We all have numbers. We have Social Security Numbers, Driver’s License Numbers, Insurance numbers, phone numbers, and street numbers. Each of us has all sorts of numbers. Those numbers can tell a person a lot about us. Our marital status, number of children, income, education, and more.
We are asked to have those numbers ready when we call certain agencies. Once the number is given the person on the other end of the phone says “Thank you,” our name and, “How can I help you today?”
Out of necessity we are reduced to a tally mark. We are one of millions in this country. One of many to a corporation, school, or neighborhood. We are one of so many voters, patients, students, and workers. To those that keep track, we are simply a tally mark among millions of tally marks.
The numbers are not us. They have information about us, but they are not who we are in this life. Those numbers do not hold our hopes and dreams, our hurts and sorrows, or our loves.
That is where you come in. You see the person. You touch them, hold them, help them. You bath them, shave them, and clean them up when they cannot do that for themselves. You are intimately connected and maintain the ultimate in respect for each person for whom you care.
You call them by name. They are Bill, Sally, and Susan. You laugh when they laugh. You cry when they cry. You calm them when they are anxious. You comfort them when they are scared.
They are not numbers. They were doctors, teachers, lawyers, plumbers, assembly line workers. They are a sister, brother, aunt, uncle, mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, niece, and nephew.
You dare to give a little piece of your heart to each of them. You dare to imagine their pain and then to enter into it. You do this knowing that it will leave a mark and change you forever. And still you give a piece of your heart, knowing the risk, because it is worth it. It is worth it because Bill, Sally, and Susan are worth it.
You give them dignity and respect.
You make sure that they are remembered. As a witness to their life, you give them dignity. You have given them beauty and strength, even if just for a moment.
You made sure that their number never, ever replaced their name.
You are a seer of people.
You are a caregiver: the keeper of names.