A photograph…

Looking for photographs, I opened a folder on the computer. The first image I came across had me unexpectedly in tears. I have seen it hundreds of times and simply smiled, if a little wistfully. Yet this time, for some reason, it opened the floodgates.

It is a very ordinary photo of two very young men one spring afternoon. But the young men are not ordinary, they are my sons. Beside them are Nick’s souped-up VW and Alex’s bike… their respective wheels. It was an ordinary spring day… Nick had driven up from Bournemouth to spend the weekend with us. We had talked, laughed and talked some more. It had been a good weekend for a lot of reasons.

I had grabbed the opportunity to get a picture of the lads while I had them both there… a rarity now they were grown. Nick came up again a few weeks later and spent the weekend. We talked through the night, out on the deck, ironing out the inevitable wrinkles in a relationship by then 25 years old. I recall standing on the doorstep as he was leaving. We are not a demonstrative family on the whole; our terms of endearment generally take the form of light-hearted insults that can horrify the uninitiated… and I did something unusual… I told him I loved him.

I was to remember that a couple of weeks later.

The photograph is the last taken of my sons before Nick was attacked; the weekend where we talked the night through was the last that my son walked away from me to his car and smiled as he drove off. Before the world changed for our little family. The next time I saw him he was lying in a coma attached to machines that were keeping him alive… though for how long we did not know. Alex and I at his bedside, holding each other up. The police already treating the attack as murder.

I told him loved him that day too. But he couldn’t hear me anymore.

Seeing that photograph always brings a wistful smile. Tonight it brought tears. These things heal, but the scars remain and can ache sometimes, creeping up on you when you are least expecting it. It is always the small things that trigger the emotions. Thankfully the dog is pretty good about being used as a handkerchief.

Today I spent several hours with my son, then more on the phone which, as he points out, is something of a miracle. Love was expressed in different terms, far less obvious to an observer, perhaps, but clear enough for us. It doesn’t have to be spoken, it simply has to be lived.

There are times when those few small words can mean the world, spoken or heard; times when they can make all the difference. Much of the time, however, they are misused, sometimes abused, used to say things for which they were never meant. They can be the sticking plaster over a wounded relationship or the weapon that causes the wound. They can express need, want and ownership rather than love. They can be the ultimate double-egded sword that can control… or set free.

There are so many forms of love, from friendship to worship… so many differing relationships that have to use those words, and the verb has been appropriated for many lesser, commonplace uses… as well as to express the very essence of the Divine. It is not surprising that we cannot really define the word ‘love’, only know what we mean by it in our heart of hearts when it touches our lives.

Yet one thing is certain, to love is a verb… a doing word. Something to be lived, not simply said. When you live it, you feel and know it. When you give it, others feel and know it. When it is given, words no longer matter. They do not need to be heard or said. Three little words that can change a world; words we will never regret withholding if we do not mean them, but may wish we had expressed when we mean them from the depths of the heart.

On that spring day I followed the promptings of my heart and said three words to my son. The heart is wiser than the mind in such moments. He walked away from me for a last time, head held high, with that almost arrogant stride and I watched him go. It was a long, gut-wrenching time before we knew he would come back to us. I was glad he left with those words in his heart that day.

April 09 nick and Alex

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.
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78 Responses to A photograph…

  1. Deeply moving, heart wrenching. Exquisite in its raw honesty. Beaitiful.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Suzanne says:

    Your story made my hair stand on end. How wonderful you spoke your love when you did and what a miracle that your son returned to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ritu says:

    Oh Sue this is so touching . It’s amazing what can trigger these emotions. I can only imagine what you want through and the feelings you must still get xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Militant Negro says:

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.


  5. besonian says:

    Beautiful, Sue. There is a depth in what you say. And I don’t know if you’ve ever felt this way – but when things of that profound import happen in one’s life – and I’ve had two or three – although you can look back and wish things had been otherwise, they can nevertheless, open your heart to something deeper, something for which there are no adequate words. Maybe that ‘something’ is a love which is beyond the personal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Yes, Jeff, I do know what you mean. ‘Otherwise’ might have been easier, but we would not be where we are without the journey we have taken to get here. Even, or perhaps especially, the challenging times are gifts.


