Becca is 10 years old. She waits for me patiently outside the restaurant because—big surprise—I am late for our meeting. I will be late for my own cremation.
Becca’s hair is pulled into a side ponytail. She is wearing corduroy pants, floral top, and roper boots. The girl sits waiting, grasping her guide cane. Her eyelids are closed. She is smiling. Becca, I will soon learn, always smiles.
Becca’s mother makes our formal introductions. The little girl presents her hand. We shake.
“Nice to meet you,” she says, pumping my hand in her tiny grip.
“Nice to meet you,” I say.
The restaurant is alive with sounds. The place is packed. Everyone in Sardis City must be eating at Bama Bucks steakhouse and wild game restaurant today.
Becca and I sit across from each other. Becca’s mom sits beside her and reads the menu aloud, but Becca already knows what she wants. Chicken tenders. French fries. Side of ranch.
Our server delivers hot dinner rolls. Becca’s mom guides Becca’s hands to the bread basket. And Becca is still smiling as we get to know each other.
There’s a scar underneath Becca’s jawline, from where doctors recently removed her lymph nodes.
“How are you feeling since your surgery, Becca?” I ask.
“Oh, I feel really good,” Becca says.
“Has your energy come back?”
Becca’s dad answers this one. “Becca has a lot of energy.
Becca has been blind for one year now. It’s still new. But somehow, the smile never goes anywhere.
“When I first woke up,” Becca says, “after they took out my eye, I could feel the patch on my face, and I knew what they’d done to me. It was pretty obvious. My eye was gone. I was so scared, I started screaming ‘Mom, I can’t see! I can’t see!’ But then after I got scared, you know, I was okay.”
Becca explains all this to me as she cheerfully eats a dinner roll.
“On the way home from the hospital,” says Becca’s mother, “I was crying silently so Becca wouldn’t hear me cry. And while I was crying, I heard singing coming from the backseat. It was Becca, she was smiling and singing along with the radio even though she had just lost her vision.”
Since going blind, Becca has kept busy. She has taken up the harp, cigar-box guitar, learned braille, written poetry, received a prominent role in the school play, and is planning on becoming a meteorologist.
“Actually,” says Becca, “being blind isn’t so bad. There’s been so much good stuff that has come out of my being blind.”
“What kind of stuff?” I ask.
“More people are learning about God because of me. And that’s good.”
Our food arrives. Becca’s dad asks her to say the blessing. So we all fold our hands. Becca speaks softly. The cadence of her words, the timbre of her voice, is a work no composer could duplicate. It is the sound of God’s music.
“Amen,” everyone says. Whereupon Becca drowns her fries in ranch.
After we eat, it’s time for the main event. Becca is introduced to my blind coonhound Marigold.
Marigold has been blind for a few months now. She lost her eye because her previous owner took a blunt object to her head. Doctors removed Marigold’s eye. When Marigold first woke up without her vision, she was terrified. She screamed in her kennel for days.
“I know how she feels,” says Becca.
Becca places both tiny hands on Marigold’s wounded face. “She’s so pretty,” says Becca. “So very, very pretty.”
Marigold leans into Becca, and the girl begins to laugh. It is an infectious laugh.
“It’s like Marigold is hugging me,” says Becca.
Becca and I talk more, we laugh some, we hang out. I wish I could tell you everything about her, but I don’t have enough room.
What I can tell you is that her family is beautiful. Her father, her mother, her older brother. These are the kind of people I want to be someday.
It takes us all about 30 minutes to say goodbye, because that’s just how people are in our part of the world. We do not offer quick farewells. Goodbyes in Alabama can last for three, sometimes four presidential administrations.
When we’re finished Becca gives me a hug. Then she gives Marigold a final farewell by hugging her with both arms. My cup runneth over. Becca smiles and speaks to the whole group.
“We really should do this again sometime,” she says.
Yes, Becca, we really should.
