The New Arrival

There was a lot of excitement in the admissions department yesterday morning. It was a big day. All the angels were getting their wings ruffled over a big-time celebrity who was checking in.

“Did you hear?” said one angel to another. “Today’s the day! He’s coming!”

“Who’s coming?”

So the angel pulled out the logbook and pointed to the photograph of a small 10-year-old boy. The boy who spent his last days in the hospital. The boy whose family prayed until the bitter end. The boy who never, not even once, lost heart. Not even in the face of his leukemia.

The angels were pulling out all the stops for today’s big party. The beautification committee was hanging streamers and a large banner over the abalone gates that read “Welcome Home!”

The snack committee brought so much food they ran out of paper plates. The fireworks crew prepared for a huge display.

The first spectators started arriving early. Among them were people like Elvis, George Washington Carver, William Franklin Graham, Lewis and Clark, Vincent van Gough, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Leonardo da Vinci, and Babe Ruth. And there were many others who you’ve never heard of.

There is no rank of importance in this place. Everyone is the same. It’s hard to explain this concept to Earth people. One of the most popular saints up here, for instance, is an elderly man who used to be a janitor in a Soviet orphanage. You’ve never heard of him, but he’s a big deal.

So everyone gathered at the gates. Not just people, but animals, too. Zebras, lions, sheep, antelope, penguins, and squirrels.

And the all-star band was warming up. Vivaldi played fiddle, Chopin was on keyboard, Miles Davis played flugelhorn, Lawrence Welk was conducting.

You could hear the rustle of wings when the angels crowded the gates. They sounded like a bunch of excited chickens. Angels love new arrivals.

The reception was going to be spectacular. All the souls who ever lived were attending. The crowd grew so big that no human number could describe it. On Earth we measure things in millions and billions, but that’s not how it works here. Here, they have ka-freaking-zillion-jillions.

But then, this is the Promised Land. Everything is different here. There are rivers and streams that stretch to the edge of forever. There are countryscapes pretty enough to arrest your heart and make Earth look like a dump.

To give you an example: They have a river up here that’s as big as three solar systems. They have trees as tall as the Chrysler building. You can eat fried chicken all day long and your LDL numbers never go up.

There is no suffering, no arthritis, no lower back pain, no death, and no daytime television.

By the afternoon, the gates were so slammed with crowds that it was standing room only. Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of the arriving celebrity. There were children standing on the shoulders of adults. Angels were getting their autograph books ready. The band was playing a happy tune.

When the Boss arrived, the crowds parted to make way. People are always amazed at how he looks up close. They usually expect someone older, someone who looks like Charleton Heston, or Santa Claus. The joke is on them.

But that’s okay because the Boss loves a good joke. Which is another thing some people don’t know about him, he’s got a killer sense of humor. In fact, he invented humor. Also, he invented beer, but you didn’t hear that from me.

The Almighty stood before the throngs. He quieted everyone with a loud, “Sssshhh!” because the time was getting closer. A hush fell over the crowd.

A lonesome figure in the distance appeared. It was a small kid, walking toward the mother-of-pearl gates, through a shallow river of nimbus clouds. He was still wearing a hospital gown.

If you looked carefully, you could actually see the boy’s body getting stronger with each step. That’s pretty common up here. This is a place where the elderly become young again, where the afflicted become spry.

Saint Pete greeted the kid.

The boy looked around and asked, “Where am I?”

Pete smiled the same kind of smile your granddaddy gives. “Where do you think you are, son?”

“Is this place actually…?”

Pete nodded. “You’d better believe it.” Then Pete showed the kid the guest register. “Sign here, date here, initial here.”

The boy had to stand on a stepstool to sign his name. When he finished, he asked Pete what was supposed to happen next. Saint Pete simply winked and threw open the gates.

The boy walked through the herculean entrance. The child was a little cautious. New places can be scary. He took about two steps onto the gilded street and all Heaven broke loose. Banners. Fireworks displays. Brass bands. And cheering.

The cheers started at the front of the congregation, then trickled backward. It was a roar so loud that it made Yankee Stadium sound like a transistor radio. Soon, the noise became so strong that the dome of the afterworld began rattling under the strain.

