The Worst Days

I rear ended a Toyota years ago. I was driving the highway, John Conlee was on the radio singing “Rose Colored Glasses.”

It was the worst day ever. I can close my eyes and recall the whole scene. It had been a bad week. A dark year. And it got dimmer.

A car ahead of me slammed its brakes. The tailpipe came toward me so fast I didn’t have time to say: “Holy Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!”

The crash was loud. I blacked out.

When I awoke, I was lying in the median. Paramedics were around me. I couldn’t remember my name. I was out of it.

“You’re gonna be okay,” the EMT said. “You’re just in shock. And look on the bright side, kid, at least you didn’t poop your pants.”

Thank God for small blessings.

They rushed me to the ER. No broken bones. Only bruises. A doctor shined a light in my eyes and inspected my neurological reactions.

He was a white-haired man who said, “Say your ABCs backward for me, son.”

I closed my eyes and said, “‘Your ABCs backward, son.’”

A good laugh was had by all—except the doctor, who charged an extra fourteen hundred bucks for laughter.

That night, I sat on the sofa with bruised ribs. The medication my wife had given me made me loopy, I was starting to see things. Julia Child, for instance, was on television, descaling a fish and I seriously believed she was trying to assault me with Japanese cutlery.

My truck was totaled. My face was beaten up. My collarbone and ribs hurt.

It truly was the worst day ever. And I’d just come off the heels of what had been the worst month ever. Weeks earlier, my longtime dream of becoming a writer had been squashed—I’d been rejected from an academic writing program.

AND: I had been turned down from a job I’d wanted.

AND: I’d lost my job on a landscaping crew.

AND: our bank account had $91.23 in it.

Life couldn’t have been any sadder, I thought. And here I was watching Julia Child prepare salmon with cucumber sauce while having mild pharmaceutical-grade hallucinations.

The next day was worse. My wife came home with a frown on her face. She held certified mail in her hands.

Her first words were: “The victim’s insurance company is suing you.”

I started crying so hard it made my head hurt. I’ve never been sued before.

That afternoon I laid in a lawn chair lounger in our backyard with my dog. I stared at the sky and felt sorry for myself. I decided to write a story. I don’t know why. Call it the side-effects of potent medication, or just plain boredom. I wrote for hours on a yellow legal pad.

When my wife got home from work, she laid beside my dog and me.

They are my family. And they held me tight. They’ve always done that. When I finished weeping, my wife picked up the legal pad and read my story.

Finally she said, “Hey, this is good.”

I disagreed.

“You know what you oughta do?” she went on. “You should post this online.”

And do you know what? That was how an entirely new phase of my life began. My wife’s few words. That car accident. That legal pad. Julia Child. My worst day ever, as it happens, wasn’t all that bad.

I sincerely hope yours isn’t either.

49 comments

  1. Christopher Spencer - May 2, 2021 6:42 am

    Through the prayers of our loved ones God is taking care of us even when are not aware of it. And that terrible day He was taking care of you and has greatly blessed you since. Be thankful to Him and for those family, friends and strangers who pray for you daily. Because you and I have this in common; without those prayers we would not even be here.
    Love to you and your family,
    Chris

    Romans 8:28
    King James Version
    28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

    Reply
    • Susan Parker - May 2, 2021 9:35 am

      I’m with Chris….even the horrible events of that awful day in that terrible year worked together to create a space for something good to happen. Thanks for listening to Jamie. She was right about you, and about your writing. I don’t comment on here too often, but I share your column nearly every day on my Facebook page. Sometimes with comments like, “Y’all can’t miss this one!”
      So glad you are here, Sean!

      Reply
  2. Nan - May 2, 2021 8:00 am

    Ya see – there’s an upside to everything!

    Reply
  3. Lander - May 2, 2021 9:05 am

    Thank goodness for wives who read things carefully, not only say something encouraging, but challenge us to do something new, and a whole new thing opens up.

    Reply
  4. Billie Padgett - May 2, 2021 10:54 am

    This is another great one!
    Encouraging!
    Timely!
    Some good words!
    Thanks!

    Reply
  5. johnsteinbach - May 2, 2021 11:09 am

    I’ve believed for a long time that we have needed every incident, event, and person in our past to become the persons we are today. Thanks for confirming that, Sean. Another good story!

    Reply
  6. Bar - May 2, 2021 11:30 am

    Sean, your writing changes me. Feelings that were dried up or smothered or that had just run away because of a poorly-lived life are slowly coming back as I read your words. They make me want to try again, to do better, to be the real person that God created me to be. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Linda L - May 2, 2021 5:46 pm

      Amen

      Reply
    • Shirley - May 4, 2021 3:19 pm

      Amen!

