I hope you have a sunny day. No matter who you are, no matter where you live. I hope the sun shines. I hope you wander outdoors and let the sunlight overtake you like chickens on a junebug.
Yes, I know sunlight won’t cure all problems. But it’s a good place to start.
I say this because I know how sad you get sometimes. Also, I know how this feels because I get sad, too. Which is why I can safely say: you’re not fooling anyone when you claim you’re doing okay. I think you and I both know this is wholesale-grade malarkey.
You’re in the dumps. Admit it. Sure, you keep a brave smile nailed to your face, but it’s plastic. This is a pandemic. You are having a hard time right now. Believe me, I get it.
Pandemic-wise, one of the most difficult things for me is bumping into friends who pretend that this year hasn’t been hard. They say they’re doing fine. They shrug off all problems and insist that the last 300-some days have been a day at the goofy golf.
“No way!” they say. “This year hasn’t changed me.” They insist they’ve kept smiling. They’ve had fun. They’ve installed a deck. Rented a blow-up bouncy house. I find myself privately wishing for extremely committed door-to-door evangelists to visit their neighborhoods.
Because this year HAS been hard. You try to be cheerful. But no sooner have you convinced yourself to be upbeat than you wander into the supermarket and things just get weird.
Sometimes it feels as if your every movement is being narrated by Rod Serling. Employees wear hazmat suits. Cashiers in welding masks take your temperature with radar guns.
Although by now you’re used to this. It’s not nearly as bad it was when the whole pandemic started. Boy howdy. Remember those first few months? Those were a shock to the old cardiovascular muscle, weren’t they? Let’s be honest: they were hell.
Every day something frightening was happening. It was like dominoes falling. Schools shut down. Lives were halted. The shortage on Charmin Ultra Soft left me feeling raw.
I don’t need to replay the grisly events, you were here. These things made you blue. And you’ve BEEN blue for over a year. Some mornings are better than others, but each day is an uphill charge.
This is especially true when the weather gets bad.
Don’t get me started on crummy weather. I can take the hard times; I can get through the decimation of civilized normality; I can endure the endless fighting between disgruntled people; I can even tolerate generic supermarket-brand toilet tissue that is suited for sanding boat hulls. But when it rains for 40 days and 40 nights, I become a nutcase.
This year in Florida we have had so much rain that I’ve been stuck inside for weeks sometimes. And when my backyard floods, my house feels like Alcatraz.
I realize not everyone has been trapped at home like me. Many are out there in public every day, earning a living. That’s harder.
One young woman wrote to me and said since the pandemic began, she has been working overtime in retail, sometimes wearing a paper mask for 12 hours daily.
Another man wrote and said he’s been working three jobs just to afford Internet, phone, and Michelob.
So don’t tell me you’re not blue. How stupid do you think I am? Don’t answer that.
Maybe the hardest part this year is the idea that the normalcy we grew up with has disappeared. Will we still be shaking hands when this is over? How about hugs? Karaoke microphones? I read another article claiming that this coming year, some churches are doing DIY baptisms.
Which probably isn’t true, but it doesn’t matter whether it’s true, because the mere idea gets you down. Pondering the future is a surefire cake recipe for sadness. Uncertainty is the pits. Fear is even worse.
Fear. It’s in our drinking water. Nobody tells you that depression feels a lot like moderate fear. Fear makes you lose that glint of giddiness you once felt. Fear makes food taste blah. Fear changes your brain.
All your good habits go out the window. Bad habits multiply. Little Debbie, for example, is probably not one of my proudest pastimes.
Meanwhile, people like you and I are fully aware that this isn’t the WORST time in history. We’re not dummies, we understand that, yes, our ancestors had things far worse than we do. We understand that compared to our tough and heroic forbears we modern Americans are cranky toddlers. But this kind of thinking doesn’t make anything easier. This doesn’t soften my toilet paper.
It is for this reason that I wish for you a happy, bright, blindingly sunny day. One you can sink your teeth into.
Certainly, I realize mere sunshine won’t take away sadness. But perhaps knowing that a guy you’ve never met feels like you do will remind you that you aren’t alone out there. It’s not much.
But it’s a good place to start.
