I Am Because of Who You Are

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

7ba55b2c372adb82e095fa4e60eb4a9bThe 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.

allisonI’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.

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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.

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