Saturday, January 30, 2016

Moving Forward

Five years out and you are still pushing the boundaries and moving forward.  

With Tami and Toliver at your side you are taking an on campus NOVA community college course on public speaking.  And you got 100% on your first assigned in class speech!  YAYY! While you are a natural on stage, this course demands a lot of focus, memory work, and discipline.  You are definitely up for the challenge! 

Class was canceled all week due to Snowzilla Jonas.  Which called for some shoveling & playtime in the snow:

We enjoyed being snowed in the first few days, but we sure did miss Austin (and Martin too)! Sharon Hallman took this beautiful photo a few weeks ago when Austin and Martin were home and we could still see grass! 

Once our roads were cleared you were back at Quest Global Management, where you work two hours a week under JP's amazing mentorship.  You're learning critical life and work skills in the marketing department, and having a blast interfacing with the team at QGM. 

A Place To Be continues to be a source of great inspiration, friendship, and community.   Last night you were able to attend Abby and Alice's fabulous recital with Gio and Shayna. 

After all the enormous hurdles you have overcome with endless grit and determination, it's wonderfully surreal knowing you are going to college, working at a job, and having a night out with friends. 

You teach  me something almost every day Champ.  Today I'm reminded,  "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars." N.V. Peale

Counting our blessings every day,
Mum & Team 44

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Five Years Out Today

Darlin' Forrest,

Five years ago today I got the call that changed the trajectory of your life and our family forever. My mother's heart clenches now just thinking of that moment.  At first the doctors told us to prepare ourselves for the likelihood that you would never wake up from the coma. When you did, they told us that most of a TBI patient's recovery is made in the first year.  When we brought you home from the hospital for the first time, on 12/21/11 almost a year after your snowboarding accident, you couldn't turn yourself over in bed, open your fists or your mouth, or utter one word.

So many earthly angels came to our aid, believed in you, and supported our family through endless dark and difficult months. We couldn't have made it without Austin's unconditional love, our extended family, faithful friends, APTB, and our incredible community.   And without Del Wilson's faith, encouragement, mentorship, humor, and skill as a physical therapist, I don't know how you would have come back from so many setbacks to regain your strength and reclaim your physical independence. 

For Christmas this year we wanted to make a video tribute to Del.  Tami helped gather images and videos from a dozen different devices taken over more than four years and with incredible patience, persistence and talent created Forrest's Tribute to Del Wilson. The music, 44 Reasons, was written and recorded by Jason Price, Nathan Chuba and Forrest. On this day we would like to share this tribute with Forrest's friends, prayer warriors, and supporters. When I asked Forrest what he would like to say today about his journey so far, he said, "This video says it all". 

You can watch Forrest's Tribute to Del on YouTube :

With grateful and optimistic hearts, we look forward to the next amazing five years of your journey.

 Kick on, Champ!

Mum & Pops

Friday, December 25, 2015

Wishing you a Joyous Christmas Day

We are grateful this Christmas day to be home at BrightWood together. We are sending prayers and love to Nat, Joshua and other families celebrating Christmas in hospital today.  

We have been blessed with a Wonderful month at home.   Here are a few  of the highlights:  Some of Forrest friends were able to join him to see Spectre on his 23rd birthday. A real joy after spending two of the last five birthdays in hospital.  

A little unconventional chainsaw PT helped bring in our BrightWood Christmas tree!

Christmas shopping with Austin and Forrest is always entertaining!

At Forrests check up at Johns Hopkins with one of his doctors on 12/23, Dr. Liptoncott exclaimed,  "Forrest you look like a million bucks!"  All of Forrest's blood work looked just as good and we got Forrest's early Christmas wish.  No more continuous IV antibiotic's and the Hickman central IV line came out!!!

While it was great to see familiar nurses who adore Forrest & Toliver, Toliver was clearly a little concerned about our visit to the hospital and was eager to get Forrest out of there!

The unseasonably warm weather in Virginia allowed us to have a day hike on Christmas Eve. 

Sending love and gratitude to all our family, friends, prayer warriors, doctors, therapists, and nurses who have made this chapter in Forrest's journey possible. Next up; Pop's legendary herbs de Provence brined beer can turkey! 

God Bless & Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I Feel Good

"Nana Nana Nana I knew that I would!"   You sang James Brown out loud for Dr. Kumar when he asked you, "how are you feeling?"  

Dr. Kumar admired your "guns", gave you all gold stars for your post op check up at Hopkins Friday, AND he said you are doing so well,  we do not need to plan for another surgery in February!  

