Hash Browns

Waffle House was slow. It was late when we pulled in. We needed hash browns. Stat.

My wife and I walked into the arctic air of the tiny restaurant and slid into the same side of a booth without speaking. Her face was tear-stained and raw. She had a dehydration headache from crying.

There was no music overhead. Which was odd. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a musicless Waffle House.

The waitress approached. She could tell something was wrong by the way my wife was dabbing her eyes.

“You okay, hon?” the waitress asked, handing us menus.

My wife nodded.

We ordered drinks, then my wife leaned onto my shoulder and tried to pull herself together, albeit unsuccessfully.

I held her and said, “Sssshhh” because this is what my mother used to say whenever I cried over a skinned knee or a busted lip. Mama wasn’t actually shushing me, I suppose it’s just what you say when a loved one sobs into your shirt.

We came to this Waffle House almost immediately after the undertaker removed the body of my mother-in-law from her house.

It was surreal. Two men from the funeral home arrived with a stainless-steel gurney. They wore dark suits and did their jobs flawlessly. We removed my mother-in-law’s wedding ring. We fixed her night shirt. They transferred the decedent with dignity, then parked the gurney in the hallway for final farewells.

The placid remains of my wife’s mother were covered in an old quilt. It looked like one of those patchwork quilts your great-great-granny sewed back in eighteen-hundred-and-whenever. Weird what you notice during important moments.

Saying goodbye was tough. Worse than I expected. I don’t care how strong you are, watching a loved one leave home on a mortuary stretcher will break you. Until that moment, it hasn’t hit you yet. Until you see them go, it’s not real.

The men in suits rolled the stretcher away. My wife followed, speaking to her mother the way a parent might speak to a child.

“These men are going to take care of you, Mother. You’re gonna be okay. Oh, they’re going to treat you like a queen…”

The men kept the gurney moving forward. Heads down.

My wife started crying. “We’re gonna do your hair up real nice. You’re gonna look beautiful for your funeral. Gina’s gonna do your makeup, and oh, we’re gonna dress you in your favorite shirt and…”

The gurney neared the doorway.

My wife’s weeping kicked in doubletime.

“Mother, you’re my best friend. My best friend. I love you, I love you so much. My best friend in the whole world. You’ll never know how much you mean to me…”

I watched my wife’s face bust wide open. She looked like a child who had just fallen off her bike. She glanced at the men in dark suits and half moaned:

“Please… Take… Good care… Of my mother…”

As the gurney rolled away my wife sobbed into my chest until she couldn’t breathe. My two Chicken-Little arms wrapped around her tightly, and I’ve never felt so inadequate.

“Sssshhh,” was all I knew to say. “Sssshhh.”

The suits placed the body into the back of a white van. Easy as that. Like a couple of USPS guys delivering a parcel. They closed the vehicle doors. They cranked the engine. They drove off.

My wife started trotting behind the van, chewing on her thumb, still speaking aloud to her mother. When the tail lights disappeared, she totally collapsed. I held her and felt like my heart was being ripped out with a pitchfork.

After that, we went out for hash browns.

We ate in silence and tried not to think. Because after someone dies you just need a rest from thinking. It only takes the littlest thoughts to break your heart all over again.

You’ll be standing in your loved one’s bathroom and see their toothbrush in the stand. Or when you open the refrigerator, you’ll see their carton of milk, half full, and you will completely lose it.

During our supper, my wife and I watched the starring cast of Waffle House put on their evening show. We saw the truck drivers exchange jokes. We watched the cook throw chili onto haystacks of hashbrowns. We listened to the waitress call everyone “hon.” We saw a table of teens have a laughing contest. A Latino family sang “Happy Birthday” to a baby.

My wife held my hand. I could see the fault lines in her face begin to crack. It had been a long day.

“Everyone here seems so happy,” she said, sniffing.



“I’m so exhausted,” she said.

I tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I know you are.”

Marathon silence.

Then her eyes traveled to her hand. She was still wearing her mother’s wedding ring.

Her lower lip trembled.

That was all it took. In a few moments, everyone in the joint was staring at us. And by the expressions of empathy on their faces, I could tell that each of us in this nondescript Waffle House was a member of the same club.

“Sssshhh,” I said.