      Reply
  7. Susan Jordan - May 2, 2021 11:43 am

    Sean, you make my days better every day! Every. Day. I never miss reading your column. ❤️

    Reply
  8. Jo Ann - May 2, 2021 11:45 am

    All the comments before me are right on, Sean. Your worst day eventually became the best part of our days. Thank you every day for the gifts you bring us.

    Reply
  9. Lisa Perkins - May 2, 2021 12:07 pm

    Sean, well I’m sorry for everything you’ve gone through in your life, I’m so grateful that you’ve entered mine through your writings. You truly have a gift for writing stories about all kinds of things that touch your readers lives. Christopher Spencer’s comment above is spot on.
    Have a wonderfully blessed day! 🙏🌟🤗

    Reply
  10. joan moore - May 2, 2021 12:08 pm

    Funny how it took all that adversity to bring you into our everyday lives, thank you!

    Reply
  11. Michael - May 2, 2021 12:09 pm

    Thanks, Sean.

    Reply
  12. Joyce Bacon - May 2, 2021 12:11 pm

    And once again, God takes what was meant to be bad and turns it into something good.

    Reply
  13. Jenny Young - May 2, 2021 12:11 pm

    Oh I love this.

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  14. Sharon Brock - May 2, 2021 12:28 pm

    Praise GOD from whom all blessings flow that one, you survived the wreck and two, that you kept writing. Young man, you have no idea what your column means to people. Dude, you are loved by total strangers. How cool is that. I was once laid off the day before payday with $2 left in my checking account. I was a single mother and was terrified. That day turned out to be just a blip in my life. My two favorite favorite phrases are “this too shall pass” by GOD and “if your back is against the wall nobody can stick a knife in it” by my Granny.

    Reply
  15. Ernie - May 2, 2021 12:35 pm

    Seems there are many of us who, though very sorry for that seriously bad day, are grateful for how it worked out. I agree with Christopher. Romans 8:28 is right (even in the other translations!).

    Reply
  16. Roy - May 2, 2021 12:38 pm

    Thanks Sean.. that was good.

    Reply
  17. Gay - May 2, 2021 12:58 pm

    There can be good things that come from bad things , we only have to open our heart and eyes. My days are definitely made brighter after reading your blog. Thank you Sean.

    Reply
  18. Carole Lea - May 2, 2021 1:04 pm

    Thank you, Jamie, for urging Sean to post his writings because they are blessings to us all.

    Reply
  19. Patricia Schmaltz - May 2, 2021 1:05 pm

    Sean, I just love you. You always seem to gift me whatever I need each day.. a laugh.. some tears.. and always something to keep in my heart and ponder. Thank you so much.

    Reply
  20. Bobby - May 2, 2021 1:13 pm

    We thank God that day he healed you from the accident and brought you into our lives. You are an incredible story teller Sean and everyday touch all of us with your words. Have a blessed Sunday my friend. 🙏

    Reply
  21. Debbie g - May 2, 2021 1:13 pm

    God was preparing you for all of us who need you. Love to you and family. Always prayers for y’all

    Reply
  22. Jan - May 2, 2021 1:19 pm

    Sorry about your accident but I sure am glad you are here every morning when I get up!

    Reply
  23. Terry Holloway - May 2, 2021 1:33 pm

    And all your devotees said Amen

    Reply
  24. Gayle - May 2, 2021 1:51 pm

    Thank you for the sincere way you write about life

    Reply
  25. Chasity Davis Ritter - May 2, 2021 3:06 pm

    That’s the thing about those bad days they make is appreciate the good ones. And that Jamie? She’s a pretty smart cookie!!! You better hold on tight to her!! (Yeah I know…we know you definitely will!!)

    Reply
  26. Bex - May 2, 2021 3:13 pm

    God truly does work in Mysterious ways! Amen! 🙏🏻

    Reply
  27. Bonnie - May 2, 2021 3:41 pm

    Bravo!!👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

    Reply
  28. Christina - May 2, 2021 3:45 pm

    And we are eternally gratefully for the love that held you tight and the words that you offer online ever since.

    Reply
  29. Maureen Brown - May 2, 2021 4:41 pm

    Love your writing, Sean, and would really appreciate the article that Jamie talked you into posting. NEED it, Dude!

    Reply
  30. Ann Davis - May 2, 2021 5:39 pm

    I rarely take the time to comment on your articles but that doesn’t mean that I don’t TOTALLY enjoy them – your humor, the sadness, the hysterical – all of it. I often share your articles as well. Please never stop. They really make my day!!!

    Reply
  31. Linda Moon - May 2, 2021 5:41 pm

    You did a good job saying Z to A. You brought the best medicine (laughter), to me just now. And you reminded me that while recovering from major surgery, I saw my cat walk across the floor of my hospital room. I was loopy. So…..this is how the “Sean of the South” ride started, from Jamie’s advice! I’m happy to be riding along with you two. Happy Accidents happen….you lived to tell about yours. Mine haven’t turned out too bad, either…so, thank you for your good wishes!

