Sean from the South: Happy Birthday

By Sean Dietrich, Sean from the South


Eighteen years. It sounds like a long time, but it isn’t. Not when you think about it. Eighteen years is nothing.

It’s hard to believe that eighteen years ago we were just two regular people with two very different last names. It’s almost difficult to conceive of a period before we’re together.

Sean Dietrich (Photo courtesy of

I look at old photos of you and me, and marvel at how we’ve both transformed over the years. Somehow you’ve become more beautiful, more balanced, and your skin looks too smooth for your age. Somehow my nose had gotten bigger. My ass too.

Sometimes I travel back in my memory and try to remember what we were like when we first met. Are you already doing this?

I close my eyes and try to remember how naïve I was. And I’m trying to find a little that boy that I was.

God. I miss naivety. I miss being stupid, fearless and even stupid. I was less worried about the little things back then. I was more courageous. More confidence. Stupid, yes. But I also laughed more. Even when the world seemed to fall apart, I could laugh a lot.

But somewhere along the way, I grew up. I have become more careful, more responsible. In some ways I would like to think that I got better with age, over the last eighteen years, but in many ways I have become more rigid.

Even so, do you know what has not changed over the past eighteen years? We. We are still you and me. We’re still Sean and Jamie.

When we first met you were a balm for my broken heart. I had a pitiful childhood marked by the suicide of a parent, violence, loss, mourning. Then all of a sudden I met you.

Overnight, my world got bigger. My mind has shifted to a more beautiful place. Suddenly, this life was no longer dark and hazy, it was sunny and benevolent. Because I got you.

We spent almost every day together during this first semester. And when we weren’t together, we drove up your mom’s phone bill.

Our wedding day was the sixth anniversary of our meeting. It was the fastest marriage in Baptist history. Everyone in the church was suspicious of our haste and suspected pregnancy.

The elderly Baptist ladies still looked at your belly, asking if you felt nauseous and wondering if you should confess something. But the joke was on them.

The simple truth was, we were just together. That was all there was to it. And even at my young and foolish age, I knew it was right.

The past two years have been the toughest we have endured as a married couple. We have lost loved ones. We have lost your mother. We have lost normalcy. We have lost a piece of ourselves. And sometimes it seemed like we had even lost our clarity.

But every morning I would wake up in our bed with your two brown eyes looking at me. Sometimes there were tears in those eyes. Other times there would be tears in mine. Some mornings we would hug each other for hours until one of us went to wee.

And as the year got harder and harder, one way or another, you and I got a little bit stronger.

And now I understand. When I was little, I remember the elders talking about being married sixty or seventy years, and how sometimes they didn’t know if they would survive the hell of life.

I remember old people saying that there were days when they only had one other left.

Everything is explained now. I see what God gave me when he gave me you. He gave me the most powerful force in the universe, contained in a woman’s body. It is the same force that created the planets and aligned the stars. The same awesome force that created oxygen, water, fire, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field and the Atlanta Braves.

It was love. The same love that changes a man’s biology and his mind.

Ten thousand years from now, long after I’m dead and gone, and the world forgot that I was here; long after my ashes have mingled with the earth, my bones have turned to soot, and all traces of my life have been erased; there is one thing I know for sure. Wherever my spirit is in eternity, it will be with yours. Always. Because we are Sean and Jamie.

Happy birthday.

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