
Happy Anniversary to you both. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! “fingers crossed”
Leslie in NC - December 19, 2020 11:01 am
Happy anniversary to you and Jamie. A humble home where love lives is better than a fancy home without it.❤️
Deborah L Blount - December 19, 2020 11:07 am
Happy Anniversary, Sean and Jamie!
Marilyn Ward Vance - December 19, 2020 11:08 am
I hit the lottery once, too, and the home we built made others envious. We didn’t have much money, the house was common, but the home, oh, the home was spectacular. I hope you and Jamie have a gazillion more anniversaries to share in that special ‘home’ you built!
Ann - December 19, 2020 11:43 am
Happy Anniversary, you two are blessed and a blessing!❤️❤️
Tim Smith - December 19, 2020 11:59 am
You’ve mistaken “grace” for “luck” but you nailed real love. Thanks.
Judy Mercer - December 19, 2020 12:19 pm
Happy Anniversary to you!!! Lottery winners, doubled!!
joan moore - December 19, 2020 12:24 pm
What a perfect gift for your true love! I’m going to see if that will fit on my Hallmark card! Much love to y’all!
Betty Tompkins - December 19, 2020 12:29 pm
Gay Talbott - December 19, 2020 12:40 pm
Glad to share your anniversary date, today is our 50th.
Joey - December 19, 2020 12:44 pm
Happy anniversary to you!!!!
Marcia MacLean - December 19, 2020 12:46 pm
Happy anniversary to a couple who inspires me daily. Yes indeed, you both won big!
Sincerely, your #1 fan
Bob Brenner - December 19, 2020 12:48 pm
What can you say that really means “I Love You”? Well Sean you just did your child would have “Hit the jackpot” with you and Jamie! Happy Anniversary ❤️
nebraskannie - December 19, 2020 12:52 pm
Again, aren’t we lucky? Your writing soothes and heals something and I look forward to it every day.
Jan - December 19, 2020 12:56 pm
Sean, You deserve to have found the wonderful love of Jamie! That you two found each other is a true blessing. Congrats to both of you and best wishes for many many more years of the special love you have.
Sheryl Jacobs Everett - December 19, 2020 1:02 pm
My parents built their house from the ground up. It began on a dead end dirt road. A road filled with family homesteads. My parents raised six children in that house. It saw many celebrations of life and family over the years. My mother passed away in that house as did my father. That house saw 62 years of joy and sadness. With every single minute.
Sheryl Jacobs Everett - December 19, 2020 1:03 pm
Worth every minute…
Kathie J Kerr - December 19, 2020 1:13 pm
You folks seem like you would make good parents. Ever considered adoption or being a foster parent? The need is do great
MermaidGrammy - December 19, 2020 1:14 pm
You could/should still adopt that child! You have so much to share. It’s not fair to deny one of the many children begging for a home all that you and Jamie have to give
Virginia Russell - December 19, 2020 1:18 pm
Happy Anniversary 🎉🎉🎉
Rich Owen - December 19, 2020 1:28 pm
As someone who celebrated 52 years with the same lovely woman in 2020, I agree with your sentiment. Sometimes a person wins the lottery….
Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - December 19, 2020 1:30 pm
Happy Anniversary to you and Jamie!
Frank - December 19, 2020 1:36 pm
Happy Anniversary Sean and Jamie! Wishing you many more years of love and happiness.
Randy - December 19, 2020 1:47 pm
Love that you are blessed with a lifetime of love. We should all be so blessed!
Peggy Thompson - December 19, 2020 1:55 pm
Happy Anniversary ♥️♥️
Carole Lea - December 19, 2020 1:59 pm
Happy anniversary to you and Jamie! Here’s to many more years of your beautiful love story!
Lisa Wilcox - December 19, 2020 1:59 pm
Such a great tribute to your wife! Happy anniversary!
Betty Kelly - December 19, 2020 2:02 pm
Happy Anniversary to two people who know what real love is.
Farris Jones - December 19, 2020 2:12 pm
Happy anniversary , hope y’all have a great day 😊
Anna Reid - December 19, 2020 2:29 pm
Happy Anniversary, and may you and Jamie have many, many more blessed years!