Debbie - November 14, 2022 7:39 am
Oh my goodness. Becca is completely focused on what is truly important; if only I had the same resilience. 🙏 God, continue to greatly bless this little girl. I love you, Becca.❤️
Nazem Nassar - November 14, 2022 8:53 am
Sean, pretty words indeed.
Thanks to almighty God for the blessing of Sight.
Gwen W. Young - November 14, 2022 11:14 am
You are helping my heart so much.❤️
ALLEN - November 14, 2022 11:15 am
I think I will keep smiling today because I will be thinking about Becca!
Susan - November 14, 2022 12:00 pm
What an amazing young lady. ❤️
Trudy - November 14, 2022 12:04 pm
I believe Becca and Marigold see with their hearts. Sometime we should all strive for.
kimmyjean - November 14, 2022 12:26 pm
Janet W. - November 14, 2022 12:31 pm
Thank you again for reminding us how very blessed we are!
Lyn Brown - November 14, 2022 1:07 pm
Again, good cathartic cry…thanks.
Joe - November 14, 2022 1:08 pm
Thank you for another wonderful story and a reminder of how great my blind sister is.
Anne Arthur - November 14, 2022 1:22 pm
A beautiful girl, surrounded by beautiful people and Marigold. Your story makes me smile. Keep spreading the good news, Sean, that we are surrounded by goodness.
Dennis - November 14, 2022 1:26 pm
I felt bad when I called you out swinging on three pitches. Looks like you started a new streak with this one.
Cate - November 14, 2022 1:33 pm
Joy jacobs - November 14, 2022 1:41 pm
What a blessing Marigold has been. Thanks for taking her and opening our eyes to the world as she sees it. ❤️
LynnB - November 14, 2022 2:00 pm
Becca, look how many more people just heard about God because of you! It doesn’t take eyesight to see Him clearly in your family and in your life! Thank you, sweet girl!
Streeter - November 14, 2022 2:06 pm
Thanks for sharing this story
Ginny - November 14, 2022 2:15 pm
I eagerly wait for each new offering from you, but this one is especially beautiful. And, I learned more about the sweet spirit God is willing to give even children if we’re open to His blessings!
Patricia Gibson - November 14, 2022 2:21 pm
God’s angel delivering love and courage. What a blessing!
mccutchen52 - November 14, 2022 2:29 pm
She is a true child of God. Thanks for letting me skip my morning eye drops.
Pam King - November 14, 2022 2:30 pm
Please tell us more about Becca. We need to hear more about the Becca’s in this world!
Mike McCaskill - November 14, 2022 2:40 pm
WOW…just WOW! You certainly know how to take a man down to his knees to lift a prayer to God with stories such as these! As I sit in a parking lot, I thank God for my own family, the freedom to express my faith to Almighty God, the opportunity to have you touch on the human spirit with your stories, and especially Becca and Marigold that have an uncommon bond but a deep appreciation for the love of one another! Thank you!
Mike Hill - November 14, 2022 2:44 pm
Sean, you have a great talent for making me shed a few tears with most of your columns!
Karen - November 14, 2022 2:45 pm
Becca is a living lesson on how to deal with challenges in life. Marigold is another shining example of courage. I look forward to the time Becca, you and Marigold meet again.
JonDragonfly - November 14, 2022 2:54 pm
Dee Thompson - November 14, 2022 3:44 pm
Beautiful story. I saw your photo of Becca on Facebook. Can you tell us what disease is causing her to lose her eye and her lymph nodes?
Stacey Wallace - November 14, 2022 3:56 pm
Sean, thanks so much for telling us about Becca, an extraordinary young girl. My husband and I are retired teachers, and we wish we could have taught Becca. What a blessing that would have been! We know without a doubt that she will be an amazing meteorologist. Love to you, Sean, and Marigold.
Maggie Priestaf - November 14, 2022 4:20 pm
Sean, please, please, please don’t stop writing.
Susie - November 14, 2022 4:25 pm
Sean, thank you for your heartfelt words. Also, please post a pic of your sweet Marigold.