The Boss himself cut through the crowd. He placed both arms around the boy. The cheering got even louder.

The boy asked, “Why’re all these people here?”

God said with a laugh, “Because, this is Heaven, son. And you’re a very big deal up here.”

This lowly world won’t be the same without you, Reese Loggins.


  1. Sarah - June 13, 2020 6:43 am

    What a beautiful gift for Reese’s family.

  2. Helen - June 13, 2020 7:27 am

    How beautiful! I hope he’s riding that new bike up there in heaven.

  3. aclownn - June 13, 2020 8:04 am

    Funny how one line of script can bring so many tears.

  4. Sandra - June 13, 2020 8:05 am

    How I loved this!

  5. Rogers - June 13, 2020 10:39 am

    Allergies acting up this morning

  6. Sylvia Diederich - June 13, 2020 10:49 am

    One can only hope that is the way it is. Beautiful and uplifting Mr. Dietrich.
    Sylvia Diederich from Florida…

  7. Ken Pounds - June 13, 2020 11:09 am

    Wow!! A glimpse of heaven from here on earth. Thanks Sean!!

  8. marisafranca - June 13, 2020 11:14 am

    Thank you, Sean. I’m so sorry I didn’t know who Sean was so I Googled him. What a beautiful tribute. I know it was exactly as you described!!

  9. Dean - June 13, 2020 11:14 am

    Thank You

  10. Robert M Brenner - June 13, 2020 11:38 am

    What can you say about such a loving and tender story! Thank you Sean and thanks be to God! ❤️🙏👼

  11. Ann - June 13, 2020 11:40 am


  12. Lydia - June 13, 2020 11:43 am

    One of your best and a true gift for his family❤️

  13. Cathi Russell - June 13, 2020 11:47 am

    The ugly cry before 6am…but it was worth it. Thanks Sean..

  14. Donna - June 13, 2020 12:08 pm

    BEST Ever!

  15. shelaine2015 - June 13, 2020 12:24 pm

    Your words will be an immense blessing and comfort to Reese’s family…and I believe God is smiling at your wonderful words. Thank you.

  16. Cynthia Woods - June 13, 2020 12:32 pm

    Joy through my tears! TY, Sean. Better than we can even imagine! Right!?? Have you read the condensed version of WITHIN THE GATES by Rebecca Springer? When my husband passed through them I needed help to believe. Her story helped me so much. Yours does too. ♥️

  17. Rhonda - June 13, 2020 12:37 pm

    This is the most beautiful thing I have ever read. Son, don’t think for one minute that you are not special. That God didn’t bless you with the gift to touch tender places in the heart that need so badly to be touched. Writers and musicians have no idea how much they mean to those who can only listen and read. You give release to emotions and express what we feel and cannot say. My thoughts this day will be with a family inconsolable.

  18. Sandy - June 13, 2020 12:39 pm

    Thank You, Sean for this beautiful gift. !!! God Bless You

  19. Dianne - June 13, 2020 12:43 pm

    Thank you, again, Sean for a wonderful and heartwarming story. Reminds me of an old hymn “what a day of rejoicing that will be…..when we all get to heaven, we’ll sing and shout the jubilee!”

  20. Tom Shaw - June 13, 2020 1:04 pm

    My eyes are leaking. Great tribute Sean, prayers for the family.

  21. Jan - June 13, 2020 1:12 pm

    Beautiful! Thank you, Sean. Praying for this family.

  22. Linda Clifton - June 13, 2020 1:24 pm

    Welcome home Reese.

  23. Allison Gilmore - June 13, 2020 1:32 pm

    I was up earlier than usual and started to read this post then. But after reading only the first line, I could tell where this was probably going, and I knew I was simply not ready to handle this yet. So I had some coffee, got dressed, had some more coffee, did a couple of kitchen tasks, and then read it. And now it will be quite awhile before I can stop crying about a kid I never met named Reese Loggins.

    • Michelle - March 4, 2022 11:47 am

      He was/is very special. The world lost a treasure that day, for sure.

