Austin, it's your Mom. Yes, this is your brother's blog, but it is your journey too. From the moment in January 2011 when Forrest was injured, your life was also forever altered. You set aside your plans and embraced his battle with a vengeance. You insisted on sitting by his hospital bed through endless dark and terrifying nights. You were his advocate and his voice when he couldn't speak for himself. You celebrated the slightest signs of hope and comforted us all when he lost ground. I remember one bleak spell when you put your arm around me and said, "Mom, think of all those firsts we have to look forward to again, his first smile, his first words, his first steps". Your faith and determination gave me the courage to begin...again and again.
Your voice, your secret "brother handshakes", shared memories and promises of adventures yet to come slowly but surely drew him back to us. As he gained strength you were there to challenge and encourage him, walking each step by his side. Your shared laughter brought joy back to my mother's heart.
And now, at last, the time has come for you to strike out on your own. Your reaching out to take on new challenges and responsibilities will give him the confidence to do the same. As hard as it was for you to leave, it is the right time for both of you. Forrest is strong now. You will light the way and as before, he will rise to your challenge and he will follow. Your phone calls and Skypes energize him and make him that much more determined to visit you in Hawaii as soon as he is able. What a great goal for him to work toward. So many shared brother memories involve sunny beaches, oceans & marine life. And now we can look forward to his first visit to see you, his first time back in the ocean, so much life ahead.
Even though you are thousands of miles away, your presence is still palpable here, in the aquarium you constructed so that Forrest could care for the fish, in the songs we sing, the stories we tell and the games we play. We are all so proud of you. With love and admiration, Mom
"When brothers agree, no fortress is as strong as their common life." Antisthenes