  1. Martha D Laska - August 18, 2021 7:10 am

    My deepest condolences to you and your wife on the loss of the Earthly presence of her mother, who was a second mother to you

  2. Norma Den - August 18, 2021 8:10 am

    I think back and see my Dads casket covered in a South African flag, I had to touch him one more time. As the hearse drove away a sudden violent wind rocked the trees momentarily. I never had the chance to say goodbye to my Mom. She died while we were out the country 1980 age 64. Too young by far. I know the feelings. Be strong but weep as much as necessary. God bless.

  3. Marcie White - August 18, 2021 8:32 am

    I would love to send y’all a sympathy card. I have just the perfect one. But, where would I send it?

  4. Leslie in NC - August 18, 2021 8:49 am

    Oh Sean, I know these early days of grief are gut-wrenching, especially for Jamie. I so vividly recall that raw grief I felt in the days and weeks after my mother passed. You may feel you don’t know what to say to ease her pain, but just by staying close to her and letting her soak your shirt with her tears for as long as she needs to is probably more comforting than words right now. Ssshhh.

  5. saltydoggie - August 18, 2021 9:00 am

    Sean, my mother in law passed in our home, I will never forget that night. It was one of the roughest and certainly one of the most stressful that I have experienced in 44 years of marriage. My condolences to you and your wife.

    • Jeanette - August 18, 2021 12:33 pm

      I’m a member of that club. Grief so deep that sleep doesn’t stop the sobbing. And then you can’t cry anymore, no more tears, but the pain is still there. Yep, I’m a member.

  6. Laura Wilson - August 18, 2021 9:08 am

    Mom passed 11 years ago and I can still see the neighbors, who had lived across the street from us for most of my life, standing out front of their homes watching mom be brought out of the house for the last time with me following behind. My deepest condolences to you and your wife for the loss of her best friend.

  7. Joan Moore - August 18, 2021 10:10 am

    Please know that we are crying with y’all. Hold on tight to each other.

  8. Susan Kennedy - August 18, 2021 10:13 am

    Thank you for holding Jamie for all of us. Tell her she’s loved. You are too.

  9. Amanda Gibbs - August 18, 2021 10:29 am

    I needed to read this. Last year my granny died in March of 2020. And with Covid barely starting. It was like life was all good but it wasn’t. If I see something, hear something or smell something that reminds me of her I cry. I miss her so much. Thanks for sharing This. With the world they say it is, and a lot of death around us all. We need these stores…

  10. elizabeth edens - August 18, 2021 10:30 am

    “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”
    (feat. Jerry Lee Lewis & Carl Perkins)

    I was standing by the window
    On one cold and cloudy day
    When I saw the hearse come rolling
    For to carry my mother away

    Will the circle be unbroken
    By and by Lord, by and by
    There’s a better home awaiting
    In the sky Lord, in the sky

    I said to the undertaker
    Undertaker please drive slow
    For this lady you are carrying
    Lord I hate to see her go

    Will the circle be unbroken
    By and by Lord, by and by
    There’s a better home awaiting
    In the sky Lord, in the sky

    Oh, I followed close behind her
    Tried to hold up and be brave
    But I could not hide my sorrow
    When they laid her in the grave

    Will the circle be unbroken
    By and by Lord, by and by
    There’s a better home awaiting
    In the sky Lord, in the sky

    I went back home, the home was lonesome
    Since my mother, she was gone
    All my brothers and sisters crying
    What a home so sad and alone

    Will the circle be unbroken
    By and by Lord, by and by
    There’s a better home awaiting
    In the sky Lord, in the sky

    We sang songs of childhood
    Hymns of faith that made us strong
    Ones that mother maybelle taught us
    Hear the angels sing along

    Will the circle be unbroken
    By and by Lord, by and by
    There’s a better home awaiting
    In the sky Lord, in the sky

    • Pam Moore - August 30, 2021 1:23 pm


  11. Leigh Amiot - August 18, 2021 10:35 am

    Will the circle be unbroken…

    Shortly after my mother died I had to quickly leave a grocery store after seeing Progresso soup, a brand she liked. The triggers are many at first, but in time the tears do their job. Our hearts and prayers are with you and Jamie and all Mother Mary’s loved ones.