Beryl - December 19, 2020 2:34 pm
Au contraire Monsieur! You deserve every good thing, good deed, kindness, and yes, LOVE that has and will continue to come to you. Why? YOU are these very attributes you so astutely write about in others. You are a miracle of human expression that is uniquely, Sean Dietrich. We are all better for knowing you through these pages. Thank you for being who you are. Thank you for being a beacon of light that illuminates the deep love that abides on planet Earth and is more magnificent than these simple words can impart. May you KNOW this truth and rejoice daily in these gifts.
Susan Kennedy - December 19, 2020 2:36 pm
Joretta Parker - December 19, 2020 3:09 pm
Happy Anniversary Sean and Jamie!
Phil (Brown Marlin) - December 19, 2020 3:12 pm
Well, I’ve said it before, Sean, but here goes again: You and I are among the luckiest guys on the planet. Who needs the over-hyped lottery? We’ve got our beautiful wives.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to you and Jamie!
Bobbie - December 19, 2020 3:13 pm
Ditto what Beryl said, a hundred times!! “A miracle of human expression”….have never heard that description. Just perfect for you. God had a reason for not giving you a child. Maybe it’s because you wouldn’t have had the time to write your beautiful and profound words that are such a blessing to so many. Your gift touches the hearts of your unknown friends and readers.
Jamie I think too won the lottery! You were meant for each other. Not many have what you do Sean. Thank you for sharing your love with us.
Happy Anniversary ! Be blessed today …you shan’t pass this way again. ❤️🎄😘
Kate - December 19, 2020 3:13 pm
I love your writing, because you always remind us that love, joy, kindness is what is important and is found within each of us when we realize it is always in the little things and in “good” people. You are such a blessing. Thank you for again reminding us to focus on love and being positive and realizing all the good things we truly have regardless of our bank accounts. Happy Anniversary
lfry1220 - December 19, 2020 3:15 pm
Congratulations and Happy Anniversary to you and Jamie. I hope you have many more.
Brenda Stone - December 19, 2020 3:20 pm
Happy anniversary to y’all♥️ I pray you have many more years together
Mary Burns - December 19, 2020 3:38 pm
Happy anniversary to you and Jamie. Glad you both are so happy. Seems like a match made in heaven.
Brenda Watson Petty - December 19, 2020 3:42 pm
I love this story! Happy Anniversary – may the Lord bless you and your wife with many more blessed years!
Susan - December 19, 2020 4:00 pm
Beautifully written Sean with the truest meaning of love I have ever heard of. Happy anniversary to you and your beautiful and sweet Jamie! Here’s to many, many more happy years!!! ♥️♥️
Richard - December 19, 2020 4:08 pm
Sean and Jamie, I’m saddened by your painful loss of parenting. And I want to tell you about all of the children in this world (and in the state of Florida) who would give everything they have, including all of their love, to be adopted by such a wonderful couple. Parenthood isn’t about genetics, it’s about love. And there is nothing better than sharing all of that love with a lost, needy little child (or even, praise God, an older, “unadoptable” orphan).
I have 3 beautiful children. One of them is adopted but I can’t for the life of me remember which one. You should play the Lottery again, Sean and Jamie. you’ll win more than you ever hoped for.
Mary M Berryman - December 19, 2020 4:23 pm
Beautiful words, Sean. May you and Jamie enjoy many, many years together.
Patricia Gibson - December 19, 2020 4:36 pm
Happy Anniversary, Sean and Jamie and many blessings 💙💜❤️
Christine - December 19, 2020 4:37 pm
Happy Anniversary beautiful couple❤❤
Christopher Spencer - December 19, 2020 4:56 pm
Happy Anniversary Sean and Jamie!! May God bless you with many more years of love, happiness and good health together!! My love to you both!!
LInda - December 19, 2020 5:14 pm
Sheryl Everett, I am an Everett also. This post today brought tears because my Mom and Dad built my childhood home from ground up. My dad put every board, every nail, every shingle on our house by himself. Took them 5 years to complete the home. My Mom passed away last December 27th, at 101 years old. A life well lived in the home she dearly loved. Merry Christmas from one Everett to another!
Bill - December 19, 2020 5:18 pm
This sure describes my wife…to a T…
Marie Kleinschmidt - December 19, 2020 6:23 pm
Our 61st today. Happy Anniversary!
