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

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

h2 Recruit Ltd: Graduate Consultant - Sales Recruitment - £40,000+ OTE

£20000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you an ambitious and...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Senior Consultant - Sales Recruitment - £50,000+ OTE

£20000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Have you got a track rec...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Executive - Ceiling and Flooring - £26,000 OTE

£26000 per annum + pension + career progression: h2 Recruit Ltd: An excellent ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - Credit Reports - £100,000 OTE

£50000 - £100000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

David Cameron’s immigration speech: I broke my promise; this time will be different

John Rentoul
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game  

Manchester was ahead of the pack in honouring Alan Turing

Simon Kelner
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game