  6. Reblogged this on ladyleemanila and commented:
    Sue and her sons 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ksbeth says:

    i am so glad that you came across this, a photo is a story ,and the story of you and your sons is incredible. i am so happy that he came back to you, and you are so right about the many forms of love and its power. beautiful piece.


  8. It’s bravery, honesty and love that shine through in this post, Sue. Thanks for showing us how it’s done 🙂


  9. jenanita01 says:

    A painful reminder of the meaning and power of love…


  10. Mary Smith says:

    I’m keeping out of the blogosphere for a couple of weeks but for some reason clicked on this one. It’s such a beautiful, emotional, powerful post. Thanks for sharing it with us.


  11. A wonderful post Sue, even more wonderful as Nick was returned to you. He is a wonder in himself for his achievements.
    After my dad died, I felt remorse for not following an instinct to return to him and tell him I loved him that final Wednesday. Since then I told my Mum I loved her when I saw her, holding her tight not wanting to let go. I told her when I wrote to her and when I spoke to her on the phone. I say the same to Bro in letters, emails, phone calls or via Skype. I tell Hubby I love him every day. Three words, but they mean the world, and come from the heart.


  12. Darlene says:

    The love between a mother and son is incredibly strong and it is no doubt the power of that love helped bring your son back to you. I have seen this happen a few times. It is amazing that our heart knows when to say the right words. Words that were there throughout his ordeal and kept you going as well. I made my 19-year-old brother a nice meal, we went for a long walk and had a great conversation the night before he was killed in an industrial accident. This was 43 years ago and I hold these memories dear. A wonderful picture, good looking boys.


  13. Love is brilliant. So is this post.


  14. memadtwo says:

    The heart knows. (K)


  15. Such a powerful post Sue. I am so glad you were able to share those words with Nick before and after his attack.


  16. trentpmcd says:

    Definitely a picture worth more than a thousand words, and feelings. A very moving post.


  17. rivrvlogr says:

    As others have said, Sue. This is very moving. Your love for Nick (for both of your sons, actually) is quite clear here, and never to be doubted.


  18. This is such a touching and heart wrenching story, dear Sue. ❤


  19. Gosh, Now, where did I leave my tissues, Sue. I adore your posts about the tender poignancy of love. They always get me right in the heart. ❤


  20. noelleg44 says:

    Sad, poignant, and I’m so glad of the miracle yet to come. We do love our sons!


  21. Widdershins says:

    Heh, that photo. They look like a couple of lads looking for trouble don’t they? 😀 … and trying to hide it from their mum. What a wonderful gift Nick’s return was, and is. 😀


  22. I’m glad that’s what you said, too. I have learned that it is never the wrong thing to say. Any time, anywhere. Those are always the three right words.


  23. dgkaye says:

    Straight to the heart story Sue. You took me right into your love for your family. Yes, love is definitely a verb ❤ And I loved this line "It doesn’t have to be spoken, it simply has to be lived." ❤ xx


  24. Eliza Waters says:

    You define the depths of a mother’s love, Sue. It comes through with gentle strength, such a beautiful thing. ❤


  25. willowdot21 says:

    Reblogged this on willowdot21 and commented:
    If you read nothing else today please read this truly love filled post. It holds a lesson for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. willowdot21 says:

    This is beautiful Sue because it is true and cones from the heart and your wisdom is a guide to us all if we listen.💜💜


  27. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    A post from Sue Vincent which holds a lesson for life and a message about making sure we do think about the little things and don’t leave words unsaid. As Sue says, ‘to love is a verb’… and should be doing acts of love everyday…..

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Jennie says:

    This pulls at the most tender of feelings. Deeply moving.


  29. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    A story of love.


  30. Such a touching story, Sue. God bless you all.


  31. jilldennison says:

    “Love doesn’t have to be spoken. It simply has to be lived.” Truer words were never spoken. Beautiful, haunting, heartfelt post. Hugs.


  32. How amazingly you have expressed you ideas. Tremendous work! Love your writing style.

    I recently wrote something on an Old Photograph. I would love your feedback on it at https://iamgayatriblog.wordpress.com


  33. This brought a tear to my eyes, Sue. We never know how or when our lives will change forever.


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