Martha Black - April 6, 2021 7:06 am
“Mere sunshine won’t take away sadness. But perhaps knowing that a guy you’ve never met feels like you do will remind you that you aren’t alone out there. It’s not much.
But it’s a good place to start.”
Sean Dietrich | April 6, 2021 at 6:41
Amen, brother, Amen!
Melissa - April 6, 2021 8:13 am
It does help to know others are feeling the same things I am. No, I haven’t acknowledge that to anyone else. To everyone else I am fine. I’m their therapist after all. Who would trust me if I told the truth and said I was as down in the dumps as they are? But, therapists are humans too and we catch the same crap going around as everyone else. That’s why therapists all have therapists of their own. But, frequently, you are better than my therapist. This is one of those times. Thanks for publishing this.
Nancy Thomaston Rogers - April 6, 2021 8:26 am
Yes, it helps to know that I am not alone.
Meredith Smith - April 6, 2021 8:40 am
Sean, thank you for so innately knowing your audience. I’m the girl who pastes the smile on her face and pretends it’s all ok. Probably out of habit from the epilepsy …. same thing, “Oh I’m great!” Little do they know. But who wants to be unloaded upon re seizures, not driving, 15 meds a day and their side effects, brain fog, loneliness…. So, yeah I’m great! 🙂. And then add the pandemic 😷. Thank you Sean, you are a true soothsayer. Knock on wood (this is the place where you knock on the closest piece of wood), the pandemic has been “good” to my husband and I. We’re both vaccinated, it’s just us so we can manage our actions.
Anyway thank you. I pray daily for those impacted by covid, some are people close to me. And I pray for you, Jamie, and both dogs. Hold them close and love them.
Dianne - April 6, 2021 9:41 am
Another big thank you, Sean. I am normally a sunshine kind of person, but due to some events in my life the past four months, there has been more rain than sunshine. I know the sunshine will return again, and your columns and God make that possible. Thank you!
Ann - April 6, 2021 10:30 am
Ok Sean,it has been a hellish year and beyond, but most of us are still here. We are being fed fear every day and that keeps us blue and scared and submissive BUT we do have HOPE! The sun still rises …things are opening up….we can see more people …and we’re STILL being fed fear…BUT.. faith, love and moving forward physically and mentally is what we must do AND CAN do. Nothing is ever the same but we can make things better every day one second at a time. Try a hug….it’s OK and “ it’s gonna be all right”
Kat - April 6, 2021 2:07 pm
🙏🌸🥰YES! I believe there’s a book by the name,”Everything will be OK “ 🙏🌸🥰
Bar - April 6, 2021 11:22 am
Thanks for being there, Sean; your words always help.
Danny - April 6, 2021 12:26 pm
A lot of what you said Sean is very true. But not applicable to everyone. As I’m sure you know, different levels of fear impact people in different ways. Many that are dealing with depression from this pandemic were likely dealing with it beforehand. Some people are sad due to the loss of a loved one, while others are sad because they can’t sit at their favorite pub and have an IPA. I’ve lost a dear friend and a great-aunt due to this pandemic and can say it saddened me greatly. But like with death, we remember the person for who they were and move on. I just signed up for your blog and can tell I’m going to enjoy your writings.
Sharon Brock - April 6, 2021 12:36 pm
I visited my sister and brother-in-law on Easter Sunday for the first time in 16 months. Our hugs lasted for five minutes. All three of us are fully vaccinated but we still wore masks in public places. I was light-hearted for the first time in months. We will get through this. Thank you for lightening the load Sean. I so look forward to your column. Deepest regards to you, Jamie, and Mother Mary. And to Otis and Thelma Lou.
Kemie - April 6, 2021 1:19 pm
I noticed a grammatical error. Would it help you to know what it is? Or would it just make you feel worse?
Linda Cooley - April 6, 2021 1:25 pm
I’ve just discovered your “column”, “blog”.. and I’ve so enjoyed them. But, I hadn’t read comments before today! I love reading the responses! Many are mirrors to my own.
