In Sickness and In Health: The invisible support network that keeps me going

Earlier this 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

Share

I have been more lonely in the past five and a half months than the rest of my life put together. Earlier in the summer, on the night the World Cup kicked off, I felt my aloneness as a physical thing. But I sat with it, as if it were company.

Although I longed for someone beside me and although friends and family were only a phonecall away, I needed – need – to learn to fly solo and to not be afraid. Having said that, I have had so much fun with them in between the raging and weeping (sorry guys) I’ve done. I tell Nick all the time how much love there is being directed at him, about everyone who asks after him and tells me that he is in their prayers. If he can keep going after this accident that leaves him alone in a broken body in a hospital bed, I can jolly well learn sit on my own some evenings.

And while he lies there on his own and I sit here on my own, we are surrounded and supported, even when we don’t know it. When Nick started talking again, slowly, weirdly at first, then with purpose (never, ever have the words “You’re beautiful” meant so much, even if wags came out with the inevitable “You can tell Nick’s had a brain injury!” joshing), I had no idea how thrilled people I didn’t know would be; how much it would mean to me.

My friend Louisa, who I’ve worked with for years, told me the following story that showed the invisible web of good wishes woven around me and my husband. Louisa’s sister Charlotte is my cleaner. (She is also very good at singing songs to my cat, which means, of course, that she’s a wonderful person.) Louisa texted Charlotte to say that Nick was talking again. Charlotte then took the news to Jill, the person that she cleans for every fortnight once she’s finished tidying/cat serenading at my house. Jill has been getting regular updates, as Charlotte usually arrives at her place in poor spirits after being at my Nick-free flat. Jill (who I’ve never met) was so pleased to hear Nick is on the mend that when her daughter called her shortly afterwards, she exclaimed with delight that she’d had great news – a chap who’d been knocked down in Kentish Town was talking! “Mum, how on earth do you know Nick?” asked her daughter (who I’ve never met). Said daughter is the best friend of a very good friend of mine who’s married to another great pal who I used to work with. Confused? Fair enough. But I was impressed so many folk gave a damn. I also chuckled when my best friend called to tell me the story, too. (Charlotte also cleans for Sophie).

When I mentioned this network in the office, a colleague smiled knowingly. “Whenever I meet someone else Jewish,” he said, “we do that. We called it Jewish knitting – working out how our lives are interwoven through the people we know.” My version – north London knitting – has been a powerful antidote to loneliness. I might not always see the stitches that join people that I know and people that I don’t, but they’re there, part of a golden thread that connects bad times and good people.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Question time: Russell Brand interviewing Ed Miliband on his YouTube show  

Russell Brand's Labour endorsement is a stunning piece of hypocrisy

Lee Williams
IDF soldiers and vehicles in an image provided by campaign group Breaking the Silence  

'Any person you see – shoot to kill': The IDF doctrine which causes the death of innocent Palestinians

Ron Zaidel
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before