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  • Nemi

This Thing Called Life...

I've come to the point in my life to where I'm beginning to understand what sacrifice and love are really all about, it seems. I was a child, yesterday, and in the blink of an eye, war, greed, and a hope for a better tomorrow ripped the fabric of my family apart, war ripped my country apart.

My childhood used to be filled with hopes of carrying a gun and exacting all the rights which were turned wrong! What did I know about war, what did I know about government, politics, patriotism; I was here in America, learning to be American but my head has always been back home in Liberia.

Since my days as a child, I've been aware that I'm different, the smiles and jokes which people see and hear are simply a facade of the pain and anger which fester inwardly. Tonight, yes, tonight, I'll share a bit of myself, a bit of what is hidden behind the dimples, the hair, and the style.

My family is fragmented and some of those fragments reside here in the United States and abroad, whether that be Africa or Europe. The youth of the family do not know each other, I have one cousin, out of dozens, who is consistent in picking up the phone and leaving a message, text or voice, I have one aunt out of a family tree who picks up the phone to say, "I'm just thinking of you nephew."

This thing called life and family is laughable more often than not and I've been saying it for years that we're merely "family" in name; when our parents pass so will the glue of said bonds which should be in place but aren't, perhaps will never be.

In the forty years and a little change which I've been granted here on earth, I've learned to act, act as if everything is perfect, well things aren't perfect; I long for connections.

The man pictured above is my mother's younger brother, my favorite uncle on her side of the family. I'm not sure if I painted my words correctly, above, and stated that war is cruel, war divides! Due to distance, my uncle visits perhaps once every five years or so, feels like longer, and with those brief visits of two to three days, I hear about home, I hear about how I should come and visit Liberia.

This picture was taken right before Thanksgiving of last year and on this particular day, my uncle wanted to "hang out" as he said it, with his nephew. I'm no longer a child but I sat with my uncle and listened to him speak of his want for me, for my life; it's amazing when you can feel that someone loves you for what they see in you but you do not quite see in yourself. I digress...

Our culture is one of structure both family and religious, we're to love our elders and raise our young with a sense of tradition a sense of pride, I understand this because it's the approach my parents have taken with myself and my siblings. During our time together, my uncle stressed the importance of family and of happiness, however, he wasn't pushy in saying, "Look nephew, you're getting old and you need to find someone who wants the same things as you, a family, happiness, etc." I knew in my heart of hearts that his message was being filtered through him but it was really from a collective group of family members (parents, aunt, and my uncle), it's not my first family rodeo.

My uncle and I talked, ate, and laughed that afternoon and then it came time to say goodbye and when it comes to my uncle, I'm not the greatest in saying goodbye; you see, for me, he's the link for so much back home, he is the bit of home which I get to touch for only a moment.

Tonight, I received word from my mother that my uncle was in an accident, while on his way to a conference, if I'm not mistaken on the destination. The vehicle he was in was carrying kids and there is report of a casualty. The tone of my mother's voice wasn't completely bleak when I asked if my uncle was injured, she simply said, "He'll be okay, the main reason for my call is to ask you to pray."

I've forgotten how to pray but tonight I'm thankful for this thing called life.

Love you unc...

- Nemi

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