Sean of the South: Unseen


sean dietrich w dogBy Sean Dietrich

These aren’t my stories, but I’m going to tell them.

Let’s call her Dana. Dana was going for a walk near her home. It was a dirt road. Her high-school reunion was coming up, she was getting into shape.

A truck pulled beside her. He slowed down. He rolled his window open, he asked if she needed a ride.

Something was wrong. It was the way he looked at her.

Before she knew it, he’d jumped out of the vehicle. She tried to get away. He overpowered her and threw her into a ditch.

She landed a few good hits to his face, but he outweighed her.

He used a pocketknife. He pressed it against her. She screamed something. She doesn’t remember which words she used, but she aimed them toward heaven.

Something happened.

His body froze. Completely. He was like a statue, only meaner. She wanted to run, but she was too scared.

That’s when she saw another man standing above her attacker. He was tall, with a calm face.

“It’s gonna be okay, Dana,” the tall man said. “Go on home, sweetie, everything’s gonna be okay.”

Here’s another:

Jim was dying. A seventy-something Vietnam veteran with high morals, pancreatic cancer, and a two-packs-a-day habit.

Doctors said his cancer would kill him.

Treatments were hell. Jim met a man in the VA hospital. A homeless man with a duffle bag. A fellow vet.

They shared a few cigarettes. They swapped stories. They understood each other. Jim invited the man home.

The man stayed in Jim’s guest room. He stayed for several months.

He became Jim’s caregiver. He wiped Jim’s mouth after episodes of vomiting, he stayed up late during sleepless nights, he helped Jim bathe. He’d pat Jim’s back when nausea got bad, saying, “It’s gonna be alright.”

And he was there on Jim’s final day, too. He waited in the den while Jim’s family gathered around his bed. When the ambulance arrived, he hoisted Jim into it.

Nobody ever saw the man again.

And I’m not done yet.

Carrie was a nursing student. She was on her way home for Christmas break. Her children were in the car. They were singing with the radio.

She hit a deer. An eight-point. It shattered her windshield. Think: antlers, screeching, crashing, screaming. She blacked out.

She woke to the smell of gasoline. Her children were crying. She was bleeding.

A man appeared at her window. “It’s gonna be okay, sweetie,” he said.

He muscled her door open. He helped her out of the car, he carried her children to safety.
Only moments after they fled the vehicle, it caught fire and turned to soot.

The man didn’t stick around.

So anyway, I don’t know what you think about the nature of life. I don’t know how you feel about miracles. And I don’t care.

Because I know you—sort of. You’re human. Sometimes you feel like you’re losing.

Sometimes you feel overlooked and alone. Sometimes you talk to the sky and hope it will answer you. Sometimes you wonder if you’re going to make it.

I’ve spent this entire morning reading letters. They are stories sent to me from people who have seen things bigger than themselves.

It changed the way they see the world. It changed the way they think, even in hellish moments. And they have a message for you. It’s the same message that was delivered to them when they needed it most.

It’s going to be all right.