Krisztine Kun - November 14, 2022 5:11 pm
Just when you think you’ve learned all you can about God’s grace ,along comes another story from you. May He bless you abundantly .along with my uncle Steve for sharing your stories with me.If not before…see you in our permeant home one day
Rhonda Ray - November 14, 2022 5:19 pm
As I sit in my daughters ICU room reading this with tears streaming down my face, this story could not have at a better time. I would love for Lauren to meet Becca sometime. Lauren also plays harp. Thank you, Sean, for allowing God to work through you and share this in His perfect timing. You don’t know me but I went to school with Jamie. You have done “your” hometown proud.
AlaRedClayGirl - November 14, 2022 5:20 pm
Beautiful story about a beautiful child.
Jeanne Hays - November 14, 2022 5:26 pm
Beautiful! You really have a God-given, God ordained gift! I want to be a writer like you when I grow up…but I’m already 70 something!!
David - November 14, 2022 6:17 pm
Sometimes it just seems unfair that some of us have been so stinkin blessed and others never seem to get a break even at such an early age. Becca has learned how to be content with whatever her circumstances. She must be a beautiful child. Thank you again Sean.
Melissa Brown - November 14, 2022 6:40 pm
Oh what a sweet story. You are so good with children. You and your wife should think about adoption. Y’all would be so good with children – they are so wonderful. You are never too old. – l had my son at age 40 after being told l could never have children. Praise the Lord, God made me a Mom and now l have my first grandchild, a little girl. I have been very sick and am just going to meet her this weekend. I cannot wait to get her in my arms. I hope you come near Dothan, Al. – l would love to hear you speak. I look forward to reading your story everyday. Enjoy Life !!!
Linda Moon - November 14, 2022 7:39 pm
I’m glad I just learned that Becca always smiles. It made me smile. God is so good, even in the hard stuff of life. And if you see Becca again, Sean, please tell her I enjoyed seeing her through your eyes.
Rebecca Soude4rs - November 14, 2022 10:05 pm
You really should do it again, and then we want to hear it about Becca again! Thanks, Sean Dietrich!
Chris Spencer - November 14, 2022 10:36 pm
After reading this, take all your aches and pains, worries and fears, complaints and heartaches, and throw them out the door.
Then while thinking of this precious child, count your blessings and thank God for each one.
Steve Sauer - November 14, 2022 11:19 pm
I love this column, brightened my Monday morning. The obvious question, and I know it’s none of my business: Should Marigold be Becca’s dog? Should Becca be Marigold’s human?
Melanie - November 15, 2022 4:31 am
@Steve Oh yes!
Bruce Rogers - November 15, 2022 12:40 am
After reading this, I sit here and wonder how petty I am to be so concerned over the results of an election that was predictable. I could be sitting here not able to see, walk, or speak! Such a great reminder that life has its ups and downs and with God’s Devine grace we can all look at Becca as a shining instrument of his love. Thank you Sean.
April McGough - November 15, 2022 2:53 am
Ginga - November 15, 2022 5:23 pm
Thank you, Sean, for rescuing Marigold, for loving Marigold, for loving Becca, and for writing all of your wonderful stories!!
Holly Decherd - November 15, 2022 8:14 pm
Beautiful. Hard to remember that God makes no mistakes.
Susan W Fitch - November 16, 2022 10:32 pm
Thank you, sweet Sean, for this beautiful story! Keep writing my friend and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and sweet Marigold!
Betsy Combs - November 17, 2022 1:36 am
What a beautiful story of faith and happiness in the face of such a terrible loss. It sounds like Becca totally accepted her disability and now spreads the beliefs she has by actually showing all those around her her courage and definite grace. Even with her loss, she is showing everyone how strong you can be even in the face of terrible loss. Of course, her family has also accepted her loss and also given her hope for the future!
Wayne - November 25, 2022 2:08 pm
Ain’t God good. He tells us He will never leave us or forsake us. What else do we need. We should —Aspire 2 inspire B 4 U expire.
Be blessed, I am
Wayne 1 John 4:8