We were newlyweds, living in a grungy apartment.

Each morning, I would wake before her. I would pass my morning hours writing poetry on a yellow legal pad, sipping coffee.

Mostly, I’d write the kinds of god-awful things you’d expect newlyweds to write. I’m talking painfully corny stuff. I’d leave these poems on slips of paper scattered throughout our apartment for her to find.

One such poem read:

“Together, the two of us,
“In thought, and deed, and breath, and heart,
“Shall never be lacerated apart.”

Gag me with number-two pencil. “Lacerated?” What kind of a dork uses that word? In fact, I’m not certain this verb works in this particular case.

LACERATE [verb: las-uh-reyt] lac·er·at·ed, lac·er·at·ing
1. to tear; mangle; rip. Example: “Hey dude, that poem you wrote really freakin’ lacerated.”

My wife saved all my crummy poems in a shoebox, and today they reside in a storage closet.

Anyway, when we first married, we lived in an apartment that smelled like dead squirrels. I am not being figurative. I mean our apartment actually had a nest of decomposing squirrels in the attic above our master bedroom.

The place was tiny, and about as ugly as homemade soap. The tenant before us had painted the walls black and greenish-gray. Sherwin Williams officially titled this color “Seasick Granite®.”

When we moved in, we made the place our own. We painted the walls brown and khaki. We bought a used coffee table and some scented candles.

My friend, Chubbs, found an old console television on the side of the road. I was lucky enough to claim the TV before the garbage man came.

The thing was heavier than a dead preacher, but we got it up the stairs. Chubbs, however, would suffer from severe disc degenerative problems for the rest of his life.

Our building sat across the street from a Waffle House, a Chick-fil-A, and an ice cream shop. And this is why we gained nearly fifty pounds within our first year of marriage.

We never went to the movies because we didn’t have the money. We ate Hamburger Helper without hamburger sometimes.

We saved our cash for a new window unit AC—our air conditioner was on the fritz. The thing would only work on days of the week beginning with “R.”

On weekends, every weekend, we ate donuts. It was our simple ritual, and I loved it. Krispy Kreme was only a stone’s throw from us, and when the hot-and-ready light would glow, by God, we were there.

Over donuts, we would talk for hours about nothing. Heavy doses of sugar can do things to the human mind. It can make a person honest.

She told me all her stories. I told her mine. You can do a lot of soul-searching over crullers.

My professional life was non-existent, I took whatever jobs I could get. I spent days crawling rooflines, swinging a hammer, or operating a commercial lawn mower. She worked as a preschool teacher at church, or in a kitchen.

For extra income, I played piano at a Baptist church on Sundays, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, Thursday night choir practices, and Saturday night prayer meetings.

We learned things about each other. We learned important things.

We learned how to argue in the middle of a Winn-Dixie, and how to attend two Thanksgivings in one day. How to share a sunset, seated on the hood of a truck. How to read in bed with a flimsy battery-powered book light.

We learned how to travel together with paper maps. And after years of practice, we finally learned how to make a bed together without me getting murdered.

We learned how to hold each other when loved ones die. We learned how to sit together—me reading a magazine, her playing a crossword puzzle.

We learned how to wring our hands in hospital waiting rooms. We learned how bury dogs with a shovel and a burial sheet.

We learned how to make a life together.

A lot has changed since those days, but I still wake early in the mornings to write. I don’t use a legal pad anymore, I use a laptop.

This morning, however, I did not write. Instead, I sifted through our storage closet. I found things. An old coffee-tin sewing kit, some scented candles, love poems, and the picture of a young man and his new wife in their first apartment.

In the picture, the place had ugly gray walls, but that’s the only ugly thing about this photo.

He’s holding her. She’s holding him. They are young. Their skin is smooth. I wish I could tell you how much I love these two people in the picture.

I wish you could see their faces, and their punch-drunk smiles. You can tell they belong together by looking at them. You simply know that their names should never be said apart.

It’s as though nothing bad in this life can ever touch them. As though the two of them, in thought, and deed, and breath, and heart, shall never be lacerated apart.

I suppose that word is growing on me.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Jamie.


