Yonder City

...On the morning of my father's death, my aunt opened the windows—she was a superstitious bird. Just then, a stiff breeze kicked up. It was a chilly wind that felt like good music.

7:32 P.M.—I’m looking at heaven. My truck is parked in a peanut field right now. My coonhound, Ellie Mae, is in the passenger seat, eating my barbecue sandwich.

I just left a wedding. It was in an old clapboard church. I waited in line to shake the groom’s hand.

He hugged me and said, “God, I wish my daddy were here.”


His father’s been dead a while. I remember the day his father fell off that roof. That year, my friend wore his daddy’s jacket all the time—even in summer.

Just before I congratulated his bride, he whispered, “You think people in heaven can see us?”

All I could say was, “I hope so.”

I wish I would’ve thought to say something more poetic.

Anyway, I had to leave the reception early because Ellie Mae was waiting in my truck.

On the drive back, we stopped for barbecue. I ordered one sandwich for myself, one for Ellie.

And now I’m in a field, wondering if this isn’t what heaven’s like. Quiet. I hope heaven isn’t too loud and obnoxious like some preachers claim.

I once attended an Iron-Bowl tailgate party in Birmingham. It was so noisy I had a headache for three days. If eternity is anything like that, I’d rather raise peanuts with my fellow sinners here below.

I also hope my friend Tyler is up yonder—wherever yonder is. He overdosed on Methadone. That was a shock. None of us thought he touched anything harder than Budweiser.

One afternoon, I showed up at his apartment. A woman in a maid’s uniform answered the door. She told me the former tenant had passed.

Former tenant.

Tyler said once that he believed dead people turned into music. And I’ve thought about that a lot since he died.

“You know how music gives you chills?” he explained, killing a Budweiser. “And everything makes sense? That’s where we go. Like music.”

Tight as he was, I know what he meant.

Because on the morning of my father’s death, my aunt opened the windows—she was a superstitious bird. Just then, a stiff breeze kicked up. It was a chilly wind that felt like good music.

Maybe Tyler had it right.

Tonight at the wedding, my friend looked good in his tux. His bride was a picture. And when the preacher instructed them to kiss, they didn’t. Instead, they embraced, pressing foreheads.

My friend cried.

So did I.

We, the congregation, knew who he was thinking about. I closed my eyes and remembered a dead man of my own.

And when the matrimonial music played, I got a chill.

The truth is, I have nary a credential to my trailer-trash name. And on matters of eternal importance, I have no inside knowledge. But I believe one thing with absolute certainty.

Wherever our loved ones are…

They see us.


  1. Carol DeLater - January 20, 2017 4:51 pm

    Everyone has an idea of what the hereafter REALLY is. I have mine too and it’s pretty close to the music theory..The kind you hear when a quiet breeze rustles through the trees and you have to be really in tune with Nature to hear. Our essence is everywhere. We see and we know and if you pay attention you know our Essence is ever present.

  2. Maureen - January 20, 2017 9:00 pm

    They do. Don’t ask me how I know, but I have felt the nearness of those I have loved.

  3. Mary Ellen Hall - January 21, 2017 12:50 am

    I believe so too!!
    I just KNOW my “best friend”-my Mom, is watching me DAILY!!!


  4. Debbie - January 21, 2017 12:56 am

    This is so comforting to anyone who has lost a loved one.

  5. Emily Joyner - January 21, 2017 7:35 pm

    Wow, Sean, you amaze me with your writings!
    This one is top notch, buddy! I have been told that at Hospice centers, the attending g nurse opens a window to let the spirit depart, right after a patient dies! I like this idea…..
    I do know for a fact that they can see us, as a dear friend told me a week before she died, that I wouldn’t be able to see her-but she could see me!!! Double Wow!!!!

  6. Joseph Mullan - January 21, 2017 8:06 pm

    Absolutely another classic ..as always ..Sean..your thoughts and local dialect are incredible puts one right in the heart of the southern states of the U.S. of A…just love it ..thank you ..again

  7. Sherry Williams - February 9, 2017 3:18 pm

    Yes, Yes, Yes, and I believe it is not a coincidence to read this on the earthly birthday(2/9) of my beloved niece. Heaven is just a whisper away as are those who reside there.

