The Little Miracles of You

I just want to say that Michelle is very incredible. Publicly. I don’t know her, I’ve never met her. But she’s had quite a hard year and she deserves a little noticing.

After her parents’ divorce, Michelle’s dad decided to move out of state, she hasn’t heard from him in nine months. He won’t take her calls. Her brother left for college. And her mother got a new full-time job with a long daily commute. Michelle is lonely and having some major confidence issues this year.

Oh, and today is her 14th birthday.

So if you are reading this, Michelle, I want you to stop thinking about crummy stuff for a few minutes. And think about how indubitably awesome you are. I mean it.

Quit reading. Take a few seconds. And think about the Miracle that is You.

Now I realize that we are basically strangers. All I am is text on the screen. And you probably don’t think you’re miraculous. But here’s the thing: you are.

For one thing, you’re reading these pixels, and they are actually making sense to your ridiculously advanced mammal brain.

You’ve probably never considered what’s involved in the simple act of reading. Truthfully, I never have, either. Not until I wrote this column.

Before I sat down to type the following paragraphs I did some research on the anatomy of the human eyeball. And all I can say is, whoa, it really opened up my aqueous humors.

Here’s what I found out:

While you’re reading these words, the lens of your eyeball is focusing and refocusing like a high-tech camera. It’s filtering lightwaves through your vitreous humor—a clear jelly substance in the back of your eyeball.

THEN, your retina transforms this image into tiny electrical impulses which are carried by the optic nerve to the brain.

But wait. There’s more.

All these alphabetic symbols and pixels that I’m writing have no real meaning. Not until they get decoded by your occipital lobe and a bunch of other fancy lobes and get identified as actual letters. Then words. Sentences. Paragraphs. And finally abstract thoughts which your brain recognizes as the most yawn-inducing writing you have ever read.

And all THIS has happened instantaneously.

It’s happening right now. You’re translating my words at lightning speeds. Which means that, in a way, my words are inside your head. Which means I’m inside your head. And let me tell you, it’s pretty cozy up here. Although I would replace those outdated drapes.

Every day, every hour, every millisecond, your body is doing miracles like this, working like a supercomputer. From your brainstem to your foot muscles. Your body is always making magic.

Let’s say you fall and skin your knee. Immediately, a squadron of specialized blood cells rush to the surface like miniature miracle-network navy SEALS. The platelets swarm the cut, along with calcium, vitamin K, and something called fibrinogen.

This is so unbearably amazing I can’t stand it.

Hey! Wake up over there!

Once the air hits the fibrinogen, it turns into fibrin, which becomes a microscopic hardened mesh across your wound, like chicken wire. It forms a tough scab. And that scab is just the beginning of the healing process.

Oh, Michelle. Your body has the supernormal ability to heal itself.

White blood cells called macrophages show up first. These cells are like bodyguards. Like enormous, giant, overly muscled SEC football players fighting off evil bacteria like a bunch of hungry offensive linemen at the Golden Corral family buffet.

After THAT, your Amazing Body gets down to business repairing your skin with new collagen, pumping out new epidermis material as though it were Reddi-Wip.

Your body is always making new skin. Every day. Lots and lots of it. How much skin do you produce? You produce 30,000 to 40,000 new skin cells every minute.

You produce so much skin that the average human being sheds its entire outer layer of skin every three to four weeks. Over the course of your lifetime, you will shed 1,000 human bodies’ worth of skin.

Are you following me here, Michelle? I hope so. Because once that scab falls off, you are not just whole again. You are brand new. All healed.

The scar may itch, or even pucker. But it’s pristine skin. And over the next six weeks, that flesh will get tougher. And tougher.

But here is the interesting part. Your scar won’t get so tough that it becomes numb. In fact, the scar will never be 100 percent normal again. Because that is not the way life works.

Old wounds will always be sensitive. You will always feel it. And even though it doesn’t seem like it right now, this heightened sensitivity is a profound gift.

Don’t listen to people who tell you to grow thicker skin. You don’t need thick skin. All you need is to keep growing new skin. And you are doing just that. Even as we speak. Every moment. You’re healing more and more.

One day you won’t remember this letter. You’ll forget that some hack writer in Florida was in his office tapping out random biology facts because he was thinking about you.

By then you’ll be an adult with a beautiful family of your own. You’ll be a great parent. Tenderhearted, kindhearted, and you will be wise.

If you ask me, the Earth is lucky to have you, Michelle. For there is nothing more incredible than the creation of You. I’m sorry your father couldn’t see that. But I see it. With my own two retinas.

Happy birthday, sweetheart.

44 comments

  1. Karen Erwin-Brown - October 4, 2020 6:38 am

    a very beautiful hoot of a response. You make me laugh and think. You get me out of my reptilian brain that just wants to climb into the fridge to see what’s going on.

    Reply
  2. Susan Parker - October 4, 2020 7:08 am

    Thank you for caring so much for others, Sean! And have a truly happy birthday, Michelle! Discover those miracles about you that go beyond even these….they are there!

    Reply
  3. Joann Thompson - October 4, 2020 10:26 am

    What a lovely, thoughtful letter. You’re wrong about one thing, though. I don’t think Michelle will ever forget It, because people don’t forget when other people take the time to care.

