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Deborah Parkinson: "I Feel Very Lucky"

For those of you who don’t know me that well, I don’t do social media.

I'm not a big fan, but I know it’s the future and it’s very powerful, but along with Gary we are a bit old school and we like to stay private and I'm a believer that if something needs saying, then face to face eye contact is still the best.

How ironic is that now, that Gary's only way of communicating is through his eyes, with no voice.

Anyway, like I say it’s unusual to see me on this platform and I am not sure that it will even make sense to you all.

I understand there is a certain language to this platform like 'hashtag' this and 'hashtag' that, but I will just speak from my heart with no fancy bits.

I want to share my gratitude to many of you out there and it seems we have many more friends, spread near and far, than we ever thought and so here was probably the best place to do this. Life changed in so many ways for me back in 2010 when my husband was faced with the biggest battle of his life.

However, what didn't change that September day was the unconditional love felt for a man I had grown up with and married and then gone on to have three children together making our family complete (for now anyway, wedding no 1 next year).

There was no question that this battle Gary faced was going to be shared with me, "two shoulders are better than one" as they say and "it takes two" is another.

Isn’t that what marriage is all about I say? It is to me.

Along this battle, I could not have done this with out the amazing, never ending support that my family, friends and ever wider community with our football family.

This support just seems to keeps coming, which is incredible almost nine years on, especially when I know how life can be cruel and other families are struck with bigger blows than ours.

I am very grateful for what I do have.

This support really does mean the world to me, and each and every time there is an event it’s the next day when I sit and reflect, which I always do sometimes at 2/3am, I will reflect on things.

When I do this I keep seeing the same things. Love, family, friends, strength, community and communication.

All of this was seen most recently as this weekend when Luke, our son, organised what we first thought was a bit of a kick around with some old school mates on a semi-decent pitch for a bit of a reunion and maybe raise a bit of money for a hydro therapy session for Gary.

What followed was just beyond what any of us thought and on Saturday, under the scorching Bolton sun, that community umbrella opened up and gathered us all together at CMB Football Club, Lostock and as I looked round there were parents from school who I spent many hours on the playgrounds with, at school discos and family nights, and generally chitchatting.

There were ex-head teachers, head of years, as well as neighbours old and new, who again are all part of this lovely community I am proud to call HOME.

Luke, you did an amazing job of bringing it all together and both me and Dad cannot thank you enough or be any more prouder Luke, so well organised and you made us feel very proud.

Something else you don’t often see me do is praise our three children to others.

We are a private family and share this in our own home but they have shown unbelievable character in their strength to keep going in adversity. This I know they get from Gary and again it’s that tight family bond that is unconditional.

I just want to thank everyone of you, not just for this weekend, but for the last nine years of your friendship, kindness, generosity, not just a big events, but those little touches like food and gifts left on the doorstep when a neighbour knows your feeling low to the coffee shop chats with close friends to let me cry and smile again without judging.

They really do mean the world and keep me going in the tough days.

I am forever grateful. Each penny and each pound adds to a better quality of life for Gary.

I feel very very lucky to be able to call you friends and family.

Keep believing and be grateful. Life is worth living.

Let’s keep spreading the word about locked-in syndrome and who knows one day. I believe.

Deborah x