By Sean Dietrich
It’s been awhile since we last talked. And I know you’re busy. But I have something I’d like to ask, if you have a second.
Please—and I really mean this—let the kid I saw in Walmart play baseball this year. You know the kid I’m talking about. He was wearing a surgical mask. He is small and bony.
He’s not well.
I heard him ask his mother about playing baseball.
His mother answered, “The doctor says you gotta wait until you’re better, sweetie.”
“Please, Mom,” he said.
Listen, I know there are droughts, famines, wars, and one billion people suffering from pop country music. But that boy wants to play ball, God. He was almost begging.
Please. Just do some magic. Make his body work again. If you could just surprise him. That’s all I ask. Also, bless every person who feels unloved. Bless each soul who feels alone. Bless the ones who feel overlooked. And make the Atlanta Braves not suck this year.
Baseball, God. That’s what I’m getting at. You know how much it meant to me over the years. After my father died, it’s one of the things that kept me going.
A few more things: help Miss Bonnie. Her husband of forty-nine years was everything to her before he died. She’s a wreck. Look in on her if you get a chance.
Help Skittles, the dog, find an owner. She was found behind Piggly-Wiggly. But then, of course, you know the story already.
Thank you for cheese. What a great idea that was. And for my friends—even the ones I haven’t met yet.
Thanks for Daddy. I only knew him twelve years before he ended his own life, but I feel lucky to have known him at all. Some kids never know their fathers.
And for my mother, who raised us on a shoestring budget, without the help of her late husband.
The same woman who would be disappointed in me if she knew how long it has been since I prayed last.
Thanks for my wife. For the sound that the Gulf of Mexico makes. For saturated fats, the color yellow, Hank Williams. And the cardinal I saw while walking my dog.
And my dog. How could I forget her? Thank you for Ellie Mae. She’ll be thirteen this coming year. She smells like rotten oysters and stale armpit hair. But she has made my life perfect.
Thank you for beer. Tomatoes. And for premature babies who fight to live.
Thanks for the times you saved me from my own messes. For early mornings, when the sun is golden orange.
Thanks for not giving up on me. For helping me finish school as a grown man. And college. And for helping me not be embarrassed about that anymore.
The thing is, I don’t know exactly what you are, God. In fact, I don’t even know if that’s your real name. But I know that you’re a something. A good something. I know that no matter how messed up this world gets, you give a damn about us.
I know this. Even though I often forget it.
You have no reason to hear a word I say. Believe me, I understand that. After all, you’re making sunrises and spinning solar systems; I live in a trailer.
But please accept this whatever-you-call-it prayer from a man who doesn’t have any formal training on talking to you. Forgive me for times when I haven’t enjoyed my own life enough.
And let that kid play baseball, God. I mean it. Amen.
Sean Dietrich is a columnist, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South. His work has appeared in Southern Living, the Tallahassee Democrat, Southern Magazine, Yellowhammer News, the Bitter Southerner, the Mobile Press Register and he has authored seven books.