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Never Over: From Chicken Soup For The American Idol Soul

Jan 27, 2008
Excerpt from Anthony Fedorov
Top 10, Season 4

You are the only one controlling your own destiny. Keep holding on, don't be afraid, just let your tears fade with the rain, it's never over . . . Anthony Fedorov and Daniel Freiberg

My brother was always there for me, despite the seven years between us. I always looked up to Denis and was happy to be the little blond shadow that followed him around twelve hours a day. We went to the same school in the Ukraine, and every time he'd turn around in the hallways, there I'd be with a big grin on my face. I was in awe of him. He hung out with the prettiest girls in school and was always strumming the coolest songs on his guitar. I was so proud to say, "That's my big brother."

Denis was my hero, so, of course, I always did what he said. Growing up, we'd take turns cleaning the house. One week I'd clean, and the next week he'd clean -- that was the rule. But, being a teenager, he had better things to do than mop and dust. He'd say, "Anthony, it's your turn to clean again," while giving me a wink and a knock on the arm. Sometimes I'd get stuck cleaning three or four weeks in a row! My parents never knew, and I never told on him. I was a good sport, and Denis could do no wrong in my eyes.

I didn't always know that Denis was watching over me, yet he'd pop up unexpectedly at times and share great words of wisdom. One time when I was eight years old, I was picking cigarette butts up off the streets with my friends. We thought it might be daring to try and smoke them. My brother got wind of it and almost knocked me into the neighboring town! I remember him yelling at me, "Anthony! These things can kill you! Don't let me catch you trying this again!" He put the fear of God in me while stuffing my mouth full of bubble gum so my mom wouldn't smell the tobacco on my breath. Denis always had my back.

We came to the United States when I was nine years old because my parents wanted a better life for their two sons. Getting here wasn't so easy. My mother and I were sent back at the border because of improper paperwork. Watching my father and brother go through those giant iron gates without us was one of the most terrifying moments in my life. To be separated from Denis was just incomprehensible to me. I thought about him every day and prayed we would be together again soon. Thankfully, months later, my mother and I were able to leave, and life started anew when our plane touched down in America.

As I grew up and began to sing more, Denis always encouraged me. "Anthony," he'd say, "you can do this. You were meant to sing. No matter how hard it gets out there, push through it because you have the gift."

Denis's words meant everything to me. If he said it, it had to be true. He believed that I should be a singer, and he never let me lose sight of it. And gradually, as I started to accomplish more, our roles changed. Over time, my brother started to look at me more as an equal -- not like a little kid anymore. And we went everywhere together. We were inseparable.

When American Idol happened, my whole life changed, but not my relationship with Denis. He'd call me up while I was on the show and tell me how proud he was of me. "You're doing great, little brother. Keep it up!" His words kept me moving forward with unstoppable focus and desire. I knew in my heart I was accomplishing a huge goal, but hearing it from Denis made it real for me. As my dreams were coming true, all I could hear was his voice saying, "You can do this, Anthony. Keep pushing. . . ."

Denis was right -- all the hard work and effort did pay off. I made it all the way to Number 4, and I was finally on my way. Even after I was voted off, I was on top of the world.

But my happiness turned to despair when I realized that my family had been keeping something from me while I was in Hollywood. Now the time had come for me to know. The phone rang. My mother's words left me numb.

"Anthony, Denis is very sick."

"How sick?" I asked.

"Denis has cancer, Anthony."

I didn't understand. I didn't know anything about the disease. As my mother told me more, I felt my heart break and my soul rip in half. My big brother was fighting for his life.

Denis fought with every ounce of energy he had. And I kept pushing him because I didn't want him to give in -- ever. His strength gave me strength. I wanted to be a part of my brother's battle every step of the way. I was by his side as much as I could be, but I also wanted to give him another reason to keep fighting. I knew that if I kept singing and moving forward, it would give him hope.

He wanted so much to be at my first sold-out concert. He wanted to see me on that stage -- that was his dream. His selfless words never stopped, "Anthony, keep singing. You have goals to reach. Keep going . . ." Because he was my big brother, I listened once again.

During his last days, Denis came out to the Binghamton Balloon Festival in upstate New York where I was performing. Soon after he arrived, we shared a moment that will stay with me forever. We climbed into the basket of a balloon together and gently rose up 3,000 feet into the clear blue sky. We stood looking out at the rolling hills and fields stretching to the horizon, our arms around each other's shoulders. Then he turned to me, and for the first time in a very long time, Denis smiled. As I smiled back, I knew our souls would always be together. Nothing could ever pull us apart.
Shortly after, Denis's battle ended.

When Denis passed away, it made me see what was really important. Now I feel I have to succeed not just for myself, but also for my parents. I want them to think about something else. I want them to be happy and enjoy their lives. Losing their son was unimaginably painful for them. I want to help them to smile again. I want to hear their laughter.

Denis was an angel long before he left this Earth. He was a great son and husband, and the greatest older brother and best friend a guy could have. Every good thing a person can be, he was, and he touched many lives. I learned from his passing that nothing and no one should ever be taken for granted. If you love someone, tell them -- every day. Cherish those you love and what you have together. And push for what you believe in as if it's the last chance you'll ever get.

As the curtain goes up on Broadway, and I'm standing there for the very first time, I know my big brother and best friend will be looking down on me, saying, "You did it, little brother, and I am here watching over you. You are in control of your own destiny. Our bond will go on forever and ever. It's never over."

(Reprinted with permission from Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul: Stories from the Idols and their Fans that Open Your Heart and Make Your Soul Sing).
About the Author
Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul is a collection of captivating stories that the television cameras don't see - true, uplifting, and entertaining tales told with humor and candor. Visit Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul
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