I nicknamed him Big B; he was my older brother. We were total opposites and drove each other crazy, but we also shared much, creating an unbreakable bond between us. We both know what it was like to believe that nothing we did, no matter how hard we tried, felt like it was good enough. Everyone who knew Big B adored him. He had a huge heart and believed in everyone else's goodness - except his own.
Big B tutored hundreds of kids who had been labeled by society as stupid, lazy, undisciplined or mentally challenged. My brother saw within them an ability to make a difference. He himself had a learning disability; it was his secret. Together he and his students knew what it felt like to be different in a world that had yet to understand.
In the last year of Big B's life he had another challenge to face, his absolute refusal to believe he was worthy of love. Big B was a beacon of light to all he touched and everybody knew it - everybody but him.
I was determined to prove to him that he was worthy of love. As cancer ravaged his body for the sixth and last time, he finally allowed me to enter his world of pain and confusion. During the last weeks of his life, only 80 pounds remained of his once 190-pound frame. His eyelids would not close, he was too weak to blink and his voice was a whisper. All I could do was hold him in my arms and love him. All he could do was accept it.
Big B was pampered around the clock and he came to love that. When he was too weak to talk, he would tap his fingers to motion me to hold his hand. My brother finally knew how to ask for and receive love! Decades of fights, misunderstandings and the helplessness of each feeling the other was unreachable had vanished. In the end, he totally surrendered to the wisdom of a higher power to help him understand the strange concept of self-love.
During one of our last conversations he secretly whispered to me, "I really am loved, aren't I?" It was the missing piece to his life's puzzle. He finally realized that he had the right to be loved.
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