  12. Karen wyatt - August 18, 2021 10:46 am

    Losing my mom was the worst thing that ever happened to me, but best thing that happened was how my husband let me grieve the way I needed to. Although we close before , going through this experience together created an intimacy I can’t explain. Prayers for you and Jamie

  13. Peggy G - August 18, 2021 10:47 am

    I remember hearing of people heading to breakfast after a loved ones death…how can they do that, I wondered..but when we lost my mom and then a few years later, my dad- we did just that.. went to breakfast, crushed and exhausted. We bought pastries to take back to the nurses at the hospital and the young cafe owner looked bewildered when we told him our father had just passed that morning. Probably wondering how we could be out eating breakfast on such a day. The moments that set off a fresh round of tears will eventually ease. Someday you will be able to get through the day without the tears. But there will be many days when grief just shows up and kicks you in the back of your knees. Random moments. I always though grief had a beginning and end…not so I have learned…there will be rainy days and sunny days for you. Embrace both.

  14. Keloth Anne - August 18, 2021 11:02 am

    Know my heart is sad and prayers and love are with you and Jamie♥️♥️
    Hold each other tight and as the memories come let the tears flow. What an incredible story of love and compassion—-she loved you both so much💕💕

  15. terry - August 18, 2021 11:10 am

    “Sssshhh” is the prayer of solace the Spirit makes when there are no words. My heart…for you both

  16. Bill Warnick - August 18, 2021 11:11 am

    So sorry for the loss of your Mother in law, prayers.

  17. Allison - August 18, 2021 11:16 am

    Thinking now about all the times I picked up the phone to tell Mom something special about my day, or ask her a question about a recipe at Thanksgiving that wasn’t quite right, or needing her “ssshhh” to know things would be okay. And then I remember I can’t reach her by phone so I just whisper my message to her and know that somehow she hears it. It doesn’t happen as often as it did in the first year after her death, but when it happens now, 14 years later, I chuckle and say a little prayer that my three sons will still want to call me after I leave this version of myself.

    • Te - August 18, 2021 11:57 am

      I have an argument with my mother every time I change the sheets. She hated blue. I have aqua sheets. I insist they aren’t blue. She’s been dead almost 20 years.

  18. Bar - August 18, 2021 11:30 am

    Many tears as I read this — too painful, too familiar. Love hurts.

  19. Magnolia Emy - August 18, 2021 11:37 am

    This brings back all the heart aching experience all of us who’ve lost our parents have had. It’s small comfort that you’ll love hearing all the stories friends and family will be sharing, oh, and the bereavement food is amazing.

  20. Deborah Kilpatrick - August 18, 2021 11:41 am

    Her chains are gone…..May God bless you all. 💖.

  21. magster1945 - August 18, 2021 11:43 am

    I opened the refrigerator door and saw the jar of molasses. ‘Dady’ loved molasses. Then I lost it…

  22. Laurie Wasilewski - August 18, 2021 11:47 am

    My sincere sympathy to you and your wife. Such a sad time, but such beautiful stories you have told about Mother Mary along the way. Much love and thoughts that happy memories will soon fill your hearts.

  23. Heidi - August 18, 2021 11:51 am

    I’m so sorry that you are in the depths of grief. It’s just the hardest. Everything else seems so trivial. Just know that you and Jamie are so loved and prayers are being said for you. …to find some comfort and strength.

  24. elizabethroosje - August 18, 2021 11:56 am

    Awwwwww Sean, I am crying with you both. We are holding you all in prayer. Still many times a day. Keep writing here, keep telling us your story. Sharing grief is healing. Praying still for you all. ❤🙏🕯

  25. Te - August 18, 2021 12:00 pm

    Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there; I do not sleep.

    I am a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the diamond glints on snow.

    I am the sun on ripened grain,
    I am the gentle autumn rain.

    When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft star that shines at night.

    Do not stand at my grave and cry.
    I am not there; I did not die.

    Mary Elizabeth Frye, 1905-2004

  26. Lisa Wilcox - August 18, 2021 12:02 pm

    So much love and hugs and prayers for Jamie and your family. I know this grief of losing your mama & your post brought back memories of when that happened to me 10+ years ago. We always miss our moms. Grief is a long and windy road- I will be praying for God’s peace and comfort & great memories in the days ahead.

  27. Te - August 18, 2021 12:04 pm

    Words fail me. I don’t know how you got through writing this column. It must’ve taken forever between bawling and taking a breath and going on. My deepest – the old words are inadequate for what I would say to you and Jamie. We’re keeping vigil with you, all of us who participate in your life through your words. May the peace of God rest upon you.

  28. Pamela Williams - August 18, 2021 12:12 pm

    I’m so grateful you share your heart and the reality of losing someone so dear to you. I lost my mom 4 years ago and this feels as real as if it happened just yesterday. Your writing about this passage of life has touched my heart deeply. You are beautiful souls and you both will remain in my prayers as you continue to mourn sweet, sassy Mother Mary’s passing. Love to you both.

