• author
    • Donald Sanders

      Columnist
    • June 20, 2015 in Columnists

    The pain in my heart

    If I had only a few moments to live, I would do everything in my power to get to Therese’s arms. I have always, from the first moment I set my eyes upon her many years ago, been in love with her.

    I have seen heaven in her eyes before, so when I pass from this world to go to the next, that is where I will fix my attention. If I’m lucky, she will run her fingers through my hair like she used to do. That would be nice.

    I’ve always had a pain in my heart, always. Early in my childhood, I knew the pain my father felt in his heart, for it overflowed and seeped into mine. He had lost his mind on some unnamed atoll somewhere in the Pacific during World War II, so I don’t even think he was aware of the pain he passed to me. It was the pain of a soldier, full of anger, sorrow and love. We had just a terrible moment to share our pain before he was locked away to spend his entire adult life in an institution for the insane.

    Barely a year had passed from that moment with my father when my mother ripped my heart from my chest by walking away, leaving my younger brother, Michael, and I in a cold, dark Catholic orphanage in Little Rock. I knew her heart was dripping tears of pain directly into mine, filling it up, never to empty. An orphanage can be a horrible place for a kid with a pain in his heart. After my mother was gone, I lost my brother, only to find him years later.

    I walked past him on the playground because I didn’t recognize him. Something made me turn around. He was standing there with a shit-eating grin on his face, waving at me. He stood with his arm held up like he was saluting Hitler or something. At that moment I could feel the pain in his heart. It was full of fear, loneliness and love. My own heart was full of unbearable pain because I knew I could not protect him from the evil things that often happen in an orphanage full of children.

    That’s the way it went for me. One thing after another, and another, and another kept my heart in a state of constant pain. At one point in time, I had the notion that it might heal, allowing me to live a regular, normal life but that passed away too soon when I became a soldier in the Republic of Vietnam. With that, my pain grew to be unbearable but I found some relief in drug abuse that grabbed me by the neck and twisted it so hard I couldn’t feel my heart.

    In time, I found love with a girl named Therese. She was good for me in every way but I cannot say I was good for her. Time after time, all I could do was tear her heart out. The pain in my heart was so great that I couldn’t show my love to her like she openly showed her love to me. Now I can see that it was her love that has kept me alive all of these years. It gives me great pain to know that I should have been a better husband for her. I should have been a better man for her.

    For the last couple of years, the pain in my heart has been caused by something else. They say that the blood does not flow through it like it should. For some time now, the pain has been increasing. It’s sometimes a pain so severe that all I can do is rest and wait until it passes. Someday soon, it will not pass. I can see it coming and I cannot stop it when it gets here.

    I went to a doctor one time and he did a balloon job and put a stint inside my arteries. This helped for a time but the pain has returned, so the next step has to be surgery — but this I cannot and will not do. If it’s my time, then so be it, it’s my time. My attitude about it seems to anger Therese, for she thinks I’m giving up but that isn’t the case at all. I’m just living my life as well as I can while placing hope upon hope that when the time comes, I will have the strength to make it to her arms and while she runs her fingers through my hair I want my heart to empty hers of pain.



    • Oh, Donald… your heart is also so full of love. Great pain isn’t possible without great love. You should listen to Therese, and let them do whatever it takes to save your painful heart, for the world is a better place with you in it. There is still life to be lived, and every day that you wake up is an opportunity to hurt a little less. Try to look forward, rather than back… there is a lot of hair-stroking in your future.


      • Madgew

      • June 20, 2015 at 8:30 am
      • Reply

      Donald, this saddens me. You might just need another stent. You are vibrant and would leave behind a family and friends who love you. Please consider whatever surgery it takes to keep you alive and able to keep us filled with your stories of triumph, love and your crazy wild wisdom. Love you Donald Sanders.


      • liz newman

      • June 20, 2015 at 6:49 pm
      • Reply

      You had a lot of loss in your life. Listen to Therese. She can help you find the love in your heart to help you feel joy again. But most of all love yourself.
      No child deserves to grow up that way.((( HUGS))) to you & that little boy.


      • Carolyn Wyler

      • June 21, 2015 at 7:36 am
      • Reply

      Donald, I understand you not wanting surgery and that it can be real scary. I myself have also said that I wouldn’t want to be on a ventilator and have bypass surgery. I have worked with many patients and have family that have had it and they have lived many years afterwards and were glad they had it though. Know that there are many lives you have touched through your writing or from knowing you. You have inspired many and we all love you which is why we all want you around for many more years.


      • Maya North

      • June 21, 2015 at 8:46 am
      • Reply

      Oh, love, yes, you have had pain far beyond what most could ever survive, but you have had joy. You’ve had the love of an amazing woman who loves you still. You have an incredible son who loves you as well, and that’s no small thing. You have the joy of working on nature, the beauty of your writing. Others took and destroyed your past, but your present has so much beauty. My husband had the surgery in 1998 and he is still here. My father went on to live almost 40 years after his. Please, you have already been so brave. Get the surgery. Don’t leave your Therese to go on without you. Big hugs and nose smoochies…


      • David Lacy

      • June 21, 2015 at 1:02 pm
      • Reply

      I agree with everyone above. Sorry. I respect you and your opinion, but it’s because of that respect that I’d like to hear from you for years to come.



    • I’m not dead yet.



    • Donald… you should reach out to Christy Sillman. She is an expert on heart procedures. Please do.


      • Jesse Loren

      • June 23, 2015 at 1:55 pm
      • Reply

      Donald, you adorable man. You are lucky to have such love as Therese. Those early years of being alone must have been horrible, but now you have great love and so many people support you and love you. Please take care of your heart. Jesse



    Leave a Comment