Imploding reality

My son, who is now thirty-three, celebrates his eighth re-birthday today.

On July 4th, 2009, normality imploded.

‘We have your son’… four words changed the world for me. It had changed for my son some hours earlier. I had been in blissful ignorance until the phone rang and the voice said, ‘We have your son.’

The world changed beyond recognition.

I have tried, many times, to speak or to write in some way that captures even a shadow of the blank horror of that day. Words fail. To say that my heart, mind and body screamed for days sounds melodramatic… to say that, at the same time, there was an eye of untouchable, unreachable calm within the scream sounds impossible… Sanity, I think, was only protected by the impossibility of it all. Yet we had to move through each moment, facing those impossibilities head on.

To see a child, one you have grown beneath your heart, so close to death, is every parent’s nightmare. To see a child being torn asunder by terror and grief rends the heart. You are powerless, impotent…. you can change nothing. From this moment onwards, no matter what happens, your family will be held hostage by scars of violence that will never fully heal. There can be no going back to what you knew as normality.

Yet, in spite of the horror, we move through the days. Time shapes a new vision of normality which, though it may be different from the one you once imagined, may yet be beautiful…and some things do not change.

In October 2009, three months after the attack, I wrote:

“The ripples from this have spread very wide. Friends, even miles away, have been through the journey with us, suffering the horror, shock, hope and disbelief. Values have been questioned, lives reassessed. In many ways this has been a devastating event. My youngest son has been very hard hit, family and relationships have been put under strain. Even the financial problems caused by lost time at work and excessive amounts of petrol are a major concern. Not so much for the money itself, but the constant, daily struggle and sacrifices, minor and major, we have all had to make to keep us going.

And yet.. there has been so much good come from this also. The reassessment of all our lives has been positive, cutting loose much of the baggage we have clung to through habit, realising how little material possessions actually mean in face of a greater, truer reality. Young people sliding down a slippery path have pulled themselves up short in a way that parents have not been able to show them.

New friendships have been born and flourish, based on real emotion, not the makeshift ‘surfaces’ that many of us deal with day after day. Hearts that have been closed have been opened, faith has been questioned, born or reaffirmed.

The power of this single moment of madness to change lives is immense. The power of the concerted efforts of so many people and the faith that has not lost hope is humbling to see and to be touched by.

Twice now in my life I have watched my son take his first breath. The second time was no less a birth than the first and heralded a new beginning for so many of us. Twice I have held my own breath as I watched my son take his first steps.. the second time a moment of overwhelming joy and gratitude.

We wander through life, even those of us who think we live in awareness, taking so much for granted. Even though I am exhausted, there is so much joy in every moment now! Every dawn needs appreciating, every raindrop holds a rainbow, each silent moment holds a peace that is precious and laughter shared is a gift from the gods.

I would give anything to be able to change what happened, to protect my son from this terrible injury… yet, we are sent what we need, not what we want, and I can see so much good in this that I cannot help but be grateful that the Powers that Be are wiser than we.”

Now, eight years later, the ripples still spread in all directions. The mental and emotion damage, the invisible consequences of the attack, still cloud and mire the daily lives of many of the victims of this madness. For Nick was not the only victim of this attack. There is never only one victim. And healing does not mean it all goes away.

Something like this has consequences that reach out like fingers of frost, creeping quietly into the lives of all those who are touched by it. Not just Nick’s immediate family and friends, but also, I imagine, the family of the young man responsible for this. There is still pain, heartache and loss. Physical health has been damaged and compromised. The struggles do not abate on a practical level, treasured relationships have fractured and broken under the strain, sacrifices are still made daily. The future holds no certainties, no security and cannot be planned for.

