I had a conversation with my brother this week. Nothing most would think is noteworthy. But for me, it was incredibly special.
Stevie is a kindhearted and loving person who has taught me much about life. He is also mentally retarded, functioning at about a 4-5 year old level. Growing up, we were inseparable. Other than school, he was by my side 24/7. His communication is somewhat limited in words but he speaks volumes with his heart.
With all this chaos in the world, I needed to hear his voice. He lives in a group home outside of Philadelphia and usually visits often with my mom. But, due to the Coronavirus, he has been pretty much confined to his home as the rest of us. Usually the conversation goes, “Hi Steve, how are you? I miss you and love you with all my heart and soul.” Usually he responds with, “Fine. I miss you too. I love you.” But this time it was different. When I asked, “How are you?” he responded, “I waiting for you.” My heart broke as I realized that he was lonely and wanted to let me know that he wanted to see me. My eyes still fill with tears just thinking about it. Four little words that said everything he was feeling.
I was lucky to have Stevie as my teacher growing up. He taught me about compassion, turning the other cheek, seeing the best in others and appreciating the little things in life like a hamburger, french fries and a Coke. Giving him a dollar is like giving someone else a hundred dollars. And of course, he is always the first one to offer to pay the bill in a restaurant with his money. Gifts to him are gifts that come from the heart.
So, why am I telling you all this? First, he is incredibly special to me, and my life, both personally and professionally, has been profoundly impacted. Secondly, he has always taught me lessons about how to treat others. Just a pat on the back from him when I’m feeling down changes my whole outlook on things.
I am blessed to have my brother Stevie in my life. He is a constant reminder of what is good in the world. He unselfishly shares his love, gentleness, acceptance of others and innocence. He is my role model. I am a better person because of him.
I realize that we all need each other and showing up is what counts. Be kind to each other. Seek for understanding. Let your actions speak for you. Smile. Reach out. It’s times like this that we need each other even more.
Please, on this Shabbat, think of the gifts you have in life and share them with others. We all need a little understanding, compassion and patience especially during these stressful and challenging times where the world seems upside down. We all need a Stevie.