Dear Sean: Sleepless in New York


sean dietrich w dogBy Sean Dietrich

My doctor gave me some very bad news. I can’t even bring myself to talk about it. I’m so scared right now. I don’t know why God is doing all this to me. I am so angry with God right now. I hate God.


About 300 years ago, my wife and I were newlyweds, riding in the passenger seat of our crappy ‘88 Nissan Altima. My wife was driving.

My wife always drives. I’m pretty sure this was written in our wedding vows somewhere.
We were on our way home from Walmart, after buying groceries. And we were having an intense argument.

As newlyweds, we didn’t have much money. So buying groceries was a tedious ordeal for us. We would wander aisles, meticulously counting pennies, painstakingly deciding which products to forego, and which items were necessary for the success of our marriage.
On this particular shopping trip I was heavily in favor of buying a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon for our marriage.

My wife, however, said it would be a cold day in Hades before we wasted hard-earned cash on beer. She wanted instead to buy scented candles that were roughly the size of municipal fire hydrants which made our apartment smell like a brothel.

We got into an argument right in the middle of the store. It was the nuclear explosion of arguments. The kind of newlywed argument that lasted throughout the checkout line, the parking lot, and on the ride home.

So there we were, in the car. On the highway. We got so mad at each other that at some point my wife stopped the car and kicked me out onto the desolate two-lane road.

I was certain she was only trying to make her point. She wouldn’t actually leave me here on an empty highway, would she?

Yes, she would.

She slammed the door, stamped on the gas, and introduced me to the Florida state bird. She squealed off into the night like a bat out of Walmart. And I was all alone.

On my 11-mile walk home that evening, I began replaying our argument, play by play.

In the distance, I saw the neon glow of a beer joint, lighting up the darkness. I stopped inside to hydrate myself. I pulled up a stool and ordered an ice cold Ovaltine.

After about my third Ovaltine, I was feeling like a complete fool about our argument. I realized that I loved my wife. I was sorry I’d yelled. I was sorry I’d acted selfishly.

I asked the bartender where the payphone was and I called our apartment, ready to apologize.

But nobody answered. I called a few more times. Still, no answer. I kept calling and calling.

Finally, I dialed our next-door neighbor, Miss Jeanne. Elderly Miss Jeanne answered the phone in a voice loud enough to fracture commercial porcelain.

“WHO IS THIS?” she shouted.

I asked Miss Jeanne if my wife had gotten home recently.


“Please, Miss Jean! This is your next door neighbor.”


Miss Jeanne had to mute “Matlock” on TV before she finally got the gist of what I was asking. Whereupon Miss Jeanne told me that, yes, my wife had come home briefly, but she’d left in a hurried rush.

“Where did she go?” I asked Miss Jeanne.

“She’s out looking for you,” said the old woman.

I hung up the phone. I ordered one more Ovaltine, then paid my tab.

“What’re you suddenly so happy about?” the bartender asked.

“She loves me,” I said.

I left the bar and started walking home along the highway shoulder again, trying very hard to look pitiful. Hoping she’d find me.

She did. When my wife pulled alongside me, she leapt out of the vehicle. We hugged and kissed right there on the shoulder of the highway. Random trucks whizzing by.

We cried a little. We pressed our foreheads together and apologized with tears and snot.
And finally, my wife withdrew and held my face tenderly in her hands. She looked at me with wet eyes and said, “Why do you smell like beer?”

I am not an eloquent man. I don’t know what kind of misery you’re going through. And truthfully, I think we can all agree that I don’t know much about God. I do, however, know this:

He’s out looking for you right now.