  24. Linnea Miles - June 13, 2020 1:33 pm

    Speechless, uplifted, rejoicing! Just WOW! at both the writing and the future reality. Sean, I’ve seen your writing deepening and improving across tbe board. You’re really finding the words, turns of phrase, story-telling skills, and poignancy to pour out your soul. And with a Southern flair, thank God. Lewis Grizzard is the highest pinnacle (my beloved Sheltie is named C.S. Lewis Grizzard, goes by Lewis), and you’re making sure-footed progress up that mountain.

  25. Rhea Wynn - June 13, 2020 1:41 pm

    This is beautiful. God bless you!

  26. Michael Fletcher - June 13, 2020 1:42 pm

    Thank you, Sean for making my screen blurry on a Saturday morning.

  27. Linnea Miles - June 13, 2020 1:46 pm

    And welcome home, Reese Loggins! You fought a good fight! Your family will be there in just a heavenly few minutes.

  28. Allane - June 13, 2020 1:47 pm

    A story all parents with sick children should read – what a wonderful peaceful way of understanding Heaven- thank you

  29. Jim Thomssen - June 13, 2020 1:48 pm

    The Boss did invent humor. Great piece of writing here Sean. Well turned phrases abound. Thank you and prayers for peace for this family 👪

  30. Mark Pollish - June 13, 2020 1:59 pm

    Best description of heaven ever written by a mere mortal. Thank you Sean.

  31. Gaye P Baker - June 13, 2020 1:59 pm

    Hands down the best story I have ever read. Thank you that made my day.

  32. Norma Tanner - June 13, 2020 2:05 pm

    Sean, I hope what you described is exactly what my mother saw when she went home last Sunday. I certainly hope that all Heaven broke loose! Thank you for such a beautiful vision!

  33. leeqmilller2018 - June 13, 2020 2:31 pm

    wow this is beautiful, touching and brought me to tears of mixed emotions.
    thank you for sharing..

  34. Berryman Mary M - June 13, 2020 2:36 pm

    Thank you, Sean. Your words stirred me to tears. It eases my grief to ponder how my loved ones who have crossed over are so warmly welcomed and my greatest wish is to join them one day.

  35. Anne Arthur - June 13, 2020 2:40 pm

    THIS!!! Oh yes.

  36. Jon Dragonfly - June 13, 2020 2:44 pm

    And, also, welcome home, T-Ray.

  37. Jan - June 13, 2020 3:00 pm

    What a glorious account of what we have to look forward to and I know Reese’s family are comforted by your words.

  38. JoAnne Kimrey - June 13, 2020 3:22 pm

    Your description of heaven is beautiful & uplifting. You’ve made my day.

  39. Marge - June 13, 2020 3:31 pm

    Oh Sean, you fill my heart with such joy! Of course I am crying right now, but the joy that fills my heart when I connect with you each morning is indescribable! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your gifts. My prayers shout out for the family of Reese here on earth, and the anticipation of meeting Jesus, Reese and my beloved husband grows daily!

  40. Connie Ryland - June 13, 2020 3:32 pm


  41. Marge Hutsell - June 13, 2020 3:38 pm

    Oh Sean, your posting this morning brings me so much wonder! My prayers for the family of Reese shout out with gratitude; this wee boy has returned to our “forever” home with such a welcome! Your words paint a perfect picture for those of us who wait to be with Jesus. The joy your words bring are always indescribable. Thank you for sharing your special gift with us!

  42. Shawn - June 13, 2020 3:41 pm

    I. Love. This. Thank you Sean.

  43. Tammy S. - June 13, 2020 4:29 pm

    Beautiful!! ❤️❤️❤️

  44. Julie Messick - June 13, 2020 4:34 pm

    Simply wonderful

  45. Linda Moon - June 13, 2020 4:36 pm

    Four paragraphs into my reading, I knew this was about Reese Loggins. And then I wept. My Angels who prayed for him back in April will weep, too. One of them preceded him there in May, to that Beulah Land we sometimes sing about. My world has changed without my Angel-friend, Janice Jackson. And I bet Janice has already greeted Reese, and the cheers Reese got there were even better than the ones he got from those guys singing Happy Birthday to him right outside his window!

