Forrest was in the hallway in his chair when we got up to the floor, and Rae told him that I had come to see him. I can’t find the words to express how great it was to see Forrest, to hold his hand and talk to him about what was going on at the farm, about how proud I was of him and how happy I was to see him. While he was pretty quiet and tired yesterday, more than once, he made direct eye contact with me and held my gaze for a while, letting me know that he knew that I was there. After we talked for a bit, he dozed off for a quick snooze before his physical therapist came to take him to do his walking for the day.
My first experience with the word humbled on this day was watching Forrest work in his PT session. His therapist and Austin got him up on those impossibly long legs, and for those minutes, you just have never seen anybody work harder than Forrest did. His concentration was evident on his face as he fought to connect thought to movement, and we were overjoyed to see him take a purposeful step; the joy that radiated from Rae when he did was palpable.
I left to run to National to go pick up Aunt Lobie, returning for another session of frontline Team 44. After dropping her off with Rae, I intended to back up to the floor to say goodbye to the boys quickly before fighting through the rush hour traffic to get home. I ended up staying with them for almost another 2 hours, during which I had opportunity for more encounters with the word “humbled”. In Forrest’s room, for the most part, it was just the boys and me; nurses came and went, but mostly, just us. To have the opportunity to just hang out with them was nothing short of amazing. Austin moves with a quiet purpose, constantly monitoring Forrest’s movements and expressions, his breathing rate and his lines. Much of the time, Austin worked on flexing Forrest’s legs, easing the tension in his hamstrings, and I knelt on the floor next to Forrest’s bed, holding one of his hands and using the other hand to help soothe him when he would seem to become distressed. Austin’s dedication to caring for Forrest has been apparent to anyone who reads the blog, but to see it in action was incredible. I am awed by his devotion to his little brother and to his family. With the exception of greatly missing Forrest’s witty conversation and snappy comebacks, it felt like old times to be with them and joke around and just hang out. Again Forrest made direct eye contact with me on more than one occasion, making sure I knew he was with us and a part of the conversation, even though he couldn’t verbally respond.
Finally, it came time for me to go home, though honestly, I hated to leave. Whatever nervousness I felt at first was so quickly replaced by the ease of old friends, and my tremendous love for the two boys I spent the evening with. Rae, Kent, Austin and Forrest have become my extended family in the time I’ve been with them, and I am honored to be a part of theirs. I told Forrest that I had to go, promising that it wouldn’t be so long before I saw him again. I kissed his hand and stood up, turning to give Austin a hug when Forrest raised up his right arm towards me; Austin said, “He’s trying to give you a hug!!” which after some maneuvering, he was able to do. He rested his arm across my shoulder and very purposefully patted my back several times, while Austin said that that was the first time he’d done that in some time. I blew them a kiss goodbye, and I am not ashamed to say that I walked out into the hallway and burst into tears by the elevators, totally overcome with pride for how hard Forrest is working and what an amazing man Austin has become, awe for how Rae and Kent have held everything together for their family and work’s sake alike. Humbled doesn’t begin to describe it.
|Forrest hard at work as Austin looks on.|
|Rebekah glad to be reunited with Forrest for the first time since January.|
|Rebekah and Forrest|