  29. Judy - August 18, 2021 12:15 pm

    That same silence as they pushed my Momma down the big hall for the last time. We followed wordless and weeping. The hurst was a new fangled vehicle that looked like a SUV. My 4 year old grandson said, “Why are they putting GG in the trunk?”It was that innocent remark that for a brief moment allowed us to laugh. From an old Whiskepalian, may the Lord be with you!

  30. Becky Fuller - August 18, 2021 12:18 pm

    My heart aches you you, Sean and for your Jamie. May Mother Mary rest in peace along side her loved ones and my beloved husband.

  31. Sarah - August 18, 2021 12:28 pm

    I’m so sorry. Praying for peaceful hearts and minds.

  32. Sarah - August 18, 2021 12:30 pm

    Sean, Tell your wife that all of us who are members of the club wept into our coffee mugs this morning, recognizing every feeling your words, and hers, evoked.

  33. mccutchen52 - August 18, 2021 12:40 pm

    You know how it is heart breaking but you also know the living will continue. As you get older you will still feel them in your heart and on occasion you will remember them and a lump will be in your throat and a tear will be rolling down your cheek. Find peace in knowing they will always be in your heart.

  34. Marcia De Graaf - August 18, 2021 12:45 pm

    The tears are flowing as I’m reading this, Sean. Sad as it has been, thank you for sharing my friend’s last days with me. Give Jamie a hug for me. All of you are in my heart. May God comfort you as only He can. 😪🙏🏻❤️

  35. Anne Arthur - August 18, 2021 12:53 pm

    Oh Sean, my heart goes out to dear Jamie and to you. Thank you for sharing this intimate and sad day with us. I am so sorry you have to go through this. Give Jamie a tender hug from us and know that all will be well. One day, when the memories of loss will turn into memories of joy over the fact that you had Mother Mary in your lives. May God console you.

  36. Gay Talbott - August 18, 2021 12:53 pm

    Your hearts are broken but we rejoice that she is now with the Father. It was Albert Einstein who said, ” There are only two ways to live your life, One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is.” Your mother in law lived as if everything was a miracle and because of her you are a better person. This poem reminds me of her and hope it brings comfort to you and your family, especially the LAST verse. Please accept my deepest condolences.

    When Tomorrow Starts without Me by David M. Romano in 1993

    When tomorrow starts without me,
    and I’m not there to see,
    If the sun should rise and find your eyes
    All filled with tears for me:

    I wish so much you wouldn’t cry
    the way you did today,
    While thinking of the many things,
    We didn’t get to say.
    I know how much you love me,
    as much as I love you,
    And each time you think of me,
    I know you’ll miss me too;’
    But when tomorrow starts without me,
    Please try to understand,
    Thant an angel came and called my name,
    and took me by the hand,
    And said my place was ready,
    In heaven far above,
    And that I’d have to leave behind
    All those I dearly love,
    But as I turned to walk away,
    A tear fell from my eye
    For all my life, I’d always thought,
    I didn’t want to die.
    I had so much to live for,
    So much left yet to do,
    It seemed almost impossible,
    That I was leaving you.

    I thought of all the yesterdays,
    The good ones and the bad,
    The thought of all the love we shared,
    And all the fun we had.
    If I could relive yesterday
    Just even for a while,
    I’d say good-bye and kiss you
    And maybe see you smile.
    But then I fully realized
    That this could never be,
    For emptiness and memories,
    Would take the place of me.
    And when I thought of worldly things
    I might miss come tomorrow,
    I thought of you, and when I did
    My heart was filled with sorrow.
    But when I walked through heaven’s gates
    I felt so ouch at home
    When God looked down and smiled at me,
    From His great golden throne,
    He said, “This is eternity,
    and all I’ve promised you.
    Today your life on earth is past
    But here it starts anew.
    I promise no tomorrow,
    but today will always last,
    And since each day’s the same way,
    There’s no longing for the past.
    You have been so faithful,
    So trusting and so true.
    Though there were times
    You did some things
    You knew you shouldn’t do.
    But you have been forgiven
    And now at last you’re free.
    So won’t you come and take my hand
    And share my life with me?”