  46. Roy janysek - June 13, 2020 4:47 pm

    Wonderful story, prayers for Reese. What a blessing you have been given t share. I a so grateful that you do and may the Lord smile upon you today

  47. Mary - June 13, 2020 5:11 pm

    Such a wonderful picture, but the scripture goes from mansion to a dwelling place. I don’t care, just want to be there, someday. Rest in peace little one.

  48. Chris Spencer - June 13, 2020 5:13 pm

    Reese Mason Loggins, 10, of High Point, passed away Wednesday, June 10, 2020, at Duke University Medical Center.

    Born April 15, 2010, in Guilford County, he was a son of Russell Loggins and Michelle Mayhan Loggins of High Point. Reese was a rising 5th grader at Phoenix Academy and a Red Belt in Taekwondo at Tiger-Rock Marshall Arts Academy.

    In addition to his parents, he is survived by his brother, Michael Yeager; sisters, Savannah Yeager and Tricia Ellis; grandparents, Janice Blair Loggins, and Terry and Debbie Meredith.

    Funeral services will be conducted at 2:00 PM Saturday, June 20, 2020, at Community Bible Church. Burial will follow in Floral Garden Park.

    The family will receive friends from 12:30 PM until 1:45 PM prior to the service at the church.

    Memorial contributions may be made to Brenner’s Children Hospital or Duke Children’s Hospital.

    Reese’s family is requesting all who attend, wear Lime Green and a bowtie.

    Condolences may be expressed online at

    Wright Funerals-Cremations is in charge of arrangements.

    To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Reese Mason Loggins, please visit our floral store.

  49. Ann Marie Bouchet - June 13, 2020 5:23 pm

    What a wonderful, joyful column. Prayers for his grieving family, but this should bring them great comfort and joy. You are amazing.

  50. Becky Souders - June 13, 2020 5:25 pm

    Beautiful. Comforting.

  51. Christina - June 13, 2020 6:11 pm

    Unspeakable pain meets unimaginable celebration. Thanks Sean!

  52. Annie D Sommers - June 13, 2020 6:22 pm

    Sean, you are the best person. You know how to make someone feel so special and I know the parents of this child feel better knowing what Reese is doing and how he is being taken care of and celebrated.

  53. Richard C. - June 13, 2020 6:53 pm

    Thank you for reminding me what Heaven might be like. I am sure this young man’s family was comforted by your words. May God continue to use you to bless others.

  54. DeLoris Donegan - June 13, 2020 6:59 pm

    Wonderful. Had to read this three times even though it made me cry. Thanks

  55. Jannie Bryant - June 13, 2020 7:44 pm

    Your writing stirs and comforts the soul. After I read your daily column my day always becomes a little better. Thank you.

  56. Susan Kennedy - June 13, 2020 7:57 pm

    My dad left for Heaven going on 3 weeks ago and your description of that amazing place is beautiful. Can’t help but wonder now if my dad has met Reese! I’m thinking he has….💙

  57. Kathy Daum - June 13, 2020 8:02 pm

    Hope Jim Henson and Shel Silverstein showed up for the welcome. And my mom and dad. They love kids.

  58. Shirley Jones - June 13, 2020 8:07 pm

    Thank you. My three sons are part of the welcoming group. Your picture of heaven lessons the hurt in my heart. Prayers for Reeses family. And for you.

  59. Susan - June 13, 2020 8:41 pm

    This will always be my all time favorite story. Thank you Sean.

  60. Beki - June 13, 2020 9:51 pm

    Thank you Sean. I’m bawling thinking of how my shy Mama was welcomed home 6 years ago ~~and how happy that must have made her. Please keep writing. And may God bless Reese’s family as they begin a new earthly journey without him. I pray this writing will give them peace.

  61. Heather Miller - June 13, 2020 11:51 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  62. Sharlene - June 14, 2020 1:01 am

    I could actually visualize this homecoming. What a glorious site!

  63. Kimberly Loggins - June 14, 2020 1:54 am

    Thank you Sean. There are no words that will heal a broken heart. There are no words to take away the pain. But-your kind words will bring comfort to our family. Reese was, INDEED, a special young man. He will be missed. Thank you to all your readers for their thoughts and prayers.

