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