I’m writing this in the early morning. The birds are asleep, the crickets, too. The sun is about to rise, and it’s going to rise just for you. There is a faint glow behind the trees. I can see it. Just wait. It’s coming.
I received a letter this morning from a girl I’ll call Caroline. Caroline is eighteen. She told me about herself.
“I feel ugly and I know that’s why I’ve never had a boyfriend… I probably never will have one. People don’t like me, and I’m worried that nobody will ever love me.”
Here’s another letter from a man we’ll refer to as “Elvis”—because that’s what he wanted to be called if I wrote about him. Elvis is forty-four.
“My ex-wife broke my heart… Why is it I end up trusting somebody and they break my heart, and instead of hating THEM, I dislike MYSELF somehow? I don’t like myself…”
And then this beautiful young woman:
“I have an arteriovenous malformation… Which is why my arm doesn’t work, and now it’s moving to my leg. The malformation started small, but has grown to the size of a tennis ball, giving me daily seizures and other obstacles…
“The hardest part about all this is being forgotten. I used to have a lot of friends before my diagnosis, but now…
“I get that people are busy, but is life really about being busy?”
Well, I hate to disappoint these good people who’ve written me, but they’re talking to the wrong guy. I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout nothin’.
The only thing I can possibly think to tell these good folks, something that might possibly comfort them, is about what happened to me during my seventh-grade year.
First, a little background: my seventh-grade year was shaping up to be a good one. Often, in the school cafeteria I’d have my pals laughing until milk spilled from their noses and they lost control of their lower intestines.
Then, September 14th happened.
The newspaper reported that my father swallowed the barrel of his hunting rifle. And my adolescent life went to hell. I dropped out of school. I became a faceless nobody—at least that’s how I felt.
I’ll never forget asking my friend’s sister on a date, years later, when I was 17. She turned me down. So I tried again. Strike two. Finally I asked her, point-blank, what was wrong with me.
“Well,” she said. “All that stuff with your family, I don’t wanna be with anybody who’s, I don’t know, screwed up.”
Screwed up. How about them tomatoes?
Still, that girl was actually doing me a favor because later that same year, I met another girl. She was a kind soul. She was quirky, outgoing, and she wore mismatched shoes. We never dated, we were only friends.
She was missing her right hand—she lost it in a horrific accident as a child. But this didn’t hold her back. She was a lifeguard, a guitarist, an artist, and a comedian.
Late one night—I’ll never forget this—she and her younger brother knocked on my bedroom window. The girl said: “You wanna watch the sun come up?”
“But, it’s midnight,” I reminded them.
“So?” she said. “That means we have six hours. C’mon.”
I joined them on the beach. They brought jugs of coffee, a pocket radio, a deck of cards, potato chips, and blankets. Her brother brought his girlfriend.
For six hours we all sat on the sand. There was no necking, it wasn’t like that. We were friends. Buddies who talked, laughed, sipped Folgers and stayed awake until the sun soared above the mighty Gulf of Mexico.
When the first sliver of light showed, the girl shot to her feet and ran along the beach, waving arms in the air. So did the others.
I thought they’d lost their minds.
She sprinted toward me, grabbed me, and pulled me to my feet.
“C’mon!” she yelled. “This sunrise is special. This one is JUST for you!”
I felt myself whoop and holler with them. I had no idea what we were so excited about, or why. We ran on the sand and cheered the arrival of the sun.
I’m older now. My whooping and hollering days are over—unless it’s the Iron Bowl. But right now, you should see what I’m seeing. It’s worth hollering about.
The sun. It’s large. Bright. Yellow. It’s here to wake up the whole world. The skies are unfolding. The crickets are singing about its arrival. The birds are applauding its entrance. I feel warmth on my face.
You’re on my mind. I know it’s hard, but just hold on for a few more minutes, whoever you are. You’re not alone. Look into the sky. Your redemption draweth nigh. Get out your phone. Take a picture of the sky. Share it with someone.
Because this sunrise is for you.
oldlibrariansshelf - July 27, 2022 6:22 am
Thanks, Sean, for reminding me of being redeemed.
Steve McCaleb - July 27, 2022 6:46 am
Kid…you may not know nothin about nothin but you know a lot about spreading hope, sunshine and self confidence. You sell yourself way to short, what you’ve got is worth more than all of what passes for knowledge these days. You have a rare gift. Don’t sell it short.There’s a WHOLE lot of people out here who need it. Thank you my friend.
