My Strong Heart Broke

My Strong Heart Broke

It was just like she said. When the ER doors opened, people began rushing towards me. Someone put little patches on my chest while a blood pressure cuff was strapped on. Another nurse looked for a willing vein.

I just wanted the pressure in my chest to stop. Especially since my brother, George had been to the doctor just a few days prior with a 70% blockage. 70% used to be a C, it was good. But not when it comes to blockages.

I couldn’t relax. And forget about modesty it’s impossible in an ER.

“You’re blood pressure is dangerously high!”

“Are you on medication for hypertension.”

“Did you take your meds today?”

More probing, more cuffing, more questions. And then the room got quiet. We waited for results.

My husband Mike decided to go back home to Jess, our daughter who was worried. I could wait for the results. I could call Mike if I needed him. And honestly, I relaxed more without seeing his worried eyes.

Quietly I wondered if coming to the ER was a mistake. I had spoken to Prompt care, telling them my symptoms and she advised it. I made the right decision.

The cuff around my arm tightened. That hurts. I could tell my pressure was still high.

One hour turned into two then four. Someone came in to attend to my upset stomach. In the meantime Mike was back with Jess. The nurse told me,

“I’m giving you this special drink. It will numb your tongue and eventually numb your stomach. Then you won’t feel any pain.”

I took a swig. I could feel my mouth numb, but my stomach wasn’t cooperating.

I couldn’t stop looking at the nurse.

“You look just like my brother, Steve” I said. “Don’t you think so, Mike?”

“Maybe around the eyes,” he answered quickly.

When the doctor finished talking, Mike followed him out of the room.

“What was that about?” I asked Mike when he returned.

“Nothing,” he lied.

I would be spending the night. Soon I’d be taken to my room. Maybe I could finally get some rest. I said goodbye to my family.

Around 11:30pm, I was wheeled to my room. My roommate and her guest were sleeping, so I slipped into a waiting bed and closed my eyes.

In the morning, I met my roommate and we visited a bit.

The doctor came in and explained my heart was strong, I had not experienced any trauma. I was to return next week for a stress test.

My roommate’s family members trickled in the room. When Mike came in with Jess I introduced him to everyone.

He was preoccupied. After shaking hands he suddenly turned to me with urgency. The words blurted out.

“I’ve got bad news to tell you. Your brother, Steve died yesterday. He had a heart attack.”

Immediately he stood by me, while Jess joined us. Someone pulled the curtain shut for privacy and I heard people leave the room.

I started yelling over and over, “No, no!”

Thinking back on those two days, I remember that nurse. Steve’s look-alike. I wonder if God sent him as a gift?

I learned while I was on my way to the ER, Steve died at home. That week all three of us struggled with our hearts.

I can’t believe he’s gone. He called me to tell me,

“Anne, I read your book. It’s really good. And I’m not just saying that.”

At Steve’s funeral I saw so many people he had touched with his big heart.

I wish I could talk to him once more, see him again.

I have no regrets. Steve knew I loved him.

When I was in 5th grade I wrote a story about my shadow who followed me everywhere I went. At the end of the piece I revealed it was Steve, my three year old brother. As one of the winners, I got to read my essay on the radio in downtown Chicago.

I’ll always miss my brother, but I’m thankful. Thankful God gave me Steve. He was a great guy with a big heart.


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38 thoughts on “My Strong Heart Broke

  1. I guess that night it felt like a nightmare. I’m not in the same place right now. Still working through the grief and it’s been hard because it was so sudden. Thanks for reading Laura.


  2. Wow Anne – thanks for sharing this initmate and painful story with us. So glad you ended with good memories of your brother and the love between you. Will be praying for you as you process your grief. Be very blessed.


  3. Thank you for sharing details about Steve’s passing. You are a wonderful woman and your words help so many people. Sending love your way, Judy Marcus


  4. Sorry for your loss Anne. You and your family will be in my prayers tonight. Thank you for having the courage to share such a moving and personal account.


  5. Steve was the first real friend I met at Burger King as a kid. It was my first job, I knew nothing about fast food, cash drawers and I had never ever been out that late before. He was a great trainer, a whole lot of fun, accepted me into the fold quickly. It helped the first night when my mom came in. She was a little spitfire of a woman. 1/2 Greek, 1/2 Irish, and not the calmest part of either. She took one look at him, struck up a conversation. and they laughed, while I worked. and the next 20 years when he would stop by the house it was always the same, It would be as if we saw him yesterday. Oh how I wish it was yesterday. One more fun conversation. One more great big bear hug. You are so lucky to have had him for a brother, If I could have had a brother I wish he could have been mine.


    • Coralle,

      Thanks so much for reading the post. Yes, that sounds like Steve, accepting you into the fold. He had a knack for making people feel welcome. What a sweet thing to say, you wish he had been your brother. I miss him terribly and still can’t get over the shock of it.


  6. O, Anne, you have gone through so much. Yet, you come out a winner as your trials turn into triumphs. Sharing all the intimate, sad details of those moments show you as both frangile and strong, both of which make you a very special full of spirit person.

    God’s blessings to you!


  7. Anne, going through the trauma of health concerns and dealing with loss of the closest kind of love is something one can survive coming out with warm heartfelt memories can only with be done with Him. What we lost though we are siblings, that love, can never again be grasped or shared again in this world. Thankfully we all will meet in His World which He has prepared for us. Love you Sis.


  8. Anne, what a horrific story to have to live and to tell. I know God always seems to have purpose in the pain. You are living proof if that! I am so very sorry for your loss. And am grateful that your strong but broken heart is in the mend. Hugs & prayers.


  9. Anne,
    What a horrific story to live through, and how brave you are to tell it so soon. I am so very sorry for your loss. And very glad that God has used your strong but broken heart to minister to others during your healing process. Hugs & prayers for you at this difficult time.


  10. Anne,
    Thanks for sharing your painful story which, unfortunately, is only one of many for you. Thankfully, you have fond memories of your departed siblings which can ease the pain. Stay strong! Hugs and prayers.
    P.S. I forwarded it to Judy and Mary.
    Kathy Boulter


  11. I remember you telling the story of how your essay won and you got to read it on the radio. And that was one of the starting points of your life as a writer. Now I know the essay was about Steve. I also know that Steve liked your book. It all makes me wonder about the reunion in Heaven for you and your family. I think it will be like the ending to the very best kind of love story where people stay faithful through hardship. I like those love stories the best. They aren’t about romance or attraction, they are about commitment and devotion. That’s how God has loved me, I have not earned it. But I am inspired to learn it. To love others that way.


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