Life isn’t forever. I know that. Sometimes I think about this, and I’m too scared to imagine the day one of us wakes up in an empty bed.

Do you remember when we met? I do.

It was a Barnes and Noble bookstore. I was reading; you were with friends. You waltzed through the door with that determined walk you have. That I-can-take-care-of-myself walk.

There are some things a man never forgets.

You wore a baby-blue sweater. Your hair was chin-length. We must’ve talked for an hour. Two strangers. A chance meeting.

No. I take that back. I don’t believe in chances.

How about the long drives we took just for fun? We’d ride two-lane highways through the night for an excuse to talk. We’ve always been able to carry our weight in words.

I asked you to marry me. You said yes. I gave you a jeweler’s box containing the world’s tiniest diamond. It cost me every dollar I had. You wore red that night. Red.

We got married in a small chapel. We honeymooned in Charleston. We had no money for that trip, but we went anyway.

We were dumber back then. I miss being dumb.

How about our ugly apartment. Remember that place? I drove by it yesterday, for old time’s sake. The grounds were overgrown. Mold on the siding. What a dump.

Our old neighbors were still there. The same ones who had fleas that infested the whole building.

God, I loved that place.

Then there was the time I wrecked the truck. The man behind us fell asleep at the wheel. You were listening to the radio when it happened.

“Shameless,” was the song playing. I thought we were dead. It was a miracle we survived.

But then, our whole lives have been one big miracle, you know? You got me through college. You tutored me through math class. Those are miracles in themselves.

We used to argue hard sometimes. When our spats ended, we didn’t get lovey dovey like adolescents. That’s not who we are. Instead, we’d go to Pizza Hut, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, or anywhere with a buffet.

And there was the time at UAB Hospital. After your biopsy. My chest felt cold. I’ve never been so scared.

When the doctor called us into his office I thought I would vomit. I stared at his mouth when he spoke. I didn’t want to miss a sentence.

You were squeezing my hand. He said the word “benign” and we both cried. He left the office to give us privacy.

We cried a lot that day.

And here we are.

After this many years, I know our lives aren’t glamourous. I’m sorry. You could’ve married a man with money. A gentleman.

Instead, you married me—whatever I am.
We live in a home with brake lights on the back. Our queen bed has a foul-smelling coonhound in it. Our vehicles are old. My truck needs new tires; your transmission ain’t what it used to be.

But we’ve survived life together. We’ve watched good dogs die. We dug their holes. I stood beside you during your father’s funeral. You stand beside me every day. You made me who I am. It makes me feel rich to think I might make you who you are.

Life isn’t forever. I know that. Sometimes I think about this, and I’m too scared to imagine the day one of us wakes up in an empty bed.

But that day isn’t today. And so I thank the moon, the stars, the sun, and their maker.

I am thankful for life. For love. For us.

And for people you meet by chance in bookstores.


  1. Carolyn Castleman - February 14, 2018 7:51 am

    Your entries warm my heart.
    Thank you

  2. theholtgirls - February 14, 2018 8:00 am

    How fitting – that y’all met in a place surrounded by words! Your words bring happiness and introspection to a lot of people. Thank you, Sean. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  3. Cathi - February 14, 2018 9:34 am

    Happy Valentine’s Day Sean, Jamie & Ellie Mae. It is a teary time for me because my 17 year old part Basset Hound will be heading for the Rainbow Bridge soon. She’s been with me a looong time and Diva that she is, she’s never allowed me to give her anything but the best. My Peach, my BFF & Spirit Animal, is moving on to expect excellence from the Supervisor at the Bridge. And I have no doubt she’ll get it. ❤

  4. candyalso - February 14, 2018 10:38 am

    Happy Valentine’s Day Jamie and Sean!

  5. Sandi in FL - February 14, 2018 10:52 am

    Hi Sean. What a fond remembrance you’ve penned for Jamie . . .a wonderful gift on Valentine’s Day. I wish that we, your readers, could hear from Jamie as to her version of meeting you at the book store. Will you please ask her and then post it here? Best wishes for a Happy Valentine’s Day!

  6. Nancy - February 14, 2018 10:52 am

    What a wonderful and special love you have. I am blessed to be married to my best friend and a man that makes me laugh. We sure are the lucky ones. Happy Valentine’s Day to you two amazing people and one awesome dog!

  7. CaroG87 - February 14, 2018 11:07 am

    Happy V-Day, you two crazy kids. Keep going; you give some of us old cynics hope.

  8. sdkulwicki - February 14, 2018 12:11 pm

    Your words always start my day with a smile. Thank you for sharing. I, too have found that kind of love. It is a miracle and a gift.

  9. Connie - February 14, 2018 12:14 pm

    Beautiful love story. I hope your story continues for many years, but no matter what, you are blessed to have each other. Love and hugs and blessing to you both.

  10. janiesjottings - February 14, 2018 12:24 pm

    Beautiful! Such a beautiful love story. Both of you are blessed.

  11. Robin Espinoza - February 14, 2018 12:33 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder of the true meaning of this crazy life. Love. Just love. ❤️❤️

  12. Deb - February 14, 2018 12:44 pm

    Love this sweet heartfelt sentiment. All those things make you the richest man ever.

