By Samantha McKenzie
“It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong.”
Bishop Desmond Tutu
The African people have a philosophy known as “Ubuntu” (pronounced uu-boon-too) which loosely means, I am because of who you are. The term describes our connection to other human beings and the powerful bond that we have as the living. The power of “we” is a unifying concept that electrifies my soul. We are never alone.
I could write all day long of the many individuals who have impacted my life and have made my journey much more purposeful. This list, I declare, could never end.
But today I pay special homage to my sister, Allison.
As youngsters, I tried to mimic everything my older sibling did. I combed my hair like her. I tried to dress like her. I even learned to pop my gum the same way that she did (until mom made us both stop). When I finally made it to high school, I was enamored by her popularity. She introduced me to all of the cool girls and cute boys and didn’t seem too embarrassed by my arrival. I was so proud to be Allison’s little sister.
I’m sure if she told this story it would sound more like, I was a pain-in-the-butt copycat little sister, who used to steal her clothes and never put them back in the proper place. I kept my part of the room so sloppy that she was forced to sweep her side only. And so she did.
Although we sometimes fought and I was the bane of her existence most of our childhood, I still believed that everything about her was beautiful, smart and perfect. In my eyes, she was the person I most wanted to be like.
As we grew into womanhood, our bond grew stronger. We both got married, had children and lovingly witnessed our sisterhood flourish into a meaningful friendship. To this day, no one knows me like she does. And to this day, she knows that I will seek her advice on many things and only implement a fraction of her sound guidance.
But I credit her so much for the foundation I stand on. I learned about unconditional love through her example. She knows what I need before I tell her. She listens in humility and holds back on criticisms when she knows I need a helping hand. She is a warm, caring, giving person to all who know her. When I’m in pain, there is no one more accepting than she. I have asked her on several occasions how and why she has such a heart for me. When I squeeze my eyes shut, she is to me what heaven would be.
I am a part of her life and she is a part of mine. I am connected to the “all” and revel in the “us.”
I am because of who you are.