Yet the consequences are not all negative and the ripples do not carry only pain. For me these years have been a time of self-discovery. The changes may not be visible to the naked eye, but they are real and have reshaped my knowledge of myself in unexpected ways. There are still moments when echoes of PTSD drag me back into the horror, but that was then, this is now… and the future is ours for the writing

The son who watched over his brother with such tenderness is now enslaved by another love… for a beautiful and mischievous blonde. I watch him still, though now I do so with a smile in my heart as I see him find joy in fatherhood.

For Nick, the past eight years have been a real and constant challenge against the injuries, seen and unseen, of a changed world. It has not been an easy road, but he has faced it with a determination to make it his own, learning to accept what could not be changed, yet refusing to accept the imposed limitations.  From the early days after the attack, he came to refer to its date as his re-birthday.

For a good while now, he has been drawing together the threads that were woven to shape a new vision… a new and powerful reality where the story is one of his own creating. Plans have been set in motion, and the world opens before him.

Whatever hand we are dealt by destiny, how we play our cards remains a choice we can all make for ourselves. I have a feeling the year will be one of adventure.

Happy re-birthday, Nick.

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 and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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99 Responses to Imploding reality

  1. Ritu says:

    Bless you Nick! Happy Rebirthday! My dad had his 12th rebirthday recently too! (Celebrates his post heart attack years!)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Life sure takes us to some very challenging places Sue. Happy Rebirthday Nick.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Toni Pike says:

    A beautiful and heart-wrenching article, Sue – wishing you and your family all the best.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Mary Smith says:

    Wishing Nick a very happy re-birthday and many more to come.
    Your granddaughter is gorgeous and looks very mischievous – like her grandmother!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. janmalique says:

    Reblogged this on strangegoingsonintheshed and commented:
    Tugs at your heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh, Happy Rebirthday, Nick, and to all of you in the family! 😀 All your posts about Nick have given me rebirth, Sue. After going through trauma after trauma. I’ve been able to face life with a new spirit and it is due in no small measure to reading about yours and Nick’s strength and determination to face life head-on. Bless you. By the way, I’ve discovered there is an interesting Neolithic stone on the Island – The Long Stone near the village of Mottistone. I await your visit! x

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wonderful soul ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wendy Janes says:

    Wishing Nick a very happy re-birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jennie says:

    I have no words for your beautiful post except thank you for your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post, Sue. Happy re-birthday to Nick and the whole family. I remember many of the photos from posts of those milestones and adventures, and it was fun to join in the growth and joy even if only by way of your blog. Enjoy the blessings of the day ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. willowdot21 says:

    Well done Nick you have come a long way on your journey. Happy Rebirth day! Well done Sue and Family you have come a long way too 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. memadtwo says:

    Happy Rebirth to all! And thanks for your always wise words. (K)


  13. Lyn Horner says:

    Your story and Nick’s inspire me. life is often difficult when one is disabled, but every little step forward is a victory. Thank you, Sue, for sharing.

    BTW, my son Dan was born on the 4th of July. It has always been a big day in our family.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Helen Jones says:

    Happy ReBirthday, Nick! And happy days to you all – what a storm you have had to weather. Sending love and good wishes xx

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Wow, what an amazing post. Happy rebirthday to Nick and best wishes to you all xx

    Liked by 1 person

  16. jenanita01 says:

    So many good wishes to Nick and all of your family, Sue. An inspiration and example for everyone…


  17. cindy knoke says:

    Happiest Day to all of you & loads of love too!


  18. Ali Isaac says:

    Nick has made amazing progress… such spirit and courage! In fact, reading his post about visiting China recently inspired me to face one of my own fears, only a very small and superficial one, but still, I don’t think I would have been able to do it if I hadn’t read his post first. And you are such an amazing mum. The things you have had to do for your child make you extraordinary. I know you will say you had no choice, that any mother would do the same, but that’s not strictly true. Lots of love. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  19. hsampson says:

    Wonderful Sue, Thank you and Happy Re-birthday to both!! It is always a pleasure to read your posts and Nick is a great Teacher for many of us as well!!!
    Thank you Universe for you both!


