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.
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 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.
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.