“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
It’s 7am and I lie wide awake in the home of a lady I only met a few hours ago. She is – I am proud to say – a friend. Tamsyn and I struck up an on-line friendship a couple of years ago. She has 4 children with the love of her life: Alex.
We have spent the night at a ball to raise funds for Alex’s rehabilitation. Tamsyn was told he would probably die: he didn’t. She was told he would not wake from his coma: he did. She was told he wouldn’t talk or walk again: I watched him dance in the arms of his wife just a few hours ago. I talked to him at his home, where he belongs full-time, and we understood each other just fine.
But he has so far to go . . .
How could we not try with all our hearts and souls and every spare penny to see what else he can do? To see how bravely this man can keep defying expectations? How could we not try to make some waves for Alex? To be part of watching a family blown apart, slowly and tenaciously build themselves back up and show the world what the real meaning of strength and love is?
It could happen to any of us.
So here I lie, wide awake in the home of friends I finally met just a few hours ago. We have talked for hours, and now there is only me awake. It was an amazing night – full of laughter, hope, tears, dancing and inspiration. (Alex and Tamsyn have smiled more tonight than some couples I know will probably smile in their entire marriage.) Nearly 12 thousand pounds has been raised. Amazing. But as I tap away at this post on my phone – unsure of whether or not I’ll ever share it – I can hear Alex’s voice from his bed calling out, and his carer gently talking, and I silently cry.
Because it’s just so fucking unfair.
My husband lies next to me. Usually when I can’t sleep, it irritates me – albeit completely unreasonably – that he can sleep so soundly. Not tonight. Tonight I feel deeply grateful that I can lie by the man I love every night. That any time I want, I can reach out and touch him.
And I want the same for my friend.
Later today I will head back to Bolton, and back to my usual life. A life that doesn’t involve fights with the benefit system and bringing up four children without the help of my partner. A life without neuro re-education, wheelchair ramps and the worry of where to live.
My path has not been an easy one, but I have never felt so very, very thankful for my family and our health.
Please: Share Alex and Tamsyn’s story. Watch this short video to meet them properly - it was shown at the ball. I didn’t watch it then. I looked around the room instead and saw the love and tears in every single pair of eyes fixed on the glow of the screen. Mostly strangers to each other, but united in grief for what this family have gone through, and hope for what they can now go onto achieve.
Thank you Tamsyn, for letting us be a part of it.