When a smile breaks your heart

Nick, Bournemouth,

Nick, Bournemouth, before the attack

I frequently write about my son… as I see him every day, it is natural that he is very much part of my everyday life, even without the story of his incredible journey to tell. But I have two sons, and my younger son’s story is a quieter tale.

Alex is three years younger than his brother and they were inseparable. When Nick, always the daredevil, climbed trees and got into scrapes, Alex was with him. Nick loved books and taught his little brother to read, blond heads together, poring over the pages of Dr Seuss and the Narnia stories. Where Nick was always sharp, brilliant and bright, Alex was a warm, golden glow. Apparently alike in many respects, they approached life from opposite angles; they were very different. Even so, together they managed to get into… and out of… huge amounts of mischief as they grew. They often argued as brothers do, but they were always very close.

Nick and Alex, April 2009

Nick and Alex, April 2009

I will never forget Alex’s face when I had to tell him what had happened that morning. The call had caught me off guard… how could it be otherwise?…and I had neither control nor frame of reference at that moment to guide me. Alex was asleep. He shot out of bed as I entered his room; he already knew. Somehow. Not the details, of course. But he knew. Raw grief in the eyes of your child… and there was nothing I could do to ease it. Nothing I could say. I knew so little. Only that my son, his brother, was going to die. Looking into those fear-streaked eyes, I understood that if he did, I would lose both my sons.

Days and nights of fear followed. The terror unnameable of every parent as I watched my sons suffer, helpless to help. Alex cycled through anger, fear, hope and despair and his eyes were raw. I find it hard even to call up that imagine in memory. Yet it is Alex’s eyes that I remember most clearly from those weeks of hell… but not for the pain in them. For the smile…

Before he walked onto the hospital ward, my son’s eyes were dark pits of pain. Yet, as he stood beside his brother, those eyes softened, radiating love. And he smiled.

That smile broke my heart.

Knuckles blackened with bruises from punching walls in a futile expression of grief. Two hands, one brown, one pale and lifeless, gently cradled. On every ward, in every hospital, as Nick went from the oblivion of deep coma to growing consciousness, Alex was beside him, talking softly, and smiling.

It touched all who saw them together. The nurses said that it was as if a light shone around the quiet bed when Alex was there. Or that it was beautiful to watch them together. Or that they couldn’t, because it made them cry.

It takes courage to smile for another. Courage to smile when you are broken. Courage… and something else… For me, it is the abiding memory of that time. Two hands, one smile and eyes that shone with love.

Nick and Alex, Bournemouth, the day of the trial

Bournemouth, the day of the trial

Nick was the victim of the attack that night. It is he who has fought with utter determination to recover what mobility and normality he can. It is he whose story is known and whose miraculous recovery has touched so many hearts. But he was not the only victim… not the only one left hurt and broken by this senseless attack. There is never only one victim.

The effects of such events affect a widening circle of people. The effects of brain injury, whether acquired through trauma or illness, affect whole families. They cut deep and are slow to heal.

We knew so little of what to expect, had no idea how to cope or what to do. Information was critical in helping us to adjust, letting us see a way forward… helping us to cope with a situation so unnatural we had nothing to guide us.

That is why, on August 9th, Nick is riding in the Para-Tri triathlon, to raise awareness and also funds for the UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum, a place that provides such information to those who face the trauma of a dramatically altered life.

Image1859

Defiant, 2010

With nine days to go on the campaign, Nick has raised a quarter of his target of £3000 for charity. Once more I would like to pay tribute to the generosity and incredible support the blogging community has shown… most of this is down to you, as you have reblogged, linked, tweeted and shared.Please continue to help Nick reach his goal as we approach the Para-Tri triathlon in Windsor of Sunday 9th August. Thank you!

If you don’t see the REBLOG button, please click into the post by clicking the title to bring it up… and thank you!

Click here to visit Nick’s Campaign… and please support him by sharing or donating if you can. Thank you!

Update: With your help, Nick raised £3000 for UKABIF at the triathlon. He went on to ride the London to Brighton, raising funds for Headway and later recieved the UKABIF Award for Inspiration for what he had done.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in Brain injury, Grief, Love, Motherhood, Nick Verron, Surviving brain injury and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to When a smile breaks your heart

  1. A smile- a world can be seen and felt in that one thing. Congrats to Alex for being so strong and supportive of Nick.

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Wendy Anne Darling and commented:
    More about Nick’s story and how it affected his brother. Please support this wonderful campaign if you can – every pound and dollar helps!

    Like

  3. Reblogged this on ladyleemanila and commented:
    to Nick and brother, Alex x Thanks Sue for the lovely post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. amommasview says:

    Reblogged this on A Momma's View and commented:
    Let’s support Nick!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. raphaela99 says:

    I am in awe of your sons. Xxx

    Like

  6. Reblogged this on Richard Ankers and commented:
    I dare you not to be moved.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beth says:

    Reblogged this on Smiling to life.worldpress and commented:
    A story to touch the hearts of many, a story of love, courage and determination. A story of contradictions of cruelty and affection from the same society…Good on you both not losing fate and giving us courage to go on in life…Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Sue Vincent with a story of brotherly love and strength and how Nick is now on is way to his £3,000 target he is raising for Uk Acquired Brain Injury Forum.. please help by visiting the post and resharing.. thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on kyrosmagica and commented:
    Something that you just don’t want to happen but sadly does. A beautifully written but tragic account of the events. Sue Vincent’s son sounds like an incredible young man, a reblog to support him in his goal – the Para-Tri triathlon in Windsor Sunday 9th August.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. blondieaka says:

    Reblogged and commented about the strength and power of brotherly love in the face of such tragic circumstances and if you can read from beginning to end with dry eyes then………

    Liked by 1 person

  11. blondieaka says:

    Reblogged this on Retired? No one told me! and commented:
    Please read and donate if you can, it is a tale about brotherly love in the face of tragedy and if you can read to the end and stay dry eyed then well……….