    Reply
  32. JAMES WOODS - May 2, 2021 6:17 pm

    I’ve been a Baptist pastor for 50 years. This morning I preached on a believer’s struggles. I can sure identify with yours! I’ve one or two of my own. Thanks for sharing yours. You made me smile. BTW…..do you know what they call those who are not selected for writer’s school? They call them “WRITERS.”

    Reply
  33. johnallenberry - May 2, 2021 6:47 pm

    Dear Sean,

    As a feller who’s been through an academic creative writing program, studied it some in the masters and got a PhD in it, I can tell you that there is nothing a program can give you other than a credential.. You’re a writer or you’re not a writer. I tell my creative writing students from the jump: “I can’t teach you how to write. I can’t make you a writer. I can give you tools and strategies and habits of mind, but I can’t teach you to write.” The best you can get from a program is it requires you to write on a fairly regular basis and it gets you used to taking criticism.

    There is nothing that a program could teach you that would make you any better than you already are, in fact, there’s some evidence, it might ruin what you already do. You’re voice is authentic, it’s vivid, and it’s yours. That’s why I use your work as an example;first for my comp students, and now for my creative writing students.

    I know that’s not the point of this entry… but I just finished a thirty day poetry marathon with a group that included my two graduate poetry profs. They were kind enough to tell me they liked some of my poems. I’m currently writing this from the moon, and not sure how I’m gonna get down. It never hurts to hear “Hey, man, you’re doin’ it right.”

    All the best,

    PhDude

    Reply
  34. Ann - May 2, 2021 7:19 pm

    Thank you, Jamie, you are responsible for our bright spot……you shared your gift!

    Reply
  35. Helen De Prima - May 2, 2021 8:10 pm

    New growth from ashes.

    Reply
  36. Joyce Daniels - May 2, 2021 10:58 pm

    I have only recently subscribed to your amazing articles. One of the “devotees” above shared your writing with me from time to time, and I either laughed or cried. Usually both! I love that our God works in such miraculous ways even when it hurts.
    You were the topic of conversation at lunch with the above mentioned old friend and others this week. The consensus was unanimous! You rock!!
    Joyce Daniels, a new devotee.

    Reply
  37. Viann Augustine - May 2, 2021 11:37 pm

    From the terrible beginning, a truly blessed ending!!

    Reply
  38. Judy Tayloe - May 3, 2021 12:05 am

    So, Sean. Your very bad day, week, year, turned into a very bright day, week, year for all your readers! Thank you so much!

    Reply
  39. Pingback: RECAFFEINATED MONDAYS: The One Where I’m Vulnerable – The Write Side of My Brain

  40. Cyn - May 3, 2021 1:56 pm

    Great inspiration for those who think they have nothing. Thank you!

    Reply
  41. Susan - May 3, 2021 6:28 pm

    You inspire me every day, please don’t ever stop writing!

    Reply
  42. Sonya Tuttke - May 3, 2021 11:53 pm

    It is called Providence. It comes from our Heavenly Father.

    Reply
  43. elizabethroosje - May 4, 2021 4:13 am

    Read this to my Husband, we both really liked it. You keep knocking balls out of the park, and I am here, wildly cheering you on!

    Reply
  44. Craig Johnson - May 4, 2021 3:04 pm

    Things happen for a reason.
    We were on our way to 30A for vacation. One of our group spilled coffee slowing us down by 30 minutes. Bad weather ripped through Birmingham 30 minutes before we arrived. A tree fell due to weather in Kingston, AL, again by 30 minutes.

    Timing is everything.

    Reply
  45. DiAn - May 4, 2021 4:45 pm

    Sean – Thank the Lord for these kinda Bad Days especially if it results in columns like yours!
    Thank you for heeding the messages and posting regularly.
    Your column cheers me on my worst days. Please keep them up! Thank you!!

    Reply
  46. Maureen - May 8, 2021 12:41 am

    Dear Sean: my mom frequently sends me your posts, and I’ve always received something that many of the responders have already noted here. There is always something that stirs or calls for gratitude, compassion, inspiration, further pondering, etc. Just when I finished reading this today, Rom 8:28 came so clearly to me. I’d wanted to immediately communicate this to my mom, but in checking the comments instead, the most recent was from Chris…Rom 8:28. I echo many of the affirmatioms here concerning your gift of writing and the impartation of blessing, to many. I’m reminded of the promise Proverbs 18:16.

    God bless you, for freely sharing your gift…with so many. I felt compelled to share this, as a first time commenter.

    Reply

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