  64. Livy Abele - June 14, 2020 2:18 am

    The most beautiful story ever… thank you… God Bless You Reese…🥰❤️❤️

  65. Janie Parsons - June 14, 2020 3:21 am

    Beautiful and comforting. Thank you.

  66. Miss Jillian Crocker - June 14, 2020 4:14 am

    Poor chickens!!! What did they ever do that was so awful?

  67. jstephenw - June 14, 2020 4:59 am

    Awesome Sean. Like a good wine, you are getting better with age. Actually, as an English major, lawyer and writer, I will tell all your readers that you have consistently worked on your craft and become better year-after-year. Congrats Sean. That is what real artists do-they never stop learning and get better and better. Cannot wait to read your future work as you keep getting better. Hey to Jamie. Got an e-mail from Jim Martin recently and still marvel at what a small world it is. Godspeed in this crazy pandemic, protesting world. Be safe my friend.

  68. Emily - June 14, 2020 11:55 am

    This one had me in tears from the beginning! Thank you for the beautiful picture Sean!

  69. Pat Bice - June 14, 2020 12:16 pm

    Beautiful!!!very touching as a Mother who had to release a beautiful 14 year old to Heaven 35 years ago and still missing him with every breath I take!! For those parents there is a wonderful organization available called The Compassionate Friends an international organization for bereaved parents. Keep writing Sean!

  70. Bobbie - June 14, 2020 2:30 pm

    Reading this a day late and sooo glad I didn’t miss it. I keep saying with so many posts, “This is your best.” The best was yet to come. This by far rises above any written thus far. I so agree with a couple of readers who say your writing is improving almost daily. Your heart is your guide Sean…your compassion is in every word. I imagine your tears also have stained the screen or page. I teared up after the first line. What a tribute to this little boy named Reese. We, who never knew him, know him now and mourn his loss as all the angels and residents of Heaven rejoice!! How comforting to his family. This will for sure be in his memory book.

  71. Joy Taylor-Lane - June 15, 2020 4:32 am

    Bless your heart Sean. And bless all of our hearts who are still here, while our loved ones have been called home.

  72. Joy Taylor-Lane - June 15, 2020 4:32 am

    Is this my friend Heather?

  73. Linda Moon - June 15, 2020 5:27 pm

    To Kimberly Loggins: You are very kind to “thank” us. Comfort to you, always.

  74. Jana Frost - June 15, 2020 8:56 pm

    This is one of the best you have ever written! Every emotion in this one. Thank you!

  75. Nicemomma - June 16, 2020 4:49 am

    You have outdone even yourself. This is the sweetest, most memorable thing I’ve ever read. Thank you

  76. Barbara Mc - June 17, 2020 8:52 pm

    Beautiful. Tears for Reece’s family but joy for him.

  77. Michelle Loggins - June 18, 2020 11:52 am

    Thank you Sean for this beautiful picture of my little boy walking into heaven. I’m trying to see that more than remembering watching his suffering and feeling my heart break through it. It’s a lovely picture, although I am still so sad. I don’t know how you got a hold of our story, but I’m glad you did. Reese very much believed in heaven. I imagine it went it a lot as you described. I have an idea he is riding his bike finally. He never got to here. I will be sharing this story with people who come to his service. Thank you again.

  78. Mary Craig - July 21, 2020 8:47 pm

    I’m bawling my eyes out, I have goosebumps all over my body, and I’m thinking about my brother who managed to breathe 7 hours on this earth before he went to his party. Congratulations, Reese. You’ve made it before the rest of us, and I sure hope I get to meet you some day.

  79. Tia Grady - July 21, 2020 9:59 pm

    Such a beautiful story. And Reese’s father’s comment kept my tears going. Sean, thank you for listening to your heart and the whispers you listen to from God.❤️

  80. Sharon J - July 22, 2020 3:15 am

    This makes me homesick for heaven! Thank you Sean for the beautiful picture you have painted with your words.
    Prayers of comfort for the family of this sweet young man.

  81. Joe Patterson - July 22, 2020 7:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing

  82. Helen De Prima - July 23, 2020 4:18 pm

    A beautiful gift.


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