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  • After a deep breath, I stepped into room five of the ICU at the local hospital. My feet and my lungs felt like dead weight, unable to move forward and unable to breathe. In the middle of a jungle of machines, wires, and whirling white coat-clad hospital staff was my brother. Monitors beeped and his ventilator honked, signaling a cacophony of distress. My eyes burned with the threat of hot tears as I watched the rise and fall of my brother’s chest and pined for his recovery. My brother had congestive heart failure. Upon the diagnosis, it was evident that his days were numbered and quickly expiring. He battled his condition fearlessly before a cardiac arrhythmia took his life nine months later.
    I wish my most vivid memory of my big brother was not the terror that it is. I wish my brother was still here for that matter. Regardless, I wish that not one of my memories about the most influential person in my life—my brother, Tony—is ever forgotten.
    Growing up, Tony filled the role of the tough, protective big brother. He was always teasing me for no reason, just like he was always threatening to pulverize anyone who ever hurt me. He looked hard on the outside, but his huge heart was quick to love and eager to help anyone. He constantly chased his dreams until they were securely under his belt, and even then, he would discover new aspirations and pursue them until his satisfaction was reached. He was a physician’s assistant, and he made a difference in many lives, working under an interventional cardiologist on vein harvesting for coronary bypass surgeries.
    My big brother left behind a legacy of bravery, dedication, and liveliness that I look up to every day. Losing such an influential person in my life has been extremely painful. It was like noticing a noteworthy frame of reference had disappeared, and I was forced to redefine significance and meaning in my life. I am now a better person because of this profound hardship.
    Despite the abrupt ending to Tony’s life, his death was not in vain. He lived so fully during his 35 years that I know he had no fear leaving this world. He faced his disease with an admirable courage that I have always wished to exhibit myself. Tony’s commitment to his education has always encouraged me to aim for the best I can achieve. Complacency was never part of my brother’s life, and he has inspired the same for mine. It is ironic that his heart ultimately failed him because it was arguably his greatest quality.
    Tony’s legacy is what drives me to succeed. In my mind I will always hear the beep of the monitors and the honk of the ventilator, and it will continue to haunt me. It is this memory that inspires me to strive for success while living each of my days to the fullest, holding my big brother close to my heart.
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