Starting small…

“…grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”

Alert and tense, ready for any stumble, I watched him cross the living room, slowly, painstakingly, supported by the walking frame. He does it every day, and so do I. Being so accustomed to the situation we simply accept the ‘what is’.  The ‘what was’ and ‘what should have beens’ do not register… they have no place in the moment. Over the past nine years we have learned to accept and deal with the demands of ever-present reality.

For a moment, I marvelled at the adaptability of the human spirit, that can accept the changes wrought by the most extreme events and learn to encompass an altered reality and the consequences it brings in its wake.

And yet, today was different. Perhaps the news that his attacker has just been sent to prison again that had dredged up old emotions. I don’t know. From out of nowhere a sudden grief, as vicious as it was unexpected, tore me out of acceptance, conjuring a memory of the tall businessman who strode with the unconscious assurance of youth. The pain, as overwhelming, for a moment, as it was during those first days after the attack, robbed me of coherent thought, leaving behind the taste of blood and a senseless litany. This is my son. It shouldn’t be like this. It will always be like this.

I dragged myself back to the moment. Busied myself for the rest of the day. It serves no purpose to indulge in ‘what ifs’ or to rail against Fate. I know that there is purpose in everything, something to be learned, turned to good, light to discover and understand… and we have found plenty of that over the years.

It was not until darkness fell that the tears finally came.

“…courage to change the things I can…”

For years, my son sought to reverse the damage done by the brain injury, working for hours on end, day after day, targeting the individual problems he contends with… mobility, sight, speech, balance, dexterity and memory. Throughout the early years, it was his only focus.

A relentless, determined refusal to accept the level of disability he had been left with made every day a battle against impossible odds and each miniscule improvement a major victory. He refused to believe he could never ‘be himself’ again… the person he used to be, the person he knew.

That determination led him to do great things, for himself and for others. Some of it deliberate… some of it simply because people found inspiration in his attitude. Despite the progress he made and the bravado with which he faced the world, he could not wholly heal himself, neither physically nor emotionally. His idea of ‘being himself’ had to change… and that required a different approach and a new acceptance.

“…and wisdom to know the difference.”

It started with a journey. He deliberately took himself out of his comfort zone, challenging himself to go out into the world as he is, not as he would like to be. That probably took more courage than anything else he has done before and taught him a good deal about himself. It is an ongoing process, but his focus has shifted from trying to regain what he felt he had lost, to embracing who he is. It does not mean that he has given up on trying to improve his abilities… but he need no longer wholly define himself by them.

Wisdom starts small. It begins with a shift in perspective. It does not come with a fanfare, but creeps in quietly. It is often the darkest events in our lives that teach us the most, and it is they for which we may, one day, find ourselves the most grateful. We may wish they had never needed to occur, just as I wish my son had not been the victim of senseless violence, but there may come a moment when you realise that the things you have most needed to learn may be taught through the things you have least wished to experience. Such events can be turned to good, giving us a better understanding, not only of ourselves, but of the experience of others, and, if nothing else, can allow us to reach out with true empathy, not sympathy, when there is need.

There is a theory that every moment is a crossroads and every choice leads to a new reality in some parallel universe. Perhaps, in some divergent corner of the multiverse, a mother watched her son stride, tall and straight, with the unconscious ease of youth across his room this morning. If so, it was not me. My reality is here and now, and although, for a moment, I grieved for my son, that grief did not last.

Sometimes exasperating, often annoying, insulting and demanding, sometimes kind, funny and generous… We clash, we laugh, we argue… he is, after all, a son. It shouldn’t be like this. It will always be like this…because he is still here and human and himself. And so am I.

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:
This entry was posted in Brain injury, family, Grief and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

74 Responses to Starting small…

  1. Oh gosh, my heart goes out to you and your boy…my eyes teared up, reading. Bad things happen to good people, and I never get past the injustice of that–so it pushes me deeper into my faith…God promises to vindicate us, and I’ve no doubt He keeps His Word.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. barbtaub says:

    “the things you have most needed to learn may be taught through the things you have least wished to experience.” I cried. Of course I did. And I smiled, and I nodded my head, but mostly I was lost in admiration for the hope and grace and love that you and Nick bring to life. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sue, I am inspired by your son’s determination and your strength to see him through whatever it is he’s facing. How dare anyone take from another in such a cruel and meaningless way! Bless you both. You are two amazing human beings. ❤️ And I hope the jerk (I really wanted to call him something else) stays behind bars this time!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Starting small… — Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo | O LADO ESCURO DA LUA

  5. Wonderful post Sue. You are both amazing.


  6. jenanita01 says:

    We wish you and Nick all the love in the world, Sue… Love pulled you through the first time and love will pull you through again…


  7. I don’t have words graceful enough to let you know how this was received by my heart.


  8. I took time to read one thing this morning before rising to start my day, my week. It was this post. Thank you for this powerful wisdom.


  9. Mary Smith says:

    Like Barb, I smiled and nodded through my tears as I read this post. Thank you for sharing something so intensely personal but which touches all of us who reads it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jennie says:

    Brilliant, Sue. How you dissected the lines in the quote to tell your story was perfect. You are strong and wise!


  11. rivrvlogr says:

    I can imagine, but I cannot.
    And I think that is what you, yourself, have decided. Looking back goes nowhere. Now and forward are what matter.


  12. Darlene says:

    A very special post, Sue. Valuable for us to read and most likely, valuable for you to write. Like everyone else, I smiled through my tears as I read it. The serenity prayer is perfect.