  8. Janice Ingram - February 9, 2017 4:31 pm

    I believe they let you know they are there. As we were cleaning out our mom’s storage house after she died, we took a break and were standing around talking….all of us girls…..and a hummingbird flew down among us and just stayed there for a long time and then turned and flew away. Our step sister said, That was Nell. She was telling us everything will be alright. I truly believe that. I have saw it happen too many times.

    • Larry - February 10, 2017 12:46 am

      Thanks for sharing. Your comment brings tears to my eyes and warms my heart.

  9. Susan Victoria - February 9, 2017 5:36 pm

    Talk about chills. This one made the little hairs stand straight up on my neck. My father now deceased was a well known writer of religious music and said that the inspiration for many of them came in his sleep and he felt they were divinely inspired. He would have LOVED to become music!

  10. Connie - February 9, 2017 5:36 pm

    I luv today’s thoughts…very comforting. Feb is not my favorite month as next Monday the 13th is anniversary of daughters death. She was 19 and I think about her everyday…a forever home in my heart.❤️

  11. Wendy Boston - February 9, 2017 6:17 pm

    I love this amazing thought about music, my dad passed away after battling depression, he was kind and sweet and funny, his favorite song was Hank Williams, jambalaya. When I listen to it I smile, remembering his smile, and I know wherever he is he’s okay and he left me a little piece of happiness and a memory of who he truly was on his best day, I can play that song any time I miss him and I smile… And I know he’s smiling with me : )) Thank you Sean.

  12. Rebecca Dill - February 9, 2017 11:17 pm

    Loved this Sean. My parents were bird lovers. They feed the birds around their home year round. I remembed my dad saying Dot come look at the redbirds. Lost my dad six years ago and lost my dear mother two weeks ago. The day aftef the service i walked my dog around our home. Two of the most beautiful redbirds i have ever seen flew by .Then sat on a limb side by side. I feel that it was moms way of saying im with your dad now do not grieve for me.

  13. Tony - February 10, 2017 2:48 am

    Catholics know this…

  14. Patricia Hartzog - February 10, 2017 8:21 pm

    “You know how music gives you chills? And everything makes sense? That’s where we go. Like music.” ?❤

  15. Nancy Kane - March 9, 2017 2:33 am

    I have pondered on this a lot. The difference between Heaven and here… is time.

  16. LARRY WALL - September 16, 2017 8:59 pm

    Thanks, Sean. And when I too pass from this earthly existence I hope that when my family and friends ever hear ‘Blue Bayou’ that they will know it is me and that I am nearby. And watching.

  17. Annette H. Bailey - January 22, 2018 9:49 am

    Hmmm….my Mother has been watching me cry from heaven every day for 6 months now. I know she’s happy in heaven with Dad, her two brothers, sister, and parents. But man….I sure do miss her right now. She was my movie buddy and boy howdy did she and I love gospel music. I use to sing gospel music but changed to country. Maybe one day…because she was sad when I stopped….but she understood. Mom always understood us and supported us. That’s why she was such a great Mom. So Mom, give Dad a big hug and kiss for me. I’ll see y’all again one day! Thanks again Sean. I missed seeing you twice when you came to my hometown. Once due to bad weather and the other time, I was out of town and couldn’t get home in time. But one day soon. I heard you were great! ?

  18. Alan Stanley - January 22, 2018 11:21 am

    I know they are watching and sometimes they are there to nudge you into doing the right thing. I can also say that heaven was peaceful and not loud. Yeah, I “died” once and made it to the “entrance” to heaven. Then someone told me I had to go back. They said my mission in life was not complete. I was twenty five at the time. Now I’m 70. At my age you see many people pass on. But I know they are up there watching and waiting for me. Good story. Hit home.

  19. Fran McGraw - January 22, 2018 3:58 pm


  20. unkle - January 23, 2018 5:04 pm

    They sure do see us and from time to time you will get a glimpse of them, just as they go around a corner. We may feel alone , we may seek solitude but we are never alone . Uk

  21. Charaleen Wright - March 21, 2019 6:05 am


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