    Reply
  4. Marilyn - October 4, 2020 11:35 am

    Michele, Happy Birthday ♪♫ to you! Today is also my birthday and my wish is for you to find peace and comfort.

    Reply
  5. Phil - October 4, 2020 11:50 am

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Michelle!

    Reply
  6. Virginia Russell - October 4, 2020 11:54 am

    Nice one. I shared so hopefully some of my former students (general psych) will nod.

    Reply
  7. Jo Ann - October 4, 2020 11:55 am

    Happy Birthday, Michelle!! Hope you have a wonderful day & can feel the good wishes of all of us that have read Sean’s writing today.

    Reply
  8. Jane Elder - October 4, 2020 12:17 pm

    Happy Birthday Michelle.

    Reply
  9. Dianne - October 4, 2020 12:17 pm

    Happy Birthday, Michelle!!! This is your special day for a very special young lady!! You truly are a miracle, as we all are, and you are also one of a kind………a very special one!! Thank you, Sean, for your compassion and insight.

    Reply
  10. Linda D. - October 4, 2020 12:18 pm

    Isn’t it wonderful that people of all ages read and reach out to Sean for comfort? He’s truly a support system unlike any other. He inspires us all.

    Reply
  11. Amanda - October 4, 2020 12:50 pm

    Happy Birthday, Michelle! And many more ////

    Reply
  12. L Dianne Keffer - October 4, 2020 12:55 pm

    First, Happy of the happiest birthday to you Michelle!

    Sean thank you for sharing Michelle’s story so when I wake up I get to tell someone special Happy Birthday. Makes me smile.

    Reply
  13. Diann - October 4, 2020 1:00 pm

    Happy awesome birthday Michelle! As we step into this Sunday for worship let us remember the goodness and greatness of our God that made you and calls you His own!

    Reply
  14. Lauren D Ulrich - October 4, 2020 1:09 pm

    You made me recall a TV show I saw when I was just little (so that means back in the 50s) It was called Hemo, the Magnificent and explained how our blood/white cells work by showing them as little soldiers, bodyguards, football players and Navy SEALS. busy running through our veins and arteries to make our bodies healthy. Thank you for the memory–but, more importantly, thank you for the reminder of how marvelously we are made. Happy birthday, Michelle~

    Reply
  15. Jan - October 4, 2020 1:11 pm

    Happy Birthday, Michelle! And thank you Sean for the reminders!

    Reply
  16. Granny B - October 4, 2020 1:20 pm

    You ae never alone sweet Michelle. And you are always loved by the special people in your life. God – who is Love – lives within you and is going to use you in mighty ways in the years to come! Hold on to HIM and His awesome purpose for you!!

    Reply
  17. Joyce W Moorman - October 4, 2020 1:23 pm

    What a lovely way to say within time, a person will be able to live with “hurts and disappointments”. Look for the positive and the blessings even if they are very small in your current situation. Thanks for the reminder, Sean.

    Reply
  18. Beryl - October 4, 2020 1:29 pm

    Today is my sister Lisa’s birthday. She was born when I was ten and she became my baby. Our mother suffered from severe postpartum depression. Being an alcoholic, having her mother die while she was pregnant, and having four young children already, created the perfect set of biological and chemical catalysts for her to become barely functional. Sean is right. You are an incredible young woman. Your father’s disappearance from your life makes no sense to you right now. It hurts and the why’s are always being asked. Know this, you are and will be amazing with or without your father. You are and will be amazed at what you will learn about yourself. You are on your way to becoming a woman who can change the world with the knowledge you will gain from this painful apartness. Consider this, your father is in some kind of pain himself or he would not dream of leaving his daughter. Send him love and you will receive love, maybe not from him directly. Perhaps someday you will be reunited and the words you share with him will heal these wounds that are just now scabbing over. You are an incredible human being and NO ONE CAN TAKE THIS AWAY FROM YOU. Happy Birthday Michelle from all of us on planet Earth.

    Reply
  19. peggybilbro - October 4, 2020 1:42 pm

    Happy birthday Michelle! Wear your miracleness out into the world! I swear Sean, you get better every day. This is beautiful.

    Reply
  20. Gayle Wilson - October 4, 2020 2:26 pm

    Sean, according to the Bible we are wonderfully made – I think you are pretty wonderful for typing all of those letters, words, sentences and paragraphs to Michelle. And Michelle, you are wonderfully made too. Sorry your dad doesn’t recognize it, mine didn’t either, but hang in there because there is a whole world of others who think you are wonderful. Happy Birthday Michelle.

    Reply
  21. Susie Murphy - October 4, 2020 2:48 pm

    Well said. With love, kindness, and humor.

    Reply
  22. Ann - October 4, 2020 3:19 pm

    How do you do it??…..you, I am sure,have given Michelle quite a gift!