    So When tomorrow starts without me,
    Don’t think we’re far apart,
    For every time you think of me,

  37. Bill Harris - August 18, 2021 12:54 pm

    I’m so sorry Sean. 💔

  38. jill - August 18, 2021 12:56 pm

    My prayers are with you.

  39. lawrencegwen924 - August 18, 2021 12:57 pm

    you know how to describe it perfectly. cleaning out my parent’s house takes a lot out of me, and emotions are all over the place. prayers for your family to be strong getting through this tough time.

  40. Steve Leachman - August 18, 2021 1:00 pm

    I remember when my father died from cancer. He was 89 and I wept uncontrollably when he died. I wanted one more Sunday to take him to church; one more phone call to listen to him tell stories I’d heard a hundred times. Just one more day to remind him how much I loved him. Lucky for me my wife reminded me I had done all I could do. Your wife did all she could do. Remind her of that.

  41. Kit - August 18, 2021 1:00 pm

    It is amazing how this brings everything back. I’m a lot older than you are, but all the difficult and devastating losses over almost 70 years came flooding back to me while reading this, and not just as memories but the whole experience of them. It’s a hard thing to handle while sitting at your desk at work, and it probably will take the rest of the day to sort it all out, again.

    I don’t know if your gift is a blessing or a curse, but thank you for sharing it with us. The people who love you so much are very proud of you.

  42. Bob E - August 18, 2021 1:04 pm

    Speaking from experience it is definitely interesting, sometimes dumbfounding even amazing what goes through your mind at the passing of a loved one.
    Both you and Jamie will have a lot to talk about in the future – probably forever.
    May God bless you both and all those lucky enough to have known Mother Mary.

  43. Karen - August 18, 2021 1:05 pm

    My prayers are with you all.

  44. Michael Matthews - August 18, 2021 1:06 pm

    Sean, your account of the day your mother in law was removed from her house was exactly as it was in July 25, it was hard as ever to watch your loved one wrapped in a blanket being placed in a body bag we covered her face wept uncontrollably as they put her body in the back of a white van for her last ride. I wept again as I read your words, we lose someone you thought would live forever but knowing that’s not true. You only try to prepare for that day I take comfort in knowing that her mother came to take her home she’s at peace not in pain anymore. Each passing day it gets a little easier but the hole in your heart is always there. To Jamie and you rest easy as she is with god the father now as we all will be.

  45. Regina - August 18, 2021 1:12 pm

    Please give Jamie a big hug from all of us out here crying with you. Much love and sympathy to you both 💕

  46. Kathy - August 18, 2021 1:13 pm

    I’ve been here. Hugs are good. I agree with Regina. We’re crying with you.

  47. flkatmom - August 18, 2021 1:14 pm

    I’m a member of the club too, I’m sending Love & Prayers for you both.

  48. Richard Owen - August 18, 2021 1:15 pm

    Lewis Grizzard is very proud to have been an inspiriation to you. I am sure he watches you every night as you write your stories.

  49. RC - August 18, 2021 1:18 pm

    Heart breaking open. I’m so sorry for your wife’s and your loss. Thank you for sharing these last moments and giving us a chance to love Mother Mary too.

  50. Shelton A. - August 18, 2021 1:18 pm

    God bless you all.

  51. Lucretia Jones - August 18, 2021 2:03 pm

    Praying for the Holy Ghost to abide with all of you and bless each of you according to your needs.

  52. twistedliss - August 18, 2021 2:11 pm

    Well that made me cry. Again.

  53. Molly - August 18, 2021 2:16 pm

    You and Jamie are in our thoughts and prayers as you walk through this! Mother Mary will forever live in our hearts. Your words have put her there!

  54. Hope Ewans - August 18, 2021 2:18 pm

    My heart goes out to Jamie, you and all of Mother Mary’s family. Sean, keep holding Jamie and grieving with her as long as it takes and as often as it takes. You are both richly blessed to have each other to hold on to. Much love to you and yours.

  55. Rikki - August 18, 2021 2:25 pm

    I’ve been there….watched the tail lights turn the corner….and he was gone, forever. Cremated. I’m still saying goodbye 14 years later. Take good care of her Sean…..now more than ever.

  56. Ruth Mitchell - August 18, 2021 2:27 pm

    I feel your pain.