  1. Elizabeth McPherson - February 14, 2019 6:58 am


    Happy Valentine’s day to you and your wife! You are so wonderfully talented, and we are thankful you choose to share your talent with the world.

  2. Tana Newman Branch - February 14, 2019 6:59 am

    Your love for Jamie, takes my breath away. I know there should not be a comma there, but it just seemed right. Whenever I take a breath while writing, I stick in a comma so the reader can take a breath. Write your way, love your way and dream your way, it works for me.

    • Elizabeth Edens - February 14, 2019 11:44 am


  3. Sandi in FL. - February 14, 2019 7:19 am

    What a sweet, tender tribute to Jamie on this Valentine’s Day, 2019, or any day really. Best wishes for a very Happy Valentine’s Day to both of y’all as you make more special memorires together,

  4. Brenda - February 14, 2019 8:47 am

    Beautiful, you two have been blessed.

  5. Karen - February 14, 2019 8:49 am

    I will have been married for 40 years this June. This reminds me of our early days together. I still see him the way I did when I was 25. It’s like he hasn’t really aged for me. Once, when we were in our 40’s, he pinched me on the behind in the grocery store. A woman came up to us and smiled, and said, “You are still in love.”
    How fortunate you & Jamie are, to have found each other.

  6. Mary Burns - February 14, 2019 10:47 am

    Can you just add a like button to your post? I feel like I say the same thing every time I post a comment. Like, like, like. You have said all that needs to be said. I just want you to know that I like all of your columns.

  7. Jean - February 14, 2019 11:29 am

    Happy Valentine’s Day Sean and Jamie. You are both very lucky.

  8. jeanie - February 14, 2019 12:04 pm

    How lucky you both are——-Love is wonderful. To love and be loved and know it. Some people never say the word or show it. Keep on being in love. Would love to hear more on how you learned to make the bed together—————–not happening here.

  9. turtlekid - February 14, 2019 12:07 pm

    My spouse is not romantic, he does not have that kind of personality. But he treasures me and makes me feel like I am the center of his world. Without words. I used to want the words, but have learned to accept actions, since it is all he knows. We are going on 60 rears together.

  10. Susie - February 14, 2019 12:07 pm

    Happy Valentine’s Day, sweet tribute to your beloved Jamie.❤❤

  11. Barbara - February 14, 2019 12:33 pm

    Happy Valentine’s Day to You and Jamie. ❤
    Thank you Sean once again for bringing us Peace and Good Thoughts. Your posts always takes me back in time to less stressful, more peaceful times. I have been blessed this year by the marriage of 49 years to a Wonderful man that I met when I was a part time grocery checker while in college.

  12. Keloth Anne - February 14, 2019 12:35 pm

    Happy Valentine’s Day ♥️♥️♥️♥️

  13. Connie Havard Ryland - February 14, 2019 12:49 pm

    Beautiful love letter for your valentine. I love that you are able to show your love out loud. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Jamie.

  14. Terri C Boykin - February 14, 2019 12:51 pm


  15. Jan - February 14, 2019 1:39 pm


  16. joinerscorner - February 14, 2019 1:41 pm

    You sure are making it rough on the rest of us husbands.

  17. Pc - February 14, 2019 1:46 pm


  18. Carol - February 14, 2019 1:52 pm

    Happy Valentines Day and Forever you Two❤️
    Love ya!

  19. Karen Erwin-Brown - February 14, 2019 2:06 pm

    Sweet…heavier than a dead preacher made me laugh
    ..I’m married to a live preacher.
    One day I will write about giving away our 250 lb. TV..OR MAYBE I’ll tell it to u so u can share it.

  20. Iris Davis - February 14, 2019 2:19 pm

    You are so blessed❤️

  21. Jack Darnell - February 14, 2019 2:41 pm

    Enjoy the day, always love that girl and continue to remember special words like, “Yes mam, you are right!” It has worked for us for 62 years. Practice that, ‘Lacerated is okay’, but ‘Honey you are right’ is better, because it is usually true!
    Sherry ‘n jack….. BTW Happy Valentines day to you two love birds!

