By SEAN DIETRICH
Out of the seven billion people in this world, I saw you.
It was yesterday. You let a lady cut in line at the supermarket. An elderly lady. She was wearing a plastic COVID face shield, toting a fanny-pack oxygen cylinder. I watched you follow this woman to her Nissan Altima and load her groceries.
And last week I saw you. You were mowing a lawn. You, your teenage son and your friends had all organized a weekly lawn maintenance schedule for a man whose legs were amputated due to diabetes. You work free of charge.
It was also you who returned my neighbor’s dog when the animal went missing. You hiked through four miles of backwoods with a pocketful of dog treats, calling its name. You aren’t even from our town. Someone told me you were vacationing here from Oregon.
Oregon, of all places. The Beaver State.
You sent money to 16-year-old Sara, a terminal cancer patient, as part of an online fundraiser. Altogether Sara raised nearly one hundred thousand bucks before she died. And while you couldn’t save her life, you certainly showed the world how beautiful her life was.
You adopted a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome even though you are 56 years old and have already raised three children.
You donated blood.
You donated a stack of Louis L’Amour books to our local library. For which I can’t thank you enough.
And those are just the apparent things you did. What about the itty-bitty everyday things you do? Things nobody sees?
Like when you held the door for the gal walking into the Dollar General.
Or when you handed a few bucks to the guy outside Walmart who held a handwritten sign reading: “Hungry.”
Or how about each time you put on your scrubs to work a double shift in the emergency department? You administer IV fluids, take patient samples, and supervise a junior staff of medical workers who all draw confidence from you.
You don a forest green polyester uniform, duty belt and badge, and patrol my county. You take huge risks in the name of law enforcement.
You collect my garbage on Tuesdays and Fridays, and you always wave at me from your perch on the Waste Management truck bumper.
You deliver my newspaper. And I know from real-life experience what kind of private, sleep-deprived hell this occupation entails.
You. You are always there, making my life immensely better just by being you. And the greatest thing about you is, you don’t know how great you are. In fact, that’s part of your charm. Don’t ever lose it.
I wonder sometimes why you aren’t famous, considering all you do. But then, maybe the better question is: why do we applaud the wrong people?
Why do we pay so much attention to the popular, what makes celebrities so special? Why are we, the ordinary Joes and Josephines, so transfixed on celebs with flawless body parts and the emotional depth of coleslaw?
I ask you, who spent the night in the ICU with a 48-year-old woman dying of pancreatic cancer, holding her hand, simply because “chaplain” was printed on your nametag? That was you. You did that.
Who rescued a second-grade child named Gracie from a sexually abusive home; then taught her to overcome a speech impediment; then helped her graduate college; then attended the birth of her firstborn daughter last month? You did.
Who brought home an elderly basset hound named Al from a local shelter since nobody else in the county wanted him? You.
Who prepared hot food for my family after my father’s suicide?
Who wakes up each morning, makes coffee, cooks breakfast and attempts to teach teenagers the art of conversation without playing on phones?
Who deals with laundry piles so big that, based on their size and weight, one might assume that there are people living in your house who you haven’t even met yet?
Who works hard to maintain a happy disposition even though life kicks the beef stew out of you sometimes?
You, yourself, and thou.
So please read the next paragraph slowly because I truly mean every corny, clichéd, EZ-cheesy word.
Thank you. Thank you for all you do. Thank you for not only being who you are, but for being so incredibly human. I appreciate you. You are, hands down, the best part about living in this great big, often frightening, ever confusing, but stunning world.
And although the following statement is said often, it cannot be said often enough: God bless you.
All 7.674 billion of you.