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I shared on Facebook and Twitter supporting Nick in his amazing journeys and Alex what a wonderful brother! My heart goes to you too Sue I have one daughter your son story touched my heart much love to you Sue 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ali Isaac says:

    I have 2 sons very close in age, too, and whilst they are so very different in looks and personality and attitude, whilst they pretend they don’t care about each other, underneath it all they are such good friends. I hope as they grow up, its something they will embrace, as your boys have. It seems to me that both Nick and Alex are sons you can be immensely proud of, and I can see that you are a close family. Sometimes tragedy can force people apart, but I see your family is made of stronger stuff, and it has brought you even closer together. Lots of love to you all. Xxx

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Some of the family fell apart and away, the pressure of a changed lifestyle too much to handle. My sons have always been close and although Nick’s story is the one that catches the eye, Alex’s journey has been hard in other ways. Neither are fully healed, though I have seen that same glow of love in Alex’s eyes as he looks at his baby daughter. xxx

      Like

  14. Reblogged this on Barrow Blogs: and commented:
    Every donation – however tiny – will tell those who cared and looked after this young man, that their work is valued.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. stevetanham says:

    Reblogged this on stevetanham and commented:
    Three lives, caught up in a journey where they only had each other . . . and some friends like you . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  16. olganm says:

    You have two fantastic sons, Sue. Sharing. Love to all your family, Sue.

    Like

  17. Reblogged this on Alison Williams Writing and commented:
    Please read and donate if you can – every donation will help. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You are so right, Sue, that there is always more than one victim. This post touched a nerve for me, as a survivor of a brother’s death. I’m so glad that Alex has Nick and the other way around. The image of Alex at Nick’s bedside is raw and touching. Love is a powerful force.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      The clichéd ripples spread wide and the scars remain, some too deep to ever completely heal. You know that all too well, Diana. Watching the two of them, in that little golden place around the bed, that won’t fade either. x

      Liked by 1 person

  19. ksbeth says:

    what an amazing story this is and i feel privileged to be following your amazing sons and their journey

    Like

  20. You are truly blessed with two wonderful sons, as they are blessed to have you. They have such strength and courage. I was deeply moved by this post, and by, not only your love, but Alex’s love for his brother. It’s precious. I wish Nick the best of luck on Sunday 😀

    Like

  21. Laura says:

    Reblogged this on Ramblings of the Claury and commented:
    The strength of a sibling! Please reblog – let’s help Nick reach his target for this very worthy cause.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Eliza Waters says:

    It was nice to read a bit about Alex. They both are amazing men – you did well in raising them, Sue. 🙂

    Like

  23. Reblogged this on writerchristophfischer and commented:
    In a few days Nick is riding in the Para-Tri triathlon, to raise awareness and also funds for the UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum, a place that provides information to those who face the trauma of a dramatically altered life. A great cause. Best of luck! Details how to donate are at the end of the post https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/uk-acquired-brain-injury-forum#/story

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Saya says:

    Reblogged this on Saya..D..Poet.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. jenanita01 says:

    Incredible story of love and courage… so emotional I cannot speak…

    Like

  26. What a touching story, no wonder you are so proud of both of your sons Sue. They are both so incredibly strong in their own ways, and the love Alex showed to his brother throughout his recovery melts my heart.

    Like

  27. Never underestimate the power of a smile. Good luck in the Para-Tri triathlon and in everything else your life brings. Keep smiling 😊

    Like

  28. Reblogged this on Stuart France and commented:
    Tee minus Four days and counting…

    Liked by 1 person

  29. hugheswrites says:

    Reblogged this on In My Mind, This Is All Connected and commented:
    Sometimes words fail us. This is one of those times.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. You know, the story of your boys makes me smile and teary at the same time…

    My prayers will be there for them, always… 🙂

    Like

  31. Annie B says:

    Reblogged this on Surrendering My Shield and commented:
    A must post for me this evening. A story very near and dear to my heart. Let’s make this young man’s goal, shall we?

    Like

  32. Pingback: When a smile breaks your heart | williamleeone

  33. I have en elder brother and this made me cry, for this is one of my worst fears
    Your sons are brave for i can’t do what they did and i hope no mother, brother or father has to do.
    My well wishes are all i can offer

    Like

  34. Two amazing brothers who have one amazing mum. I had a lump in my throat while reading this Sue. I never knew much about Alex but, now that I do, he’s as incredible as Nick. Just by reading this post (and talking to you on Saturday) I can see how how very proud you are of them both. Nick and Alex – Please, never stop smiling for your mum.

    Like

  35. Reblogged this on ckbooksblog and commented:
    Take a read.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. vronlacroix says:

    I suspect that we often underestimate the love between siblings, assuming their rivalry outplays their affection. I know this is not true, have witnessed it myself, with my daughters and here in your story of love and giving. So sorry you all had to go through this, yet seeing the positive experience too.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      It has been a positive and life affirming journey, once we had managed to get beyond the initial shock… but not one I would wish to repeat. There never really seemed to be much rivalry beteen my two… the younger always looked up to his big brother and the pair of them got in equal amounts of mischief.

      Like

  37. paulandruss says:

    Thank you for sharing, Sue

    Like

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