  13. Your son is an inspiration, Sue. He has overcome tremendous problems and it sounds like he lives a good life now. It is impossible to have regrets over what might have been, it is like looking back over your life and trying to decide which choices long ago made you would change if given a second chance. Changing the past would also change the present.


  14. memadtwo says:

    Thanks for your insight Sue. The courage to be who you are is hard for all of us. I admire both of you for embracing this journey that arrived unwanted and unsought. (K)


  15. Eliza Waters says:

    Such a road it has been. Not surprising that grief comes in like a tide every so often. The heart needs the release. I think both of you are inspiring and what you share here sends ripples of wisdom out into the world. Thank you, Sue.


  16. dgkaye says:

    It’s clear where Nick gets his strength and determination from Sue. ❤ And it's so true, even when we overcome adversity that painful place remains hidden in our hearts. I was also taken aback when you said the criminal went to jail AGAIN. What the hell was he even let out for. Leopards don't change their spots! ❤ xx


  17. Widdershins says:

    Old wounds tug at our memories and hearts at the most unexpected times and from the most unexpected places … then they tuck themselves back where they belong. 🙂


  18. I saved this for a few days because I needed to have the time to read it completely. Wasn’t going to just skim.

    He has been an amazing story. Taking the nightmare and making it a miracle. A bit by bit miracle. Not an overnight special, but one done with endless determination to be better. You must be very proud of each other because you have been there every day, all the way. Together.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      You would never get him to commit that to writing 😉 Although, no…. he did once, as I recall. It has been a long road…and, like all roads, every destination we reach leads to another.


  19. willowdot21 says:

    Reblogged this on willowdot21 and commented:
    A lesson for us all in love and strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. willowdot21 says:

    Forgive me Sue if I have already sent this reply but I think I lost it in the magic of internet land. So at the risk of repeating myself.

    Everyone has said all there is to say but I wanted to add what wonderful lessons you and Nick teach us daily. You make us laugh and cry with your account of how your two lives pan out, separate and together. You both show us how amazingly brave and doggidly you both move forward as you say reaching one goal to the next.
    Reading the comments and your replies you have taught us the importance of forgiveness and generosity of your spirit. You said in one reply “But he is just another troubled young man. We don’t know all his story and therefore cannot judge. I feel for his mother though.” You must of at some point railed at or wanted to punish this “troubled young man” I would it’s a mother thing, isn’t it?
    I think what I am trying to say is I agree that the journey is what makes us not the destination, the destination can be changed at anytime. The point is you have eachother, you are both where you are and because of who you are that is a good thing.
    Your journey has taught me so much thank you 💜🌹


  21. You are an inspirational family. Strong, creative and generous with it.


  22. Hi I didnt want to just read and run, not sure what to say but I think you are both incredibly strong and have written this so well, it has really moved me.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. noelleg44 says:

    He is your son and your hero; you are his mother and you are his.
    Look at all the things he has accomplished, not the least of which is being such an inspiration to others who struggle with the changing and the acceptance.


  24. Thank you for this inspirational post, Sue. Among so many beautiful lines in your post this one stuck with me: but there may come a moment when you realise that the things you have most needed to learn may be taught through the things you have least wished to experience.
    Perhaps because your post is filled with so much courage and love my mind wandered to a Beatles song: Love is All You Need.


  25. Truly amazing and mind blowing,the Lord is watching over you both, appreciate you going here, because some people might bottle up, however thank you, uplifting thoughts and ☮️


  26. Hi Sue, Finally cleared out my mailbox of some 5,000+ e-mails, and wondered what universe I have been in. This is 724 of all the e-mails I saved to read and answer by you, Stuart and Steve. I feel so privileged that this is the first one I have come across since I have worked with you and am trying to make my way back out of the woods again. It could not have been more perfect.

    I have written to you a number of times about Nick and your experiences with what the two of you have experienced. It is interesting that I have always stated that if we never had any challenges in this life, we could not grow and also we would never learn true compassion for others, or the ability to impart wisdom to them at times when it is needed.

    I was thinking of the man who assaulted Nick, and about his life, and so I hope what I write won’t upset anyone, but as you know, I have been a tutor for illiterate adults and juvenile delinquents as part of my overall work for many years, and the thing I discovered about these people is that most all of them have had little or no standard childhoods – no holidays celebrates, generally parents with little education and a lot of them involved with drugs, etc. And so a world of criminal and bullying behavior begins. Of all the ones I tutored and worked with, they would go into rage over the seemingly smallest of things, like a broken zipper on a jacket. For the illiterate ones, many of those had never learned to read, even some that had been through jr. college. The teachers just kept putting them forward so that they would not have to deal with them. Too much emphasis from the schools on teacher’s success with children who are already making progress. Teachers are definitely not equipped here in the U.S. to deal with those who have behavioral issues. That is why we have paraeducators and class aides, both of which I have done, along with teaching, never as a permanent because I thought it more important to spend time with the children than in endless meetings, etc.

    So while this man is now obviously a career criminal, we have to remember that at one time, he was an innocent baby or toddler, and who knows how early his own suffering began. Children do not turn into career criminals without influence from the outside. Does that mean we should forgive them for the evil they do? The universe has a lot of strange qualities, and even within our own personalities, there are the nine personas that at any time can become the one that does all the things that can often not be reversed. Does that mean we should forgive them any more than the two men we read about who created havoc in that long-ago world where the Gods and Men and animals intertwined in strange ways that forever altered the universe?

    I honestly don’t know, and I DO have empathy for anyone who suffers at the hands of those who create havoc and damage to young men, but at the


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