  57. Cathy - August 18, 2021 2:30 pm

    I am just glad that you and Jamie have each other. My dad died in his sleep at 49. I was 21 and he loved me in a way that no one else can. I was married and my husband loved me through the saddest time of my life. I am now 73 and still married to the same man who held me as I grieved that loss. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t think abt. The love that my dad poured on me. He did not spoil me. He was strict and a disciplinarian for sure. My husband and I were young but he stepped up to the plate and was patient with my broken heart. Hold on to each other and your faith. You will smile again, I promise❤️🙏🏻

  58. Suellen - August 18, 2021 2:47 pm

    I felt like sobbing as I read this. The best that can be said of my relationship with my Mom was “it’s complicated”. She wasn’t the nurturing kind of mother. I can’t remember one time sitting on her lap. She adored my Dad but the 4 of us kids kind of raised ourselves. After my Dad died she quickly remarried a man she had only known 3 weeks and told us kids if we didn’t like it we could “f” off. Your blog this morning brought back memories of sitting in the funeral home and a sob bubbled up from inside me that I was totally helpless to stop. Everyone was staring at me standing there sobbing for this woman who let’s face it mostly thought only of herself. You only have one mother and even with her issues the loss was and still is terrible. I can’t imagine what those who have a close loving relationship must feel. Remembering you both in my prayers.

  59. Linda Chapman - August 18, 2021 2:56 pm

    I love you, Sean….

  60. vjwinton - August 18, 2021 3:00 pm

    Oh man. You described losing a mom perfectly.

  61. rugbynut15 - August 18, 2021 3:13 pm

    Thank you Sean for sharing so openly. Our family has been on the same journey for the past few months and this morning my Dad joined Mother Mary in the great cloud of witnesses. Your words have made me laugh and made me weep, and have taken me back to rich memories of my own that must be celebrated and will ever be cherished, so thank you for that as well. One day we will join them but until then, see you at the Waffle House.

    • Suellen - August 18, 2021 5:32 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about your Dad. When the illness lingers it’s kind of a mixed bag. First a kind of relief that they are no longer in pain and then the pain of missing them. Praying for your family.

  62. Karen Perry - August 18, 2021 3:14 pm

    I’m so very sorry to read of your mother-in-law’s passing. Prayers of comfort for both of you.

  63. Jeri Blom - August 18, 2021 3:17 pm

    I am crying for you both, I know how much you both loved Mother Mary. I am so sorry!! God Bless You Both.

  64. Leesa - August 18, 2021 3:23 pm

    When you stand in the knee deep surf you can enjoy the gentle waves that envelop you and rock you a bit. Then, a larger wave hits you with a greater force that totally knocks you off balance and you stumble until you once again right yourself. This is what I came to believe the grief is like. It is never over, but it does get better. “Grief is the price we pay for love”. God bless you and know that many of us are lifting you in love for peace and comfort.

  65. Linda Holmes - August 18, 2021 3:34 pm

    My heart breaks for your family. Thank you for sharing this heart wrenching moment. And, yes, I have been there. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to you.

  66. Karen Snyder - August 18, 2021 3:44 pm

    Cry as much as you need, all of you. Tears are healing. We who follow here are crying with you, and praying for solace for your hurting hearts. ❤️

  67. Betty - August 18, 2021 3:59 pm

    This is so painful and I’m so sorry. Your wife is blessed to have you. It’s a difficult read for me because this sounds exactly like the day my mother died…except I had no one to hold me and console me. The loneliness is so difficult, especially when your mom is your best friend and you’re divorced. Keep holding her, Sean. She’ll need that for a good while, even when she learns to pretend she’s fine.

  68. Christina - August 18, 2021 4:02 pm

    Grieving with Jamie and you. Her deep love for Mother Mary is so precious! I’m glad you are a shoulder she can cry on. Sending lots of love!

  69. Gayle Wilson - August 18, 2021 4:04 pm

    Bless each of you. When my father in law passed, my mother in law wanted to go to their favorite burger place. We ate and cried thinking of how he would talk about they didn’t get his burger right, even though he was putting it away as fast as he could.

  70. Susan Bell - August 18, 2021 4:12 pm

    I almost couldn’t finish reading this. My mom died at home 18 mos ago. I was laying next to her, singing to her at the end. I’d quit my job & cared for her since her diagnosis for 3 years. She was my best friend. I tidied her up after she passed, put her favorite socks on her feet, washed her face, combed her hair and cried the entire time.

