Anne Peterson

Healing words for wounded souls.

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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About Anne Peterson

I write words you can feel, sometimes they rhyme. If I'm not writing, I'm telling stories from my head, to little ones who call me grandma.

38 Replies

  1. Thank you for telling us the story.
    OR the nightmare.
    Love you Anne. Laura

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Judy Marcus

    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

    1. Judy,
      Thanks for reading the story. And thanks for your comments. You can keep the prayers coming. I’m writing Peggy’s story.

  5. You always touch me with your stories, even if you’re telling me something I already know. Another moving post, Anne, and again, I’m so sorry for your loss.

    1. Staci,
      Thanks for reading my post. And thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  6. Mandy

    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.

    1. Mandy,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the post. I so appreciate the prayers.

  7. James, Thanks for taking the time to read it. And yes, please pray for me as I work through this grief. It really was a shock to all of us.

  8. Coralie Strazewski-Reinhart

    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.

    1. 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.

  9. Anne, your brother sounds like such a wonderful man. I feel as if I knew him. I am so sorry for your loss. May God bless him with eternal joy and rest in Him.

    1. Kathleen,

      He was a wonderful man. Thanks for reading the post and for your comments, friend.

  10. Anne- what a heartbreaking and heartwarming telling… all in one moment of story. My heart is with you and praying for you and your family…. (hugs my tribewriter friend)

    1. Nancy,
      Thanks so much for reading my post. And for your comments. And thank you for your prayers. They are greatly appreciated.

  11. Anne- Thank you for the blessing of your words by allowing us into your world and sharing your story. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    1. Thanks so much for reading the post, Jennifer. And thank you for your comment. Yes, please keep praying.

  12. katinavaselopulos

    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!

    1. Katina,
      Thank you for reading my post and for your thoughtful comments.

  13. Oh Anne, I know it wasn’t easy to share this story – to relive the pain. Keeping you in my prayers.


  14. Joan,
    Thanks for reading my story and also thanks for all the prayers.

  15. George Sculptor! Gollas

    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.

    1. Yes, George, thankfully we will be with Steve in heaven. Love you too, Sculptor.

  16. laurenhuss

    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.

    1. Lauren,

      Thanks for reading it. Yes, God does have purpose in the pain. Thanks for your condolences.

  17. laurenhuss

    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.

    1. Thanks for the hug, Christa.

  18. Kathy Boulter

    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

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read it, Kathy. Yes, please feel free to share it with whomever you choose.


  19. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    1. Theresa,
      Thanks for taking time to read it. I appreciate it.

    2. Thanks for reading it Teresa.

  20. 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.

    1. Marilyn,

      I liked thinking about the reunion we will have in heaven. It will be something. I am enjoying doing the assignments again in Tribewriters. I just love this course.

  21. Anne, no words can describe my feeling after reading about Steve. You are an amazing person. So strong. Patricoa

    1. I’m learning embracing my pain gives me access to write about things universal to others. And in so doing, feelings held prisoner can finally be released.

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