  22. Barbara Pope - February 14, 2019 2:48 pm

    Sweet as candy but that squirrel smell might have been a deal breaker for me. Happy Valentine’s Day and many more!

  23. Peggy Savage - February 14, 2019 3:28 pm

    Sending hugs and love to you both. Happy Valentine’s Day….

  24. Janet Mary Lee - February 14, 2019 5:17 pm

    Happy Valentines Day to two people who learned the most important things in life! Love, Talking, Remembering, Commitment! Bless you Sean and Jamie..!

  25. Janie F. - February 14, 2019 5:28 pm

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

  26. Debbie Britt - February 14, 2019 6:58 pm


  27. Chris W. Spencer - February 14, 2019 7:03 pm

    I love the pic of you two lovebirds that you attached to today’s story. May God bless you with many, many more blessed and Happy Valentine’s day together, full of love, happiness and good health.

  28. Jess in Athens, GA - February 14, 2019 7:10 pm

    Well daggummit, I hope my wife and me are never lacerated apart either!!! My wife and I lived in some “humble” places when we first got married too, but at least we were together…and we’re still together after fifty-two years without any serious lacerations. Happy Valentines Day to you and your wife, Sean.

  29. Beverly Wynn Bua - February 14, 2019 7:41 pm

    How wonderful to have such enduring love for one another…….. ❤️

  30. Cathy Moss - February 14, 2019 9:09 pm

    May it always be this way for you and Jamie. Forever and ever, Amen???

  31. Edna B. - February 14, 2019 9:27 pm

    This is beautiful. Brings back some wonderful memories of used to be. Happy Valentines Day to you and Jamie, and Valentine’s Blessings to the fur babies from my Pogo. Hugs, Edna B.

  32. Barbara - February 14, 2019 9:54 pm

    Thanks Sean, for sharing your love story with us, Love is a special Gift from God it makes my heart smile to read about your love for Jamie. Happy Valentines ❤

  33. Shelton A. - February 14, 2019 10:31 pm

    You are a fortunate man and rich in so many ways. God bless you and Jamie…take good care.

  34. sparkerlpc - February 14, 2019 10:32 pm

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Jamie! Your precious memories make my heart glad….with nary a laceration in sight! <3

  35. Betty Voss - February 14, 2019 10:45 pm

    Keep writing! Brought memories of our early days…and the struggles, laughter, tears…but lots of love!

  36. Chasity Davis Ritter - February 14, 2019 11:25 pm

    I know it’s a private thing so you didn’t post the picture but I can still imagine it as I have one pretty close to the same thing. 23 valentines days you come along way from those young punch drunk smiling young people. But my precious husband still tries to surprise me and let me know he appreciates me. He thinks I covet those flowers and chocolates that everyone gets today little does he know it’s the breakfast he brings me to work sometimes that makes me love and appreciate him the most all year through. Happy valentines to you and Jamie from me and my Lonny.

  37. Susan - February 15, 2019 12:01 am

    The donuts remind me of 45 years ago, when we were first married, we’d go to the local bakery and I’d get an apple turnover and he’d get a piece of cheesecake. They were good times.

  38. Gaynell Lumsden - February 15, 2019 8:40 pm

    Sean and Jamie, That is sooooo sweet. I had to hold back the tears. Gee – I would so love to meet you two splendid humans (ya’ll) in this life. I’m from the South too – New Orleans. I’ve also lived in Alabama and the Panhandle of Florida – but now I’ve lived in southern Missouri for the last 10 or so years.I love you. Gaynell

  39. Mary Ellen Hall - February 16, 2019 9:55 am

    Ya’ll r BLESSED to have each other!!!?❤

  40. Kim - March 2, 2019 9:40 pm

  41. Caleb Halstead - March 14, 2019 12:43 pm

    Is that Jamie with you in the cover photo? I’m sure it must be. I have to tell you, my friend, you really out-kicked your coverage when you married her! A lot of us tend to do that.

  42. Rebecca - March 14, 2019 2:04 pm

    You are a very talented artist, too! Have you ever thought about doing a book of your sketches?


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