Leigh Amiot - April 6, 2021 1:44 pm
It’s been a tough road to hoe, for sure. I’m not dealing with sadness presently, but perhaps a bit of survivor’s guilt. The very day my husband and I got our first covid vaccine in the parking lot of the local hospital, a friend of his lay dying inside, didn’t live out that day. Bureaucratic ineptitude and media driven fear in this country didn’t help things for those whom covid didn’t take. I abandoned social media and decreased news consumption dramatically. My husband and I were among those working madly on projects in and around the home. Dear friends of mine from childhood were kept away from their mother for the last half year of her life, only allowed to visit her by appointment in hospice the last week of her life. They were a very tight family, and those type wounds are the ones which concern me most, the pain of them lingering long after the day when this pandemic will be declared over.
Leigh Amiot - April 6, 2021 6:20 pm
(row to hoe)
KATY @ 10 am - April 6, 2021 2:03 pm
🥰🌽🌸🥳🌽 I’m with you, Sean !
I’m going to the grocers right this minute to buy some fresh/ frozen ears of sugar corn which I will slather with copious amounts of sweet butter and salt and enjoy ! It’s about time to eat some sunshine ! Who’s with me? 🥰🌽🌸🥳🌽
Danny - April 6, 2021 2:14 pm
Very well put, Leigh. We are often passed information by the media regarding the pandemic (truthful or not) and end up with more questions than answers which heightens people’s fears even more. I would take bits of information from different sources and make up my own judgement of what’s going on and how to handle it. But now it’s hard to trust any information we get. For instance the number of current COVID cases. Some media outlets say “increased number of cases” and “new variants”. I work in healthcare and can only judge the numbers as it relates to where I work…and the numbers are WAY down…which is a huge relief. I’m sorry you are suffering from a little bit of “survivor’s guilt”, but I suffer from gratefulness.
Leigh Amiot - April 6, 2021 6:17 pm
Gratitude is good, I’m glad to be alive, crushed that others didn’t get the vaccine soon enough. The current numbers at our local hospital are down from low 90s to low teens in 2021! (110K approx county population). I suspect the media will try to keep people mired in fear when we actually can begin emerging from the pandemic restrictions. No trust there, too many coulds and mights instead of what actually is.
Joy - April 6, 2021 2:23 pm
Then here in Galveston, Tx, we had a freeze! I jokingly said, “when are the locusts coming?” And sure enough, cicadas are here instead!
Jan - April 6, 2021 2:35 pm
“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy …” So does John Denver and you, Sean!
Nancy - April 6, 2021 3:09 pm
We have three 5×8 foot windows across the front of our house. They look down on the river. We have the best location in town. And yes, the sun is shining in. I’m happier when the sun shines (as long as it’s not 90+!).
We were vaccinated in Jan/Feb. I got to hug my grandkids and their parents last week for the first time in a year—one set of them anyway.
Jill - April 6, 2021 3:14 pm
Wishing you too, a sunny day.
Debbie Balling - April 6, 2021 3:17 pm
Thank you for acknowledging our difficult year. I am retired and could not go to my volunteer gigs. I miss shakinghands but most of all I missed hugging new friempnds and old friends. The sunshine does help. The blue sky is glorios as are the daffodils, cherry trees and azaleas.
I am fully vaccinated now so I sendyou a very big hug. You have helped me remember how to smile this past year.❤️
Norma Den - April 6, 2021 3:37 pm
Great column today. Was feeling lower than a mine shaft. Yes the sun did shine here in South Africa thanks, though a huge black cloud has formed & a storm brewing. Life can suck, and for me, is sucking right now……..various things, from teenage psychological problems, health problems for some, Alzheimer’s in another case. Ah well, as you say our ancestors in whatever part of the world might have had it worse. We will survive, we are strong, God love you. 🌞 may the sun shine on you though I have measurements for an Ark if you need them 🌞🌞🌞
Geoff Stamper - April 6, 2021 5:01 pm
The sun is shining in Seattle today.
Christina - April 6, 2021 5:19 pm
Some days we look for the sun to keep us alive, other days we rely on the shoulders/ columns of others to keep us going. Thanks Sean for having your porch open every day
Linda Moon - April 6, 2021 5:34 pm
Your hope is truth for me today. I wandered outdoors to be in it, along with coffee, cats, and a homemade Smoothie. So, I’m okay for now. I’m not a great pretender. And I only like malarkey from a Vaudeville Theatre Production: “Mistletoe and Malarkey”. Earlier today, I heard from one of those pretenders. “He’s Fine”, somewhat like The Secret Sisters’ song. My teeth sink more easily into bright cold days with a few flurries of snow mixed in. ANY day, really, is a good one for me….still alive and well after almost 16 years of surviving the C-word three major times with some others thrown in that help to keep me grateful.. That, my fellow survivors, and a writer/ musician/storyteller I’ve met bring me a good start every day. Thank you, Guy!