Kathy Saunders - July 27, 2022 7:03 pm
Amen & AMEN 🙌!
🇿🇦🇿🇦Norma Den - July 27, 2022 6:47 am
My heart goes out to those kids. Take it from me, everyone, at some stage, feels unloved, ugly & worthless, but then, miracle of all miracles, you see the sun rise & just feel that special connection. No matter where you are, north or south, the sun will always rise, if not today, then tomorrow or another day, wait for it. The sun will rise 🌞🌞. Be the best YOU that only you can be. God loves you as you are.
Steve Winfield (lifer) - July 27, 2022 7:36 am
And it should be. No matter how hard you are on yourself it will get better. Years will pass. You’ll quit being so hard on yourself. You’ll realize that even the prettiest, most popular people have issues. Usually big ones.
We’re all pretty equal when it comes down to it. Years from now you’ll start to see that’s true. When you finally do, stuff won’t bother you much anymore.
You’ll smile at the messed up person in the checkout line just as much as you smile at the movie star. About half will smile back.
You’ll finally figure it out. We all got issues & it ain’t no biggie.
Never was. Never will be.
Hope you see this sooner than later.
I’m praying for ya.
Steve in Bessemer.
Steve Winfield (lifer) - July 27, 2022 7:38 am
Where’s my comment?
Steve Winfield (lifer) - July 27, 2022 7:43 am
This is messed up.
Are my comments blocked?
Debbie - July 27, 2022 9:25 am
Steve, I can see your comment just fine.
Steve Winfield (lifer) - July 27, 2022 10:18 am
It took a while.
Mark - July 27, 2022 8:13 am
Woke up at 3:30am looking for something or anything interesting on my iPhone and your article plopped into my inbox and was just perfect. Thanks.
Ed (Bear) - July 27, 2022 8:57 am
I don’t believe that there’s a single person on the planet that doesn’t have problems of some sort. I think we write to you because we are hurting. Because we know you are an over comer. We want to overcome too and are hoping for some of what you got… which is the ability to see the good, the funny, and then perhaps we too could write prolifically about it like you do. I don’t think that we expect you to heal us. I think we simply love you and see you as a good friend. Someone to watch the sunrise with.
Ann Thompson - July 27, 2022 9:54 am
Lovely. “Here comes the sun little darlin’, everything is going to be alright”. ☀️
Charles Musser - July 27, 2022 10:04 am
You have great wisdom. It doesn’t matter at all. If it does then find new friends.
Joy Jacobs - July 27, 2022 10:09 am
I too am a sunrise lover. Any sunrise will work but sunrise on the beach can’t be beat.. It’s a new day, full of possibilities. ❤️
Cheryl Karpen - July 27, 2022 10:51 am
Thank you for giving us a sunrise smile and a heaping amount of hope and humanity.
Patrick Wolfe - July 27, 2022 11:07 am
Sean is that friend girl still on your friend list. I would have to find her and let her know how wonderful she is. Maybe you just did!!
Paul McCutchen - July 27, 2022 11:15 am
Sometimes writing to you just to get something off our chest helps. Writing can get things out of your mind and off your chest so you can move on with your life. Listening is a lost art because a lot of people don’t listen. They are waiting to tell you something else.
WayneGina Yount - July 27, 2022 11:20 am
Thank you! So many of us needed exactly that today! ❤️😭❤️😭❤️
Trent - July 27, 2022 11:30 am
Matthew 10:29-31 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?[i] And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Jean Sherrill - July 27, 2022 11:43 am
Patricia Collins - July 27, 2022 11:47 am
Check your Facebook page, there’s a sunrise just for you !
Jeanie Morelock - July 27, 2022 12:36 pm
Bravo!!! What a beautiful way to tell everyone that THEY are important and worth it! God loves us and gives everyone a new opportunity at life every morning with the rising sun! We ARE loved!!!!
Regina Vanderneut - July 27, 2022 12:40 pm
Well you didn’t share Jesus with these wonderful people who trust you with their anxieties and hurts but what a beautiful answer you gave them. The the sun has always comforted me. I see a piece of my GREAT GOD AND HIS PRECIOUS SON in that creation so warm. bright. AND. consoling! You have more consultation in you than scrinks!!!!!
