Monday, December 12, 2011

Update: Monday, 12/12/11

As I sit watching you sleep, Forrest, Christmas Carols are playing softly and the white lights on your little Christmas trees sparkle behind your hospital bed. You have been battling relentless demons for eleven endless months. I pray that as you sleep tonight, your demons dissipate, leaving you in peace. I pray that you slip away to happier places and times, filled with laughter, where you wrestle on the Great Room floor with your brother, taunt your father as teen age boys should, and dash off to spend time with your friends. Eleven months in six hospitals and seven major surgeries. Thursday is your 19th birthday and you will have spent almost your entire 18th year in the hospital. In the face of all the heartbreak and setbacks, the resilience and determination you share with your brother never fail to amaze and inspire your father and me.

It's time to bring you home to BrightWood Forrest, in preparation for your next and God willing last surgery, to regain your strength, to reconnect with familiar surroundings and the community that we all sorely miss. Team 44 is working feverishly around the clock to get you home for Christmas. You have to be "medically stable" and we have to amass a plethora of equipment and supplies to keep you safe and comfortable at home. This week you will undergo a variety of lab tests, a cat scan, radiographs, and another series of Botox injections under general anesthesia to relieve the muscle contractions that hobble your progress. Consultations with your team of specialists; physiatrists, neurosurgeons, nurses, as well as speech, physical & occupational therapists will help us fine tune our medical & logistical plans. We are determined. We are convinced that the healing power of being home with friends and your extended BrightWood family will brighten your days and reinvigorate your recovery!

We have so much to be grateful for, Forrest. So many talented and compassionate people have embraced your journey, amazing doctors, innovative therapists, delightful nurses, dedicated friends and colleagues. We are a blessed family. We are with you every step of the way. And together we are coming home. I will read the poem below that Shannon sent to you every day, while you are building the bridge that will carry you across the abyss, to a new shore and a new beginning.

Wishing all who have offered their love and support a joyous Christmas and Healthy Loving New Year,


It Takes Time To Heal
Ted Hibbard

It takes time to heal.

Build a bridge
from now to tomorrow.
Sink the piers
deep into the Earth.
Pour in concrete
day by day,
a little at a time,
and let it set.

It takes time to heal.

It may feel very awkward,
as if you're making empty promises,
as if you're simply spanning empty space.

But someday, somehow, somewhere,
you'll find yourself
upon a brand new shore,
glancing back at the bridge
which you alone have built.

It takes time to heal.


  1. And in your spare time, you must write books Rae. Is there no talent you don't have? Beautiful, peaceful, loving words.....tears in my eyes. The challenges have been immense and yet the light of love has shone through...somehow. Amazing. We do pray for easier times for all and the opportunity to heal at home. And Forrest, our daily prayers for you will continue with hopes and belief that this 19th year will bring joy and comfort to you with the healing that will happen. We love you all. Prayers for a restful night......

  2. Forrest - I do so love you. And Aunt Lynn is not the only one with tears in her eyes. You have such an amazing brother Austin who is constantly there taking such wonderful care of you - along with Mom and Dad and the rest of that super Team 44. So glad Mom is back with you - watching over you each day. :)

    Your Dad called me last night as he left the hospital while driving back to the farm to take care of things there and get ready for days of keeping horses well and fit that come in to the Clinic. He's looking forward to getting back to see you. We talked of football games we watched and he told me that you and he watched those Redskins.

    When you think of your Grandma Norma - know that I would love to be sitting beside you watching those big brown eyes gazing back at me. Take care Forrest. Love, Grandmom Allen

  3. Forrest, I do so hope that you'll be able to go home for Christmas. Just to be home again and see old friends will surely help get all of you rejuvinated & ready to go back to fight and conquer your injuries!! I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT!!
    Love and Prayers for all of Team 44,

    Wilbur and Joyce

  4. While I am a stranger to you, I have been following Forrest's story from the beginning, drawn in to your daily struggles as I too have a child who's life took a tragic and unexpected turn 6 years ago. Until you have been there there's no way to understand the feeling and I have been inspired by your optimism and courage. This poem brought tears to my eyes as well and I have printed it to give to my daughter in the hope that she will find strength in it's message. I hope Forrest will be able to be with you at home for Christmas and that 2012 will be a year during which he will build many spans on the bridge to recovery.

  5. So wonderful to think of all of you together at home for the holidays. We hope and pray that this happens for you and that Forrest continues to improve day by day.

  6. Thank you, Rae. We are on a similar journey and all I can say is thank you.

    May God bring you miracles by the score in the coming year.

  7. Happy Happy Birthday! God speed to Brightwood!

  8. Dear Forrest, Rae, Kent, and Austin,

    We support this momentous step and know that being home is the right place for all of you. Come what may, being home together will bring some peace and make a new deep level of healing more possible. We know this decision brings with it many complications, some trepidation, and lots of work but it feels so right. We are thankful that Forrest will be stable enough to make the transition.

    The twinkling lights on our Christmas tree and the tiny white star, hand-felted and sewn with golden threads by Victoria last year at age three, that sits atop the tree, shine in Forrest's honor.