  13. Brenda Kern - February 14, 2018 1:30 pm

    Great love story that I hope continues for many years to come. Happy Valentine’s Day, Jamie and Sean. Don’t forget to give Ellie Mae a hug for me. ❤️?❤️?❤️

  14. Betty Odom - February 14, 2018 1:53 pm

    Happy Valentines Day you two!!

  15. Joan Raines - February 14, 2018 2:01 pm


  16. Sue Cronkite - February 14, 2018 2:08 pm

    Happy Valentine’s Day! Your column today is fantastic! Give ‘er a great big hug.

  17. Jan - February 14, 2018 3:41 pm

    Beautiful story of a beautiful love and a very special life together!

  18. Jack Darnell - February 14, 2018 3:57 pm

    It shouldn’t matter to me that a man loves his wife this much, but it does. I have loved this lady here for over 61 years. I don’t remember as well as you but I do remember the feelings. Thanks for putting things into words for me. SWEET!

  19. lavenderlady - February 14, 2018 4:47 pm

    On this Valentine’s Day I have no one but an old cat by my side, but I remember those feelings you wrote about. Thank you for rekindling my old memories of a different time and a wonderful man.

  20. Jack Quanstrum - February 14, 2018 4:48 pm

    Life is certainly a journey! Miracle story!

  21. Debra - February 14, 2018 5:28 pm

    Lovely! Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Jamie. ❤️

  22. Betsy Dozier - February 14, 2018 5:39 pm

    Love this Valentine’s Day read.

  23. Carol J. - February 14, 2018 5:47 pm

    Your message brings tears to my eyes and an ache in my heart. I wake up to an empty bed. My wonderful husband passed away three years ago and the pain is still unbearable. You are blessed. Hang onto each other.

  24. Jennifer Feist - February 14, 2018 5:48 pm

    My husband woke up early wanting to write a valentine’s note for me. He read this in our email and said it helped put into words how he feels about our story together. Thanks Sean!

  25. Sandra - February 14, 2018 5:55 pm

    Smiles and a few tears for true love. My hubby and I celebrate 37 years today . We saved each other .♡ Best to you and your wife.

  26. Ed - February 14, 2018 7:05 pm

    You gotta be the second luckiest guy in the world to love someone that much. To be loved in return.
    Congratulations on this Valentines Day.

    Sez the luckiest guy
    She chose me
    She stayed by me
    Thick and thin
    Thanks be

  27. elainenkarrh - February 14, 2018 7:16 pm

    What a priceless gift to your wife on Valentine’s Day…Lovely,just lovely.

  28. D. White - February 14, 2018 8:27 pm

    Every time I get on the computer I look forward to reading your story. Never disappointed. Thank you for each one!!!

  29. Steve Welch - February 14, 2018 8:40 pm

    Damn Sean! If your wife reads this AND you do not have a great Valentine’s Day, it is your fault.

  30. Maxine - February 14, 2018 11:50 pm

    Sean, I wake up to an empty bed every morning and will for however many years the good Lord has in store for me. Don’t waste a minute of your and Jamie’s time together. Love you for your words, the happy stories and the sad, all give me comfort in knowing I’m not alone in a world sometimes seeming to have gone mad.

  31. Jody - February 15, 2018 1:23 am

    Valentine’s Day is a great day for reflection. Thanks for sharing your special story. ❤️❤️

  32. John - February 15, 2018 1:35 am

    You get me every time……I still hold out hope I will find someone like you have. Thank you for making me long for what you have.

  33. Marty from Alabama - February 15, 2018 3:52 am

    Sean Dietrich, you are a 100% sentimental mush-mouth and I love the way you just tell it like it is. You tell Jamie she is one lucky lady, but you are one lucky guy. You were made for each other and you are a semi-perfect couple. Semi because nothing is perfect on this side of eternity. May you two share at least 75 more Valentine’s Days together.
    You make my heart sing!

  34. Margo McGinness - February 15, 2018 2:33 pm

    So beautifully written. Your wife is a lucky gal to have such a sweet, sensitive soul in charge of taking care of her sweet, sensitive soul. I have been reading your column for a year now, cried, sighed, laughed at many. I have throughly enjoyed getting to know you and wish you and your darling wife and smelly coonhound were our neighbors.
    Margo McGinness

  35. Joan Workman - February 15, 2018 10:38 pm

    Remembering the days in the 40’s & 50’s makes life a little more enjoyable. I could go back to those days and love every minute of it, now looking on hindsight, there are so many things I wish I had done when the world was not in such chaos and life was so simple and HONEST.

  36. Susie Munz - February 22, 2018 2:10 am

    I’m glad you both went to the bookstore! You are both just right for each other!

  37. Edna B. - March 16, 2018 9:17 am

    What a beautiful story. There’s just me and my little dog now. I’m so thankful for all the wonderful years, and I’m ever so thankful for my little dog who greets me every morning with a doggy kiss. Enjoy every day with each other. Hugs, Edna B.

  38. Rebecca Souders - May 3, 2018 3:57 pm

    For more than a
    year after my husband of 44 years passed, I woke up every morning surprised that I was alone. As you recounted with your own partnership, I remember my husband’s and my first meeting. And I will not forget saying good-bye. It is not easy.


Leave a Comment