    This one brought out raw grief again. My prayers are with you & your wife, Mr. Dietrich. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

  71. MONA WHITE - August 18, 2021 4:13 pm


  72. Michael Hawke - August 18, 2021 4:28 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. Several years ago, I watched a friend break down at his mother’s funeral. His wife was standing next to me at the time. She said we (she and I) had had it easy. “We’ve lost our Dads. It’s a whole different world when you lose Mama.” Hope to see y’all in Dothan before too long.

  73. Faye Hutt - August 18, 2021 4:37 pm

    I’m so sorry.

  74. Jackie Lavin - August 18, 2021 5:03 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Your description of your experience was so much like my own. My husband who loved my mother like you love Mother Mary, said the same word – surreal .
    I cry for you all and the horrendous feeling of loss. Wishing you Peace.

  75. Judy Tayloe - August 18, 2021 5:05 pm

    I am a member of that club too. My deepest condolences to you both.

  76. Lou - August 18, 2021 5:18 pm

    Sean – your description of the passing of Jamie’s Mother bring back vivid memories of my Mom’s death last year. The funeral home, the quiet, the last words before they left with her. The dehydration headache. I tried not to weep while reading your article. The pain is so real. So sorry for your loss.

  77. Virginia Gibson Pharr - August 18, 2021 5:23 pm

    My deepest sympathies for your loss. Your love has shone through your columns. You have honored this lady with your stories and care.

  78. Josie McCamish - August 18, 2021 5:47 pm

    Love & sympathy continues to you & Jamie. 🤗🤗

  79. Linda - August 18, 2021 5:51 pm

    So sorry for your loss, our thoughts an prayers are with you, God bless !

  80. dqualls54 - August 18, 2021 6:23 pm

    Sending lots of hugs to you both. My heart is broken for you. If everyone in the Waffle House wasn’t a member of this club, they will be. God bless hou!

  81. askguy - August 18, 2021 6:23 pm

    Hurts so bad cause the love is so good.

  82. Susan - August 18, 2021 6:39 pm

    Now you’re the grown-ups. Shhhhh… I know how hard it has been to share this life event with us. You did it beautifully. Thank you. God bless you and your family

  83. Harriet - August 18, 2021 7:12 pm

    I cried at this. I feel so bad for Jamie. Love to you both.

  84. JoAnn Lee Travioli - August 18, 2021 7:31 pm

    Someone once told me that, no matter how old you get, you never really become an adult until your last parent is gone.

  85. Cary Hatcher - August 18, 2021 7:48 pm

    You both have my deepest sympathy, Sean. My mother passed away in the nursing home last summer while they were on lockdown and I couldn’t be with her for her last days – her 96th birthday and a broken hip. Some of my favorite columns of yours were about Mother Mary, her string of pearls and her red lipstick! Hang on to those good memories. Mother Mary’s entertaining St. Peter and the crowd of angels right now! She may even be watching Naked and Afraid with Moses! Give you wife a hug from me.

  86. Linda Moon - August 18, 2021 7:55 pm

    My guy and I had hash browns with dinner last night. I wish you and Jamie could’ve joined us. We play music a lot and would have been glad to listen to your favorites while dining. Jamie’s conversation with her mother was beautiful. And, mother that I am would say to Jamie and to my child, “Hush, Baby, until you are done with crying. Question. Grieve. Then soon Mother will return in wonderful memories.”

    “One short sleep past, we wake eternally and death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.” -John Donne.

  87. MAM - August 18, 2021 8:18 pm

    Prayers with you, Sean and Jamie, for peace and comfort to know Mother Mary is safely in God’s hands now. Grieve with tears, but realize that in the years to come, it will be the happy memories that come to mind first. My dad died 50 years ago, and my mom 16 years ago, but now my wishes are that I could ask them just one more question. And that question varies by the day. They are loved, but I am comforted that they are happily with God, where I, too, hope to be someday, because of Jesus’s forgiveness and mercy.

  88. Rebecca Souders - August 18, 2021 8:22 pm

    Don’t believe that “it will get better.:” It doesn’t, but it does get softer, the loss not so sharp and wrenching… in a year or two or seven. Peace and hugs to you and your family, Sean.

  89. Bill - August 18, 2021 9:22 pm

    Sean, thank you for sharing your mother-in-laws last few days. My deepest condolences./ God’s blessings and comfort to you and your wife, and your family.