Cora - July 27, 2022 1:01 pm
Thank you, we all need to be reminded of the beauty surrounding us every day. I enjoy the beauty of sunrises, sunsets, and love to see a beautiful starry night sky. Add the bonus of a full moon and it’s a special reminder of God’s handiwork. Sadly, I have been spending less time enjoying these simple pleasures and spending too much time on worrisome world events and personal disappointments. I agree with Ed, a sunrise/sunset is better shared. Today’s a good day to make some changes.
Sandra Bourdon - July 27, 2022 1:07 pm
Just lovely. And all the rest of the days we have are also just for us Thank you for that reminder.
Ann Williams - July 27, 2022 1:07 pm
Beautiful. Just Beautiful. Thank you.
Cynthia Sand - July 27, 2022 1:28 pm
Dear Sean, I nearly choked on my flax meal chocolate muffin with yogurt and berries as I read your Sunrise story. That bursting forth at the sunrise with the free spirit girl did it. That sunrise “just for you”. Been there many times. So amazing. Have you ever watched a full moon set over the Gulf? I live on the west coast of Florida and was told about this amazing occurrence from a guy in produce at Publix after sharing with him that I was having a great day because I just caught the sunrise on Siesta. Moonset is pure magic too. Hope you’ve caught one or two! See you at the sunrise!
Diane Bailey - July 27, 2022 1:43 pm
To Caroline, Elvis, beautiful young woman, and Sean, I hold you in my heart today and lift prayers as you come to mind. You are known, loved, and vital to your space. Your life matters. It’s your job to apply it to those around you. ❤️
Lori West - July 27, 2022 1:44 pm
Thank you, Sean. This was timely. Going through some rough times, like so many. I love your stories. May God Bless you always.
Tommy - July 27, 2022 2:18 pm
Cynthia Russell - July 27, 2022 2:19 pm
THANK YOU ALWAY SEAN, for getting my day off to a GREAT BEAUTIFUL START!!!!!!! , Cynthia R.
Lana - July 27, 2022 2:26 pm
Such a simply amazing experience you share and I love it. Thank you!
sjhl7 - July 27, 2022 2:29 pm
You bring out the best in people and the best part of the day. Sunrise and the day is fresh and new. You can make what you want of it because it is untouched by human hands and unseen by human eyes. All just for you!
Ginger - July 27, 2022 2:34 pm
Wow! Thank you, Sean.
Carol J Pilmer - July 27, 2022 2:54 pm
Thanks for the reminder
Paige - July 27, 2022 3:38 pm
David Britnell - July 27, 2022 3:43 pm
artwimberley - July 27, 2022 3:46 pm
I did get up to see the sunrise this morning but it was pouring down rain. Fortunately I have many memories of beautiful sunrises. And sunsets. Some even at the Gulf of Mexico at Mexico Beach. Thank you for this reminder, Sean! I needed that!
Susie Flick - July 27, 2022 4:29 pm
Sunrises are the best and sunsets are too!
wfsuga - July 27, 2022 5:04 pm
Your overarching message is spot on and much more poignant and important than what I’m about to say.
But I can’t count the times in my life where I’ve witnessed a homely, less attractive young lady who blossoms with the years. At class reunions and other get-togethers as we grow older I have watched eyes pop as that “wallflower” of yore walks in and she’s dazzling and gorgeous, with a confident, outgoing personality to match. (And sometimes the head cheerleader has turned into a wildebeest.) I’ve witnessed the phenomenon many times and it always brings a smile to my face. Please assure Caroline that a ducking can turn into a swan.
Patricia Gibson - July 27, 2022 5:56 pm
Donna George-Moskovitz - July 27, 2022 6:19 pm
Made me cry.
Patricia Simmons Taylor - July 27, 2022 6:21 pm
Wonderful writing and truth! I pray for children today who feel like that…I was shy when I was young and never felt like I fit in, so I can relate. And now that I’m a widow I feel that way again, but understand it is not about me personally…I guess I quit caring what people think, and only care about what God knows. I fit in with Him so that is what matters. I guess there is truth that you get wiser as you get older. I have family and friends who love me and I am blessed. In reality everyone has fears and especially today with our world ever changing…We are told what used to be right is now wrong and vice versa. I wish I could wrap those children in my arms and tell them just how precious they are, but think your words accomplished that…. thanks for sharing your heart.