Saturday, lunch outside on the deck at The Red Horse in Middleburg with Shayna Gio Toliver & Yeager, was an impossible vision come to life.  You; Home, Healthy, Whole and Happy hanging out with your friends!  Another proof that miracles do still happen! 

Sunday, you and I had a walk around BrightWood soaking up the unseasonably warm December sunshine.  You and your horse, O' Riley, had a little discussion about how delicious over ripe pears might be.  

O'Riley convinced you to let him do the taste test! Yum Yum! 

Counting our blessings every day and sending our love and prayers to those still in hospital tonight.  

Mum & Team 44

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Home for Christmas!

Where to start? Last Friday, 10 days after being released from the hospital and a little more than three weeks from major surgery, you enthusiastically climbed up on stage at Salamander Resort and sang your heart out for Tom, APTB and Middleburg.  Your OWN rendition of course, "I AM home for Christmas!"

Where would we be without A Place to Be in your life.... Your incredible cadre of brilliant surgeons, doctors, and nurses have saved your life... again and again. But it is A Place to Be, accompanied by your faithful friends, that have saved your remarkable spirit....again and again.   I went back just now and watched on YouTube your rehearsal of "Carol of the Bells" with Tom for the Holiday Recital 2012.

You were not able to perform that year because you were back in the hospital again on the day of the recital.  Sometimes I think I  have blocked out the darkest days from my memory.  So I think occasionally, but not too often, it is good to look behind us, just to remember how far you have come Darlin' and how hard it has been for you.  Though my memory is becoming more selective, we never forget how blessed we are and how grateful we are for all those who have helped us along the way.  

Saturday we celebrated Christmas in Middleburg in the parade with our amazing friends at Canine Companions for Independence. 

Toliver reverted to a 12 week old puppy when he saw his puppy raiser Colleen in person!!! What a gift of love Colleen has given you! And now she is raising her 10th puppy, Lady, for CCI! Paws up for Colleen and all the big hearted CCI puppy raisers! 

After the parade Toliver invited a few of his CCI friends home for a little after party!  What amazing life changing animals!!!

Sometimes in the quiet moments I wonder, is their a larger purpose to this journey?  What am I supposed to be learning that has us seemingly going backwards to relive setbacks and dark days, until I get it.... Then I see you back on stage grinning, singing, still shining brightly and I think maybe the lesson is simply to embrace each moment with grace and gratitude. To face each day we are given with joy and to offer someone else who might be in need, the song in our hearts.  

Shine on. Forrest. 

With gratitude and love,

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

You Are Invited...

Forrest is continuing to enjoy being at home.  He says he is feeling "happy and good" and has been easing his way back into therapies and activities.  One of those activities is Music Therapy and preparing for a special event this week.  This Friday night is the A Place to Be Holiday Recital at 6:30pm at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg.  Forrest and friends from A Place to Be will be performing a variety of songs sure to get you in the holiday spirit.  It is an inspiring and beautiful evening and you don't want to miss it!

Hope to see you there!
- Team 44

A group of friends visited last week to welcome Forrest home from Hopkins.
Thumbs up for being back at BrightWood!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks

So many blessings to be thankful for!  Home, incredible family, loyal friends, faithful prayer warriors, skilled doctors & sugeons, caring nurses, talented therapists & aides, Saint Toliver... Team 44!  After a month in the hospital, Forrest's pain, all that uncertainty, ups and downs, worry, sleepless be suddenly HOME is in a way unnerving.  We've been surviving hour to hour on worry, adrenaline and coffee, now suddenly... All this space, quiet, we can breathe. It's a huge wonderful transition.  Even this transition was blessed by great friends!  We hadn't really believed we would make it home for Thanksgiving and hadn't a moment to shop or plan. 

Our Elgin Angels, Carina and Kaki delivered all the delicious side dishes, and Martinelli's sparkling apple cider (which Forrest drank four glasses of!) for our Thanksgiving feast! Maley baked us a homemade apple pie and Pops roasted a beer can turkey on his grill. We had a feast for sure!  

Nothing like a long hospital stay to help you cherish life's simple pleasures! A hot cup of tea, the remote, and an afternoon of football games! Only thing missing was Austin!  He'll be home in a couple weeks for Christmas and our little family will be complete again. God bless all our earthly angels who have watched so carefully over Forrest and our family throughout this journey.  

Our plan now is to get back to living and healing. As long as things are quiet we will update weekly. Forrest is planning on singing in the APTB Holiday Recital, so if you're local we hope to see you next Friday evening December 4th at Salamander Resort. Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

Team 44