Linda Moon - December 19, 2020 6:37 pm
I would have loved the child you two might have had because I love her/his parents. My guy and I know the ‘house’ kind of love very well. His old home on the farm and my old tiny urban home are both gone. But the love and the marriage are still with us. Jamie Martin Dietrich’s hands can build hearts and pound cakes, so I’ve heard. I’ve never had her pound cake, but she’s crafted much love to me: “Uma”. Happy Anniversary!!
Hazel Barber - December 19, 2020 7:23 pm
Happy anniversary Sean and Jamie.
Steve Winfield (Lifer) - December 19, 2020 8:14 pm
Honestly, I don’t cry much when I read your stuff. But this. I immediately teared up because I too finally found it. Or it found me. It took 2 terrible marriages I’m sad to say. But finally. Boy what a feeling!
B. Kay - December 19, 2020 9:32 pm
Happy Anniversary Sean! Love your writings!
MAM - December 19, 2020 10:48 pm
Happy Anniversary! I found a wonderful man and we have stood together for more than 52 years. We are certain that God had a hand in helping us find one another from completely different parts of the country, when we ended up in the same place at the same time. And our love continues to deepen, as yours and Jamie’s will, too, Sean. Enjoy!
Gaylia Annette Hancock - December 19, 2020 11:51 pm
What a beautiful Anniversary gift you gave Jamie. That is so sweet and I enjoy your writings so much. You got a keeper in Jamie as she did in you. Congratulations on your anniversary.
Debbie g - December 19, 2020 11:55 pm
Truly all you need is love. Happy anniversary Sean and Jamie
Renee - December 20, 2020 12:20 am
Happy Anniversary you two lovebirds, many many More!!!
Suzanne Moore - December 20, 2020 4:43 am
What a beautiful post! What a tribute to your wonderful wife. I believe that you and she are both married to real treasures. If she created the person you are, she and you are both reaping the rewards of her effort, as are all of us who read your words. May God continue to bless you both.
Nancy M - December 20, 2020 7:13 am
Happy Anniversary to you both, Sean and Jamie! And many more happy anniversaries!!
Sandi. - December 20, 2020 7:30 am
Sean, I’m sending an abundance of wonderful wishes to you and Jamie for many more years of marital bliss.
You both won the lotto.
Lloyd - December 20, 2020 1:48 pm
Happy Anniversary you two! May you have 100 more years filled with love.
Molly - December 20, 2020 2:18 pm
Very sweet and touching piece. Thank you.
Robert Chiles - December 20, 2020 7:36 pm
It’s all in picking the right one
Chasity Davis Ritter - December 20, 2020 7:55 pm
Didn’t read this till today but I hope you and Jamie had a wonderful anniversary I’m glad you have each other to share it with but thanks for sharing a bit with us too.
Ann Marie Bouchet - December 21, 2020 3:38 am
Hope your anniversary was magical. We.an, every time you write about Jamie, it is like the whole article just glows. Your love for her just shines out from the page and just makes everyone happy. You two are pretty awesome and we love you both.
elizabethroosje - December 21, 2020 4:41 am
Ok. So this may not be what other people are hitting on with this (wonderful) post. I actually was thinking about this sometime in the last month. The hmmm, Sean and Jamie are really people I like reading about here and seeing on Instagram too. They must be somewhat close to my age (I am a bit over 40 personally, so guessing you guys are 35 years or more) and, like me, no kids. Yep. I know that one. Hard. I get it. So what I was thinking about was years ago when I reading (not all of but a bit) of a book on family life by a Greek Monk named Paisios who had a short section on what was called ‘barrenness’ where he basically said one of the reasons that some people (if there can be a reason that is deep enough to really capture why this would be) are without children is that they are going to be used to bless MANY children; the image that came to mind was kind of like the pied piper who has kids following him; and what I was thinking was that Sean, he really is being used to bless and help kids who write him. I really see that you are a deep blessing this way Sean, so if you ever feel sad (how could you not; I get sad about this in my life) about not having a child, remember that you have blessed countless number of children by being there to write to them. Anyway, I was thinking and that and wondering if I could ever have an avenue to tell you this. And then, well, here it came. Happy many blessed years to you and Jamie. Know that your presence is a blessing.
Marla E. - December 22, 2020 12:36 am
The sweetest! And absolutely the truest!
Happy happy anniversary!
May you both relish in your sho-nuff-for-real love for many more years to come!