Dear Sean

Dear Sean,

I’m not sure what to do. My teenage son died in an accident three years ago… A few months ago one of his good friends started hanging out at our house…

We’ve become really close. He doesn’t have a very present mother. And I find myself wanting to love this boy in pretty much the same way we loved our son.

But every time I let myself feel love for this boy, I feel so guilty and stupid for feeling like that. He’s got a mother and family already. And he is not MY son, and he will never be MY son. I guess I just needed to vent. I don’t know.

My question to you is this: Should I invite him over for Thanksgiving this year? Or is that too much?




I was five years old. Standing in my aunt’s bathroom. My aunt had one of those toilet-seat covers made of carpet. I wonder who decided those were a good invention.

My aunt’s bathroom was a nondescript, old-lady bathroom that smelled like bath powder. And on the wall was a framed, embroidered piece of artwork that stands out in my memory.

My aunt had a lot of embroidery in the house.

Most of this embroidery was framed, featuring religious phrases such as, “The wages of sin is death.” And, “All liars shall have their part in the Lake of Fire.”

And the one in my uncle’s room: “If you don’t love Jesus, and you don’t root for ‘Bama, you’ll Au-Burn.”

But the particular piece of embroidery I’m talking about said: “The meaning of life is found in friendship.”

And I’ve always loved this phrase.

I don’t know what it’s like to lose a child. But I know that after you lose someone, something inside your brain shifts. You’re not even remotely the person you were before the trauma.

Everything is different. Tastes are different. Colors are different. You are the New You. And things never go back to normal. Never.

You’re forced to learn how to live in a new body. New life. New routine. To do this, you start looking for friends. Maybe you’ll even go so far as trying to piece together your old life. I did.

In my case, I tried to piece my father back together using other people. I’d find older men—all around his age—and attach myself to them, leech-like. We’d become good friends. And they helped me through a lot of hard times. Some of these guys even look like my dad.

But here’s the thing. Most of these male friends had families of their own. Children of their own. Lives of their own.

And sometimes, I’d be hanging around when one of their adult children would enter the scene. And I’d catch myself feeling like a complete dipstick.

Because this guy was THEIR dad. Not mine. We all knew that. Whereupon, I would feel everyone’s pity. In which case, I’d excuse myself and have a good cry because I was deeply embarrassed.

But looking back, I wish I wouldn’t have felt shame. Namely, because there is nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to friendship. Friendship is not embarrassing. Neither is love. Neither is grief. These are sacred things.

So you asked what I thought, and here it is:

Invite the kid over for Thanksgiving. Have the time of your life. Honor the memory of your son by being the mother you were made to be.

Because, if you ask me, the embroidery on my aunt’s wall was half wrong. The meaning of your life is not just friendship.

The meaning of your life is to help others find theirs.

Originally published on Sean’s website. Republished here with permission.

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