In Sickness and in Health: From the friend in need, it’s au revoir to friends indeed

No one has the monopoly on things changing, forever, in an instant

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The Independent Online

Last year, Rebecca’s husband Nick was hit by a car and seriously injured. Here, in one of a series of columns,  she writes about the aftermath of his accident

Nick has a handful of phrases that he uses all the time. I do mean all the time, because if post-accident Nick thinks that something is worth saying, it’s worth saying 10 times a day. “Laughter is the best form of medicine” is one, and I heard it a lot yesterday after I found a video online of a cat being startled by a car horn and leaping two feet in the air.

Nick was laughing so hard that  he was crying and choking at the same time (the cat was pretty funny), and at one point it looked as though laughter might be the cause of his demise, rather than his recovery. “No pain, no gain” are words that I never thought I’d hear him say back when being hoisted into his wheelchair made him scream in discomfort and terror. Now, if he has to do something that he knows will hurt in physio, he uses this mantra to get him through. I’m so proud of him for developing this attitude – it’s one that can only serve him well on the painful path ahead, not least if he convinces me to let him get the tattoo that he craves.

“One door closes and another one opens” is a new addition to his lexicon, another philosophy that has bubbled back into his consciousness just when it’s needed. Change is in the air on a number of fronts, good and bad, and I’ve been repeating this almost as many times as Nick does.

One of the doors that’s closing belongs to our friends Samuel and David. They put me up every weekend for months when Nick was in hospital down the road from their house. They looked after me, fed me, hugged me and watched, no doubt agog, as I demolished more wine than I can remember. They welcomed Nick’s daughter and they kept me going with love, laughter (as a wise man once said, it’s the best form of medicine…) and sessions of binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. But in the past six months, their lives have changed beyond recognition thanks to family illness and job loss. I have spent hours trying to think of ways to help as they’ve contemplated selling up, moving countries and coping with caring for a loved one thousands of miles away.

It has been a timely reminder for me that no one has the monopoly on things changing, forever, in an instant. Over the past year and a half, I’ve semi-jokingly referred to myself as a tragic wife on occasion. I’m not, not any more. I’m a lucky, hopeful – if somewhat beleaguered – wife, not the weeping woman who turned up at intensive care 18 months ago.

Anyway, after soul-searching and endless discussion, Samuel and David have a brave new plan. They’re leaving the UK with regret, but also with a spring in their steps. I’ll miss them terribly, but they’re headed for Spain rather than further afield, thankfully. We had what may be our last supper in their current home this weekend, and while it wasn’t without sadness, there was hope and excitement in the air as we all shared our reconsidered futures. When their front door closes (and I hand back my treasured key), I will look forward to visiting their new home, with, one day I hope, Nick in tow. I can’t wait to go through that door.

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