Sunday, January 8, 2012

Update: Sunday, 1/8/12

Hey Forrest & Austin, it’s your Mom. This was a week we have waited a long time for. We are settling into our new routine at BrightWood, wrapped in the warmth and safety of our family, friends and community. The Man Cave has taken on the pulse and complexity of a 24/7 rehabilitation unit. We are building our own finely tuned team of Doctors, nurses, teachers, physical therapists, massage therapist, equipment technicians, suppliers, contractors, and most importantly, our collective friends and family who offer their unconditional love, faith, homemade nourishment, and emotional support. Your friends continue their own vigil. They come by, lighting up our home with their smiles, energy and youthful optimism.

We managed a number of firsts this week. Forrest’s first visit to our stable, where my Foxhunter, Finn, gently lowered his massive Irish head into Forrest’s lap and christened him anew with loving horse slobber. At Austin’s suggestion and with Tom Switzer’s and Tom Northrup's orchestration, we bundled up Forrest for his first outing from home, which entailed a snail’s pace drive to the Hill School. A commute we used to make in 7 minutes flat, took us hours of preparation culminating in a perilous 20 minute drive, but we made it and it was Magic. We rolled Forrest into his 8th Grade room at Hill and were received by an amazing group of teachers, mentors, coaches, heads of Hill… so many childhood memories, so much love and support. These are the same amazing individuals who rallied around you, Austin when you were only eleven and recovering from heart surgery. Already wearing gloves to protect Forrest from any exposure to germs, one by one they sat next to you Forrest, held your hand and shared some of their favorite “Forrest moments”. We were a bit worried it might be too much for a first outing, but you were visibly relaxed, safe in the familiar folds of the Hill Community.

With Del Wilson and Valerie Lee’s help, we have put together a rigorous BrightWood therapy plan. And with Dr. Falkenstein and Dr. Lee’s oversight, we are closely monitoring Forrest’s medical status and emergency plans at home. Tom Sweitzer continues as your unflappable music therapist and mentor, artfully encouraging and challenging you to find your voice, to sing your own song. Today, with Austin’s and Pop’s encouragement and physical support, you stood twice, Forrest. Each time holding your head a little higher, your size 12 feet a little more firmly anchored on your home ground.

As I write this, I am between shifts but at long last I am sitting by our own hearth, with Sundance at my feet and our parrots, Cap’n Jack and Carmen carrying on an animated debate. We are almost a year out from your injury Forrest, and in many ways we have only just begun this seemingly endless battle. The details involved in managing the days and nights at home can be overwhelming, but we are indeed blessed. We are home. We have each other. We are enveloped in the love of our community, our neighbors, our lifelong friends. And after a hard day of rehab for Forrest and all-night shifts bedside for Austin, we can slip outside together and soak up that ephemeral winter sunlight, breathe in the scent of the Virginia woods, and gather our strength for the next chapter.

With Endless Love for our boys,


Forrest reconnects with teachers at Hill School

Horse therapy with Finn

Dr. Falkenstein checks in on Forrest


  1. What a team amazing to read about and even more amazing to think about all of the things it took to put together the wonderful interactions...with Finn, Hill School, Tom, and friends and community. Again, wow, impressive all. And great job Forrest for handling it all like a champ. And Austin, if you are doing that night shift a lot....well, you are most impressive too...but we knew that! Well done. Mum and Pops...amazing support. Thanks for the incredible message.

  2. What a wonderful blog! I'm so happy that things are going so well at home. With Forrest getting to see Finn again, and then by going to Hill School--what a wonderful day!! I'm sure that tons of work went into this outing from all of the team. Congratulations on a great outcome!


    Wilbur and Joyce

  3. Hi Forrest,
    I really wish I could have seen you at Hill but I didn't know you were there! Welcome home! I see you are still using that pillow and I bet you could use a new one but my sewing machine is not working so well. I will goto my Grandma's and make a new one for you. See you soon Forrest!
    Olivia now in third grade at Hill Simmons

  4. What a blessing to be home and surrounded by so much love and support! You look so good in your pictures Forrest! You look stronger and healthier! We will keep praying for your progress and the amazing people who are supporting you.

    God bless!
    Kelly and Family

  5. Wow, you look good Forrest, particularly the shot of you with Dr. Falkenstein. I agree, you look stronger, more relaxed. I am so excited you, your mom, and Austin, dad too, are home. There is just no replacement. We are supposed to have snow showers today. With those beautiful windows you will be able to watch the magic. Love to you and your family, Barbara and the gang from Rabbit Hill XXOO

  6. Grandma Norma AllenJanuary 9, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    Forrest, to see you there home at Brightwood in your newly remodeled Man Cave, going to the barn to be with the horses, and you at Hill School with all those amazing teachers you and Austin have had in years past. To see you there at all those places when your Granpa Doc and I were there with you when visiting our'so great' Brightwood family. I'm so very proud of all of you and your accomplishments. Love you family!

  7. Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful post. Rae, you are such a beautiful writer. You place us right beside Forrest in the barn, during arduous preparations, outside as you breathe the chilled air.

    I will have so much more to say after a night's sleep to absorb this incredible missive.

    For now, please know that I cover Forrest, and all of you, in prayer and give such extraordinary thanks that you are HOME.

    Amazing mother, amazing father....amazing, amazing brother. What a privilege to know all of you.

    Love from Shannon, et al. XO

    The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.
    Maya Angelou

  8. Forrest your blogs specially the ones by your Mum, makes me feel a better person each time i read them. She takes us (readers) there with you.She should write a book and will get a lot of attention,,, But what a great team you have, you are so blessed to have everything you have!!!! You are such a strong young lad and a great example to all of us that has and can do what we want but sometimes don't feel like. Thanks Forrest for being strong and teaching us through your experience.
    Hope to see you soon. I have to get Austins phone number to set up an appt. to see you. Or maybe I'll call the house.

    Love James, Hazel and Rebekah