You’ve got a friend

I couldn’t listen to Carole King for a long, long time. It was Nick’s (my brother’s) music, and hearing it took me back to a hard time of hurt, and pain, and misunderstanding. But two events recently made me realise that it didn’t hurt any more. I don’t think I’ll ever forget those dark days, but I can talk about it now without it tearing out my soul.


A couple of weeks ago Niall and I were down south with my folks. As we drove through Southampton to visit the Solent Sky Museum, I realised we’d be travelling over the Itchen Bridge, and I said nothing to my parents.


Then last week I came downstairs to find a card from Kevin with these words on it:

carole king


Lovely words – from one friend to another. And they didn’t hurt, and that made me smile even more.


(Trigger Warning  – suicide attempts)

In 1995 I was studying for my philosophy finals. I was living in a small and chaotic house with my friend Jeremy, his girlfriend (our landlady) Sonia, some hockey playing lass whose name I forget, and Nick. Nick’s marriage had broken down and he’d come over to Southampton to do a degree in Maths. We ate a lot, drank a lot, argued a lot (Nick and Jeremy in particular banged heads about philosophy), smoked a lot and were generally students. We were happy, or so we thought.


Jeremy and I walked home from Uni, chatting about stuff. Sonia met us at the front door, white faced. Nick had attempted an overdose and she’d found him. He was alive, out of (physical) danger, in hospital.


As I sat in Nick’s room the next day, picking up the empty pill packets and vodka bottles, I flicked on his CD player:

Tonight you’re mine completely
You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
But will you love me tomorrow

Shit. Shit. Shit. I didn’t know. I had no clue. I was a crap sister. My brother was hurting and I hadn’t realised how much.


We patched him, up, somehow. He tried again twice more – another attempted overdose next, then a jump off the Itchen Bridge.


While we were down south Niall and I helped mum to put up some of her pictures in her and dad’s new house. On the sideboard was one of Nick and Helen’s wedding photos. Helen is laughing so hard and Nick looks … happy. His second marriage is a happy one. My brother is happy. I realise I don’t worry about him now.


I spent a while worrying that Nick might try and kill himself again, and then a long time realising that there was nothing anyone could do to help. But I don’t think he will, not now. Not with that lovely orange vest to wear.


And, as I wrote this, I’ve been listening to Carole King – without crying.

Pic of Nick with his wife Helen, their daughter Bron and his son Luke in front of their Big Red Bus Bar earlier this month.

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7 Responses to You’ve got a friend

  1. laughing is good. good to see them laughing on the pictures.

    Any song by Carol King in particular you were listening to?
    I’d google it on YouTube.

    This morning I was listening to some song by Rush on my headphones at work (to not hear the HAMMER TYPING by my dear new colleague) and read in one of the reaction that listening to that song actually made some person NOT try to kill himself.

    Songs / music can be so powerful. Let’s use it for the good things.

  2. thank you so much for sharing Sarah – can;t imagine what it was like to go through – and I’m really really pleased that you and Nick came out the other side! S xx

  3. scottx5 says:

    Great posting. Getting past the hurt can be really hard. It takes on a life of its own that has nothing to do with any person or particular cause, just an unpleasant companion that blocks us moving forward.
    Like the line in this song: “You were never the same way twice,”
    Blue Rodeo – “Try” [Official Video]

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