    Reply
  23. Patricia Gibson - October 4, 2020 3:37 pm

    Happy Birthday, Michelle❤️

    Reply
  24. sharon suleski - October 4, 2020 4:17 pm

    How true my old scar from knee surgery 2 years ago is not 100% normal It is still sensitive after all this time and I have come to the conclusion it will always be that way I can accept that as the miracle is since the surgery my quality of life is so much better amen

    Reply
  25. Crystal Mason - October 4, 2020 4:38 pm

    I’m not crying, you’re crying! *sniff* You are amazing Michelle and will do amazing things! Happy Birthday from Port Moody, BC Canada sweet one.

    Reply
  26. Christina - October 4, 2020 5:28 pm

    Yes you are Michelle, yes you are! A miracle everyday!

    Reply
  27. Carolyn Nicholson - October 4, 2020 5:41 pm

    I know you’re feeling down with what the adults in your life are doing, but never forget that a grandmother in Georgia heard your story Sean wrote. I know what an awesome young lady you are and all the potential you have inside you precisely because God created one-of-a-kind you. Happy birthday, Michelle! Have fun today!

    Reply
  28. Linda Moon - October 4, 2020 5:49 pm

    Michelle IS awesome, Sean. Opening my humours to her to her through your words is awesome, too. Happy Birthdays, Michelle…this one and others to come! And one more thing, Sean, my eyes never tire of reading your posts of humorous or profound stories of LIFE.

    Reply
  29. MAM - October 4, 2020 5:50 pm

    Sean, your empathy for people, even those you don’t know, is a gift you so amazingly share with those who need it. Happy Birthday, Michelle, wherever you are!

    Reply
  30. Robert M Brenner - October 4, 2020 6:49 pm

    Sean, I think this letter will stay with this young girl forever. What a sweet thing for you to write ❤️…

    Reply
  31. Alison - October 4, 2020 6:52 pm

    Happy Birthday, Michelle! May 14 be a spectacular year!

    Reply
  32. Terri - October 4, 2020 7:43 pm

    Happy birthday Michelle!!

    Reply
  33. Susie - October 4, 2020 8:06 pm

    Happy 14th Birthday Michelle🎈🎈Wishing you many blessings and love from our Heavenly Father who will always be there for you.

    Reply
  34. Melanie - October 4, 2020 8:25 pm

    (Sean you may not want to post this but I always feel so bad for kids and teens that are having a tough time)
    Michelle you can get through it. Fourteen can be really great and it can be really bad and basically really all over the place. It can be really hard at times. I lived in a home with an abusive alcoholic father and a mentally ill mother and no other family or friends. Please find someone to talk to that you feel OK with. If you don’t know anyone you can call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to Lifeline Chat. And know that I am sending you wishes for your very special day – and it is special! Happy Birthday 😊

    Reply
  35. Gene - October 4, 2020 9:06 pm

    Happy Birthday, Michelle!
    My Dad walked out of my sister & my life when we were 7&9. I remember what it felt like. Family,& friends helped a lot. Hope you have some to turn to.
    you are special,& it was not your fault. Sometimes adults do stupid things.

    Reply
  36. Paula Beard - October 4, 2020 9:08 pm

    Happy birthday, Michelle. Rest assured that none of the painful circumstances that surround you right now are your fault. Your dad is withdrawn into his own pain for now and can’t be there for you. It’s not fair, but it is what it is. Some day he might recover and reunite with you, but please know that, whether he does or not, you will be all right. I wish you all the best, now and for all your life. ❤️

    Reply
  37. pldrosewattnet - October 4, 2020 9:28 pm

    A great big Birthday wish from Cedar Key Florida to Michelle where ever you live!

    Reply
  38. Pat - October 4, 2020 11:59 pm

    Happy birthday, Michelle!

    Reply
  39. Mary Cissell - October 5, 2020 2:29 am

    Happy Birthday Marilyn! You and Michelle and I all have birthdays today!

    Reply
  40. Peggy - October 5, 2020 5:01 am

    Thank you Sir! You are marvelous to share those thoughts and push us forward. God bless!

    Reply
  41. Susan Kennedy - October 5, 2020 6:38 pm

    Happy Birthday Michelle!

    Reply
  42. K. D. Kempf Jones - October 5, 2020 10:08 pm

    What a beautiful birthday column – a gift that only you, Sean, could give and just gave to Michelle! It was a thrill to my aqueous humors and retinas as well – so I can only happily imagine how Michelle felt when she read it. Bravo, Sean! And Happy Birthday, Michelle! – DiAn

    Reply
  43. Donald Pipkins - October 5, 2020 11:05 pm

    Hey Sean
    Just going to drop you a few lines.
    Who would have thought on a cold night in December when a legend was coaching his last game and a baby was born. That the same baby that was named for that same coach! That same child would grow up and become an actor and his first commercial would be viewed by thousands or more like millions of fans of the same team that the coaching legend played for and coached. As Wife and I set watching the Tide roar past the Aggies yesterday there was the commercial of that young child born on that cold night in December. And brother I am so proud that you were able to star in a commercial . Oh by the way I read your short stories and you are a inspiration and blessing. My favorite writer keep up the good work and Roll Tide Roll

    Sincerely
    Donald Pipkins

    Reply
  44. Jon Dragonfly - October 6, 2020 12:07 am

    A belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MICHELLE!

    Reply

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