  20. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    A moving post from Sue Vincent… whose son Nick Verron was viciously attacked and left with life threatening and changing injuries. Most of us have been following Nick’s latest adventures in China and the rest of the world that is now his oyster due to his bravery and persistent drive to move forward and also the support and love of his family and friends. As Sue says… the impact of this event has sent ripples through the fabric of their lives but they have shown what amazing people they are.. #recommended

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Beautifully written as always, Sue. I continue to be amazed at how you are able to reach for the positive in events that would flood another with only negative thoughts. Not meaning to sound too “woo-woo” about it, I’m sure the vibration surrounding Nick as he stepped through phases of healing made it possible for his own resolve to remain firm.

    Happy re-Birth Day to Nick, to you, and to everyone who has accompanied you on this journey.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”


  22. Happy, happy birthday Nick. Sue, this is an amazing, amazing post but then you are an amazing lady. I know these words fall short on all I felt reading it. I just wanted to say that the courage and the love of your family shine through xxxx


  23. Happy Re-Birthday Nick. May you continue to be an inspiration to us all.


  24. Wishing Nick a Very Happy Re-Birthday Sue.. you have one remarkable Son there, a great inspiration to show the world to never give up and to love and live in each moment ..
    Sending LOVE..
    Sue ❤


  25. Such a moving post Sue, I can’t begin to imagine what you and your family have been through. Bless your courage and positivity and congratulations to Nick for being so courageous too. He is an inspiration and you must be very proud. Happy rebirthday to him. Xx


  26. Wishing for you all, new days of love and hope and especially happiness. A lovely post to make us all stop and think, Sue. Thank you. x


  27. Widdershins says:

    Happy Re-Birth Day, Nick. 😀


  28. dgkaye says:

    A painfully beautiful post and tribute to your son Sue. Happy re-Birthday Nick! ❤


  29. balroop2013 says:

    You are a wonderfully positive person Sue, your words really touched my heart. Wishing Happy re-birthday to Nick and much happiness. Stay blessed!


  30. Wishing you the joy of having your child with you still and Nick a happy re-birthday. I can only say as a mother who lost a child that you and Nick are truly blessed.


  31. Marcia says:

    Such a beautiful, uplifting and hopeful post, Sue. There is nothing quite like tragedy to open one’s eyes to the importance of living every minute to the fullest. Nick, and YOU, are both inspirations for those of us who walk through troubled times of one degree or another. I fervently believe we must never waste a moment we’ve been given, and we should always be looking ahead at the things we CAN do, and not looking back at those we can no longer accomplish. Your story always makes me remember this, and work harder at approaching life from the perspective of the days ahead and what I can do with them. I cherish the days gone by, but darn if I want to remain locked in them.

    And thank you, too, for sharing with such honesty. The truth comes through in your writing, Sue, and it serves as a reminder for all of us. Life is precious. Grab it with both hands!

    Blessings to Nick, your remarkable and inspiring boy, and to you, his dedicated and determined mother. And to the rest of your family and friends, as well, for their continued support and love. Just know that you have touched thousands, and that in doing so, you’ve made a difference for many of us.


  32. macjam47 says:

    Sue, this is a wonderful tribute to your son, and to you and your family for remaining a steadfast source of support and encouragement to Nick. Nick has amazed me since I first met him on your blog. His strength and determination are an inspiration to all. Happy Rebirth Day to Nick.


  33. paulandruss says:

    A deeply emotional and inspirational story Sue. Not ashamed to say it had me filling up at times. It makes you ashamed at what humanity does and then proud of what we as people achieve. Happy Re-birthday Nick


  34. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    Happy Re-birthday, Nick!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. A very happy re-birthday to Nick. I wish you both lots of love, happiness and many adventures to come! 💖💖


  36. olganm says:

    A very happy rebirthday to Nick and to all the family (and indeed to all of us for having him in our lives too). Big hugs and love, Sue!

    Liked by 1 person

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