Bill - April 6, 2021 6:00 pm
MAM - April 6, 2021 6:16 pm
Thanks for an out loud laugh about the lack of Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper leaving you feeling raw! I was one of those seniors fighting for the last package of Ultra Soft! I lost to someone who ran me down with his cart. It’s amazing how you can eke out your last roll until you find some more! And I did hit the jackpot. That was a great day! Ah, the little things that can make your day happy! Toilet paper and sunshine! Thank you for your daily dose of reality, humor and sunshine, Sean!
Mary LouGriffin - April 6, 2021 9:18 pm
Eat the Little Debbie’s in the sunshine. That makes me really happy!
Steve Winfield (Lifer) - April 7, 2021 2:07 am
Well… I really hope this doesn’t upset anyone but my year has been just fine. Great actually. Work’s been awesome. My family has stayed healthy. I’m self employed & don’t get stimulus checks but I haven’t needed them.
I really hate that so many have had it bad. I do pray that things will improve for them soon. I thank God daily for my great life.
As bad as I hate it, I’ve gotten used to wearing the mask. I’m really looking forward to not having to wear one.
God bless you all in Jesus name.
Love to everyone from Alabama.
Te Burt - April 7, 2021 1:16 pm
I’m having a bright sunny 85F day! Gonna give dogs a bath. But I have to say, being retired and a person who LIKES to stay at home, this year hasn’t been bad. I ignored most of the mask requirements. In fact, none of my friends wore one unless some business demanded it, and most of the time, we just walked out. We went out to dinner same as always. We played pool, same as always. We shopped maskless, same as always. In fact, we all considered the rest of the world was a bunch of idiots who let fear rule their lives! So, a bright sunny day means I get to wash the dogs!
Barbara W McKinley - April 7, 2021 1:36 pm
Thank you, Sean. I’ve shared this with my list of ‘ Covid/Quarantine readers/friends. It will comfort some of them, and perhaps, as you so often do, make their days a little easier.
Barbara W McKinley
Kathi harper-hill - April 9, 2021 5:27 pm
The strange thing for me is 2020 wasn’t nearly as bad as 2019. In 2019 I got up one morning and my leg gave way and suddenly I couldn’t walk. I was in excruciating pain. I’d just passed 2 kidney stones and thought that was painful. I was in a wheelchair and on pain medications while doctors pondered over what was wrong, then what to do about it. After medication and aquatic physical therapy I was just getting on my feet when I was struck with a death threatening illness (after passing another kidney stone). After much blood drawing and doctor fretting by day 3 in the hospital it was determined I had e-coli blood sepsis, which kills you. Fortunately for me, the physical therapist was less than a mile from the emergency room, or as the ER doc said, “You’d be deader than you nearly were.” Five days in the hospital, sent home on bedrest and massive antibiotics to continue by mouth, I had to start over the next month with physical therapy. And though I’m walking again (thank God) I am in constant pain. See why 2020 wasn’t so bad for me?
Kaye Stephens - April 11, 2021 1:23 am
My days are sunny despite the virus. Too much to be thankful for to be in the dumps!!! It could be because I’m not on one of those four platforms (?) shown below this message!
Karen - May 7, 2021 8:26 pm
I don’t know why this column suddenly appeared on my computer screen just now (or maybe I really do) but it was just what I needed today. We had to put my 14 yr old cat to sleep this morning, after a brief but dramatic illness. I had just told Mikey (the cat) the other day that I needed him to get better, because I really needed his company after my husband of 60 years died suddenly on Christmas Eve. I believe I heard Mikey say in the middle of the night that his buddy in heaven really needed him. I assured him that it was OK to go, but it has been a really sad day. Our other cat Charlie is also in mourning. Instead of meowing loudly for breakfast, he went back to bed and slept on Mikey’s spot until after noon. A long lifetime of losses never dulls the edge of today’s loss. I am thankful the sun is shining brightly, and it reminds me that each day’s dawning begins hope afresh.