    Happy Birthday to you, our brave young man. May this birthday be the beginning of a year filled with laughter and joy as you grow strong and regain your youthful physical vitality and your cognitive vigor.

    We love you all and are looking forward to hearing all the good stories, and the bloopers, about Forrest's Christmas homecoming.

    Sending Holiday cheer,
    Diane & Jay

  9. I don't think I ever read more beautiful words in my life... filled to the brim with a mother's love, hope and faith! Such grace! With tears in my eyes, I try to write some words of encouragement. But, I feel that you have all you need. You have family, friends, doctors, nurses - a WHOLE team of people who love you, your family and Forrest. I can only offer my sincere wishes that you get Forrest home for Christmas. I know that God's grace will fill every crevice of your home and that Forrest will be filled with all your love! Merry Christmas to you your family and friends. Merry Christmas to the Forrest of great courage and perseverance! You are all in my prayers! Every night.

  10. I've always loved the name of your farm: BrightWood Forrest. It's such a happy name and evokes an ethereal imagine of tall trees and dappled sunshine. When driving on Landmark School Road, if you look at just the right time, you can spy your stone home tucked into a fleeting clearing of the wood. It always makes me smile.

    Your farm sign has beautiful foliage and flowers on it which calls to mind an earlier post of yours, Rae, about a beautiful tree and a moonlit sojourn that Forrest insisted you take with him.

    The forest your brave son has traversed this past year has been dense and dark at times, but also sun-filled and hopeful, too, thank God.

    As Forrest reaches the milestone of his 19th birthday tomorrow, my heart is filled with joy and hope for him and all of you!

    With your permission, I pray -

    Father God, thank you for the gift of Forrest's birthday. There have been some frightening days this past year, but clearly your plan for Forrest is not yet complete, and I give such thanks that he is alive and healing, albeit slowly and in your economy.

    Please grant his precious family, his medical team and all who love Forrest and his family the wisdom to discern your plan for him and the patience to accept its time-line.

    Please clear the path of all obstacles in bringing Forrest home where he can continue to heal and gain strength.

    Please continue to restore the strength and reserves of Forrest's incredible family.

    Please grant Forrest's medical team keen understanding of all tests and clear direction about Forrest's next steps.

    Please provide Rae, Kent and Austin all the necessary resources required in settling Forrest back at HOME.

    Lastly and most importantly, please allow the Kent / Allen family to feel the benefit of our love for them: our prayers to you for Forrest's healing, our prayers for comfort, for peace and most of all, for a continued sense of hopefulness.


    It's the season of new life. Re-birth and renewal. May Forrest transcend all the set-backs and hardship of the past year, and begin a new chapter of recovery and renewal at BrightWood Forrest. At home.

    So much love and constant, daily prayer,

    Shannon, Jim, Meg, Kara and Charlotte XOXO

  11. PS - I'm with Lynn....Rae, among your many talents, is an extraordinary writing skill.

  12. Happy Birthday Forrest! pam chauvin

  13. Oh Forrest, I love the poem! Happy Birthday to you on this 15th day of December, your 19th birthday! It is almost the new year. 2012 will be YOUR year, one step at a time. We all love and miss you and anxiously wait for your return to Brightwood. Peace, joy and happiness this holiday season to you, Rae, Kent, Austin and sweet Forrest! So many hugs, Barbara Riddleberger and the gang at Rabbit Hill XXOO

  14. Happy birthday, Forrest - love you!

  15. Happy Birthday Forrest! May the new year bring you continued recovery at home.

  16. Happy Birthday Forrest! What a beautiful post Rae! You all are amazing and I pray you will be so blessed this Christmas and beyond!!

    The Jensens

  17. Happy birthday Forrest! I hope you had a great day at the aquarium! I was eating dinner with my mom last night and we always talk about you and all the progress you're making. My dad mentioned that tonight he was volunteering at Safeway to ring the bell for the Salvation Army and it reminded me of a really funny story from a few years ago so I thought today of all days would be a good time to share it with you! I think it was back when I was a junior and you were a sophomore and Madison and I had both volunteered with the Salvation Army at Safeway. It was bitterly cold out and Madison and I were praying that some of friends would stop by and talk to us. Lo and behold, you and Nick happened to stop by and we had never been happier. Everything was going well and I was ringing the bell and then you decided that it would be more fun if you rang the bell. So after you and Nick had goofed around for a few minutes with the bell, I remember you rang it so hard that the ringer inside the bell flew off and landed somewhere in the parking lot. We all stood there wondering how you could have possibly rang THAT hard so we started off running around the parking lot trying to find the missing piece. Unfortunately we didn't get too far because we kept laughing about the situation and eventually gave up the search. Stories like this remind us all that even when you aren't trying, you always know how to get people to laugh and have a good time. If you and Nick hadn't shown up, Madison and I would've continued being pretty bored with each other but you turned it into a good time as you always do and because of that, we all got a great memory from it. I hope you've had a great birthday so far and we can't wait for you to come home!

    Annie Olimpi

  18. Happy Birthday 44,
    May your day be filled with healing thoughts, peace, fond memories of birthdays past and dreams of future birthdays filled with love and fun.
    Paula Horne