Judy - July 27, 2022 6:29 pm
How beautiful! I can see and feel the sun even on this cloudy rainy day.
SUE OSTERHOLD - July 27, 2022 6:32 pm
I needed that. Thx.
Linda - July 27, 2022 7:20 pm
Lovely. Inspiring. Thank you for sharing.
ANITA JEAN PARKER - July 27, 2022 7:22 pm
STRAIGHT UP AWESOME WRITING!!
Karen - July 27, 2022 7:46 pm
Sean, one of my favorite books is The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco. These kids didn’t fit in but boy did they achieved much in life. I hope Caroline realizes she will find her way and her worth.
Jean Scott - July 27, 2022 7:54 pm
Beautiful story Sean thanks so much for reminding me to live each day to the fullest! Going to start enjoying those sunrises! Or better yet the sunsets at the beach! Bless you!
MAM - July 27, 2022 8:39 pm
Beautiful, Sean. We are all overcomers of something. With God’s help and with wondrous and encouraging words from writers like you, Sean, we are all better off than we sometimes think!
Joyce - July 27, 2022 9:57 pm
Yeah, I’m not crying! My heart hurts for anyone who feels less than!!! Aren’t we all screwed up a little no matter how good it may look from the outside? Don’t give up!
Linda Moon - July 27, 2022 10:02 pm
I know and love two young boys like you, Sean. I still have the Newspaper article about their father’s suicide with his picture on the front page. The boys are now young men, they’re not screwed up…and neither are you. Redemption has sometimes been a long journey. I can’t send you a picture, but there’s a bright sun shining through my large window now. I’ll be thinking of you early tomorrow morning and my “boys”, too.
Anne Arthur - July 27, 2022 11:33 pm
Your soul is special, Sean.
I am reading this while watching the sunset.
Just for me, and those who have eyes to see.
Gail Sredonja - July 28, 2022 12:57 am
Susan W Fitch - July 28, 2022 1:25 am
Thank you …
Cherri - July 28, 2022 2:34 am
Loved this one, but then I seem to love about all of your stories….
Anne Carpenter - July 28, 2022 4:51 am
Good stuff, Sean! I love that you don’t pretend to have all the answers. It is enough that you share the dark times you’ve been through to show them there is hope. I love all of your stories, but this is one of the best. Keep sharing, you are making a difference!
Debbie g - July 28, 2022 7:46 am
Thank you Sean for reminding us with each new sunrise we get another chance
To make it right for ourselves and for others love to you and Jamie and to us all
Melanie - July 28, 2022 1:07 pm
Well it’s 6:04AM here on the Left Coast and there are already 58 comments thanking the man behind this story. I’ll be number 59: Thank you, Sean Dietrich. You’re a good man.
eddie owens - July 28, 2022 5:13 pm
K - July 28, 2022 10:01 pm
That was a great story. I try to keep remembering people. The thing is there are so many. So I do what I can and encourage others to do the same.
CRYSTAL THURSBY - July 31, 2022 10:20 pm
I grew up with being told, there is always someone worse off than you, now ain’t that the truth! We will always find someone worse off than us, it’s a fact. Another was, only God is perfect, people may look perfect on the outside? But they are not. We never know what people suffer from inside. Thank you Sean for sharing your stories, you are truly helping others and I admire that so much.
Allen - August 1, 2022 11:17 pm
Dang it Sean! You got me blubbering all over my Thai food!
Linnea J Johnson - August 3, 2022 5:35 pm
I got married when I was 16 because I thought I was so ugly I would never get another chance. Later, I made my living as a newspaper writer, sometimes comparing myself to great writers like you and coming up short. Somewhere along the way, I learned to just relax and enjoy the ride. That was when I discovered the magic of simply being alive with my eyes wide open in wonder. Thanks Sean!
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - August 8, 2022 11:25 pm
joydiamond1 - August 15, 2022 2:13 am
Harryette Miller Burnette - January 16, 2023 6:37 am
Beautifully written and such a beautiful scenario. How blessed you were to have that young lady tap on your window to invite you for an adventure. Wish I could have been so lucky “waaaayyyyy” back when. May you be more blessed as each new day surfaces………………Sincerely…………….