  90. Carol ROTHWELL - August 18, 2021 9:23 pm

    It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done , say goodbye to my husband and then my mother.
    My husband still makes me cry today he was 52 my mom was 92. It’s not the age they died it was the time I would of been able to be with them.
    18 yrs he’s been gone and I still think of him every day and night and I can cry ! I’ll never get over his death. God has to keep his promise that I will see them both again !!
    So sorry for your loss , I’ve read how close you all were. It makes a big empty space I know.
    Love and prayers to you both 🙏

  91. Dianne (Deavours) Shafer - August 18, 2021 9:33 pm

    You’ve gone and done it this time, Sean. Your story broke my heart; it forced open the wall that held back a sea of tears for my gentle father who died 5 Sep 2009 and for my sweet mother who died 9 Oct 2016. As I read each word, simply written but filled with anguish, the tears kept welling up until they finally broke free. I cried for you, for your dear wife, for Mother Mary. But I honestly think I cried most for me, the orphaned senior, who remembers to this day the small things that filled that day when I had to say good-bye.

  92. Ms. Mary - August 18, 2021 9:58 pm

    As so many who write to you have, I’ve lived these days. Once at home with my Dad, and in the hospital ICU with my Mom. in the hour after they leave, you just look around and wonder how the world is still spinning. How can these other people just walk by? I’m sending love and comforting thoughts to you and Jamie. It’s a club no one wants to join. You don’t need advice, but I highly recommend a trip to Hawaii. <3

  93. Mary Portwood Artley - August 18, 2021 9:59 pm

    It is coming up on the 31st year since my mom died at age 59 after a two-year battle of lung cancer with metastasis to her brain. She was my best friend and my biggest cheerleader throughout my life. You and Jamie have now started a rollercoaster ride of emotions that eventually will become a more level ride but will never stop. Hold onto each other and the love you have for each other as well as the love you had with your dear Mother Mary.

  94. Robert L Chiles - August 18, 2021 11:24 pm

    Those who love much, grieve much. It takes as long as it takes, which is the rest of your lives. Be sure to lean towards each other. Hug. And hug some more. May God gently tend your broken hearts. You both did the very best you could have done. Some day, you’ll be able to laugh at some of those wonderful memories- don’t feel bad or guilty when a laugh comes, but now, it’s just time to be sad. Sending love.

  95. Frank Burner - August 19, 2021 12:12 am

    Phenomenal essay. So touching and right to the heart of grief and loss. I appreciated it so much.

  96. Verna Kays - August 19, 2021 5:21 am

    A gift you give us…letting us share in your grief…God love you both…

  97. Dianne - August 19, 2021 5:22 am

    Tears again, Sean, and right from your heart. I was in the same place last December when my husband died in his sleep beside me.

  98. Lynn Carol Owen - August 19, 2021 3:09 pm


  99. Maryellen - August 20, 2021 2:22 pm

    Sending deepest condolences to you and your wife on the passing of her dear Mother. May she rest forever in God’s arms and may God see you both through this profoundly sad time.

  100. Judy Pressley - August 20, 2021 2:39 pm

    Sean it has been 2years and 9 months since my husband died. I sat with him from the time he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer until he passed two weeks later due to bleeding out internally from the disease. Every day I cry. I feel like the sadness will consume me covering me in waves that tumble me under until I resurface gasping later in the day. It’s exhausting and draining but I move through it trudging with the steadfast assurance of my therapist that I will surely make it through. But it will take time. Since he has been gone that is all I have. Time. Time to relive our life. Time to mourn what we had and what I have lost. Remembering that until death do us part is true. For him but not for me.

  101. annemarielillis - August 20, 2021 9:40 pm

    Sean, the *shhhhhhhh* sound is a comforting sound that soothes infants fairly quickly. Research has shown that when you *shhhhhhhhhhhh* in their little ears and hold them tight and sway a little, they calm right down. It reminds babies of the womb. After reading your post I realized that I *shhhhhhhhh* when I am comforting someone too. Maybe it’s a universal, primordial comforting sound?

    Thank you for sharing your family’s journey as you helped Mother Mary transition to her new life. Life on the other side just got a lot more lively now that she is there! Let us know when you get signs that she is still around.

    As you go through the grieving process, may you and your family feel comforted by the fun and sassy memories you have of her. And put your ear against your computer speaker so I can whisper something. Ready? Shhhhhhhhhhhhh, shhhhhhhhh, shhhhhhhhhhh….

  102. Robin George - August 21, 2021 6:21 pm

    Sean I’m so sorry for your and Jamie’s great loss. Mother Mary would be so proud of the love and tenderness you are giving to her baby, and hopefully to yourself.
    ❤️ Robin


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