Sean of the South: Dear Becca

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Dearest Becca,

I am writing this shortly before boarding an airplane and flying 40,000 feet above the earth. I am about to leave the country, and I wanted to write before I go.
It’s funny, I’ve been humming the song “You Are My Sunshine” all day, thinking about you. This is a song people in my family sing to the people they love. Actually, the song is official code for “I love you.”

I remember when my mother sang it to me. I remember when I first sang it to my wife. I remember when my wife’s dying mother sang it to us only minutes before she passed.

Speaking of death. Soon, Jamie and I will be seated in the rear of the aircraft. We will be flying Livestock Class, where passengers are forced to ride with chickens in their laps. We do this because I am a writer, and writers do not make a lot of money.

For the next several weeks I’ll be in Italy, celebrating my wife’s 50th birthday. I’ve never left the country before, so it will be the most uniquely disorienting experience of my life except for the brief period I worked as a telemarketer. We will also be eating a lot of pasta in Italy. So when I return I will be fat.

But the reason I’m writing is because your mother said you were a little depressed because I’m leaving you.

I know you have a history of people leaving you, Becca. I can’t pretend to know what that’s like. But I know it has left a bad taste in your mouth.

You are 11 years old, and have already experienced more trauma than most humans ever will. You were born to biological parents who abused drugs. You were placed into the Great American Foster Pinball Machine before you were adopted by two loving parents.

You’ve endured heart surgeries, lymphadenectomies, ear surgeries, eye surgeries, and the list goes on. Then you lost your vision, and now you’re learning how to be blind.

But do you know what?

You can’t lose me. Not even if you tried.

I met you on a cold November day that will remain engraved upon my heart. You were holding your white cane. You hugged me tightly. You were so short you barely came up to my belly button. And it was the dawn of a friendship that would leave me a changed man.

My life is not the same as it was before. Because now my life has you in it. The time I spend with you is pure rapture, too rich to be described with a pen. You paint my soul with love. You make me want to be a better human.

My own childhood was miserable, Becca. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but I grew up in a severely broken home, riddled with abuse, mental illness, and sadness.

By age 16, I told myself I would never bring a child into this world because this place was too cruel. I didn’t want to ruin a child the way I was ruined. For years, I’ve held true to that promise. I’ve had very little to do with children. And I thought this was the way it would always be.

But then you came.

I’m not a smart man. I don’t understand how the universe works. But I know that sometimes two random people are meant to find each other on this planet, and when they do, it feels a lot like coming home. And somehow these two people just know they’ll be in each other’s lives forever. And well, that’s what happened when I met you. I found home.
And while I realize I’m not much to write “home” about, I am here. Here for you. And I will always be here. All I have is yours. All my possessions. All I know. All my heart. Yours, yours, yours.

I’ll be right here when you’re older, and you’re fed up with me; I’ll be around when you’re a teenager, and you finally discover what a consummate idiot I truly am; I’ll be here when you walk down the aisle, and we in your family circle all insinuate that the groom is not nearly good enough for you.

And even after I am gone from this earth, I’ll still be out there, somewhere, loving you. I’ll love you until the sun burns out. I will love you until the end of the age. I’ll love you even when Alabama is no longer a viable contender for a National Championship.

In fact, someday if you re-read this letter, long after I am dead and gone—maybe you’ll be having a bad day, or perhaps someone broke your heart, or maybe you’ll be feeling alone, like nobody cares about you—I want you to know something: There is nothing that could kill my love for you. Neither distance, nor time, nor illness, nor pain, nor principalities of hell, nor the void of death itself.
For you are my sunshine.

Eternally yours,
—Sean Dietrich