Sean from the South: good things

By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South


JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—A car accident. A crushed car, sideways in the median. Years ago.

Sean Dietrich (Photo courtesy of

She saw the car and stopped. She ran towards her. It was instinctive. She opened the door. The man was not breathing.

She worked part-time in a kindergarten. Preschools have mandatory certification courses in CPR. Just days earlier, she had practiced resuscitating mannequins in a church parish hall.

She pulled the man out of the wrecked vehicle. She found her sternum. Thirty compressions. Two rescue breaths.

He is alive today. Father of four children. He stays in touch.

ATHENS, Ga.— Nineteen-year-old Billy didn’t want to fight with fists. He had never been in a fight before. He saw a younger child being beaten by two big boys. He couldn’t stay out of it.

Billy, who had never thrown a punch in his life, plunged into the conflict. He repelled the two assailants, but not without being beaten.

Billy took the kid to the ER. They quickly became friends. He took the child home to meet his parents. The boy told them that he had lived with his uncle, who had neglected him.

Billy’s parents invited the child to live with them. They fixed the guest room. They bought him a Playstation. They fed him. They made it one of their own.

When Billy got married, the kid was his best man. When Billy had his first son, the child became godfather.

When the child wore a cap and gown to receive a diploma, seven people stood up and clapped for him.

HOOVER, Ala.—Leigh Ann was your classic shut-in. She was too old and weak to go anywhere.

Most of the time, she sat in a recliner to watch her stories on TV. Sometimes she forgot to feed herself. She had no one. She had been alone since her husband’s death. Leigh Ann had no children.

One day, a young man who lived on her street noticed that the address numbers of his house were falling off. He knocked on his front door.

He offered to fix the numbers. A conversation ensued. As they were talking, he noticed the paint peeling off his house.

The next day he arrived unannounced with five gallon buckets of paint, three friends, and ladders. They painted all day. That was almost ten years ago.

The young man and Leigh Ann became so close that he sometimes called her “Meemaw”.

He read the eulogy at Meemaw’s final service.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—Eliana had cancer. She was a young woman. It was a crushing blow. Two months later, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The next two years were hell. Read: operations, appointments and treatments. Then multiply that number by two. Their kitchen counter looked like a CVS pharmacy.

Eliana was lying on a hospital bed; her mother was next to her. His mother received IV treatments; Eliana was his shadow. They bent over the toilet bowls together. They shaved their heads at the same time. When their brown locks hit the bathroom floor, they cried until their faces hurt.

His mother prayed every night. “Take ME, God,” she said. “Let my daughter live.”

Eliana prayed the same thing, but in reverse.

But life doesn’t always turn out the way you think. Today they are cancer survivors.


Dear journalists:

Thank you for the stories of horrific tragedies, murders, sex scandals and senseless political acts. Thank you for digging up headlines that manage to break hearts and scare everyone. Thanks for pissing people off for no reason, all in the name of higher ratings. I know you’re just doing your job. And I know you don’t mean anything bad when you say “Good evening” and then shoot an hour of the worst footage from all over the world to prove that it isn’t.

But if you ever find yourself depressed, hopeless and without faith in the beauty of humanity, please put down your phone and just look around.

I promise, you will see something else.

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