Thursday, June 27, 2013

"The Little Mermaid" performance

Forrest has been attending camp with about sixty kids and mentors for the past 2 weeks through "A Place to Be".  They have worked very hard to prepare a production of "The Little Mermaid".  The community performance is tomorrow evening (Friday, June 28th) at 7pm at The Hill School in Middleburg.  Tickets will be $10 at the door.  I have seen most of the rehearsals and HIGHLY recommend coming out to see the show.  The show is fun, the costumes are amazing, but most importantly, the performers are so inspiring.  Hope to see you there!  

- Tami (and "Sailor" Forrest)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Your Story 6/25/13

Hey Darlin',

I'm writing to you from California, and I can't stop thinking about our conversation Sunday night. I'm always a little nervous about leaving. I came down to your bedside as we do each night to check on you one more time and say good night. In order to help your memory, we remind you of all the amazing things you have done and accomplished that day. Every day is such a blessing now that you are out of imminent danger and together our family celebrates each day as the gift we know it to be. I knelt beside your bed, and I recounted the highlights of your week end. With Shayna as your partner, and Ben cheering you on, you mastered the rules of bocce. With your nurse close by, and you carefully compensating for your challenges balancing in the grass, you promptly won two games. And with only two spotters you climbed right into the jacuzzi, grinning all the while, when the last time it took an electronic lift, a sling and five people to get you safely into the hot tub! After reveling in your accomplishments, I explained that I would be gone for a few days for business meetings in California and then I asked you, "Is there anything that you worry about"? I expected you might say something about your stomach tube, or PEG, which clearly is a source of frustration for you. Instead, without a moments hesitation you thoughtfully replied, "Sometimes I worry about the things I can't change and about the things that are beyond my control." Your answer was so unexpected and insightful, I wasn't sure how to respond. I didn't have the courage at that moment to ask you what you feel those looming monsters are. Instead, I recounted for you all of the things that you have gained control over in just the last few months and assured you that you are growing stronger and gaining more control over your life every day.

Forrest, you have been to hell and back. You have faced and overcome demons that even those of us who have been by your side throughout your journey cannot really know. I hear every day what an inspiration you are to so many people, some who have never even met you. Your outlook and attitude amaze and humble us. I know it will be hard, and even painful at times, but you are ready now to begin writing your own story. You have important things to share. As you continue to heal and your story unfolds, your thoughts, insights and feelings will guide you as you face new challenges and they can be a source of strength, inspiration and hope to others who also encounter seemingly insurmountable hardships in their lives.

I read recently, "Despair is often a crucible for growth. When our problems are too big to tackle, we must grow bigger." Mary Pipher seems to be writing about you! How have you done this, grown big enough to overcome so many unimaginable problems? And you have done so with uncommon grace and kindness to everyone around you. This is who you are and it is your inner story of courage, resiliency and hope.

With love and gratitude, Mum

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Father's Day and BrightWood Happenings

     It was definitely the best Fathers Day in the last couple years for me!  The only thing missing was Austin, who was with us in spirit, while working hard in Hawaii.  We know he is proud of Forrest and thrilled with his daily progress. Forrest's firsts since his injury continue to amaze us all!  I'll try to tell you and put up pictures of most of them.
     He flew to New York via PALS, Patient Airlift Services, on a small plane that transported him to interview with CCI for a service dog. This was Forrest's first flight in almost 3 years!  It was a very hot day and it was long and tiring but worthwhile.  Thanks PALS, CCI and Nurse Gayle for making this trip possible.  We are happy to tell everyone he is on the waiting list for a dog, but it can be a year long process.
    We attended Whitney Weeden's graduation party and we got to see several of Forrest's friends and teachers and wish Whitney and family congratulations.  Nick took Forrest on a tour of the house they are moving out of and reminisced about the places where they got in trouble together.  Forrest appreciated the walk down memory lane and remembered lots of it.
     Forrest went to a movie, something we haven't been brave enough to do since the accident.  We started with Star Trek, since he and I and Austin are Star Trek fans and he enjoyed it immensely.  We attend with a nurse and friends so he walks or rolls his wheelchair into the ADA row and watches with his entourage.
     Forrest continues to practice and progress with his Lacrosse skills and since his buddies Shayna and Gio are hanging out working in the area and staying on the farm, he has been practicing LAX almost nightly.  He has also been playing chess recently with Gio and Ben  his summertime helper) and usually beats all comers.  He beat me regularly before the injury so I haven't tried again yet.  He and multiple friends also play pool often and at that he doesn't beat me so regularly, however his mother is the family pool shark.
     Many of Forrest's friends from Hill, Mercersburg and Highland have come by to visit and we look forward to seeing many more.  David, Gio and Ben have all been working with him on relearning his guitar skills and teaching him chords that he is picking up.  He continues to work with the great crowd and friends at A Place to Be and music therapy improving his voice and has been attending Music Theater camp and we watch video's of his work there nightly.
     He completed in-home schooling this spring with special education teacher Sharon and a team of supporting therapists from Fauquier Public Schools and passed the U.S. Government course!  He has worked so hard to accomplish this and is (sort of) looking forward to some summer school to prepare him for fall semester.   He plans to attend Kettle Run High school and finish his last two credits for high school graduation.
     Forrest continues daily to work hard with Tami on schoolwork and memory exercises and all his wonderful nurses work and watch over Forrest and make sure he is safe and gets his complex medications on schedule. Del continues to challenge and encourage him to expand his physical boundaries twice weekly with physical therapy. Forrest is making steady improvement on his balance, but we still watch him carefully to prevent possible falls.  He is chewing soft food and soups now and is able to have more than one half his food and water intake orally.  Again his nurses monitor this closely to prevent aspiration or choking.  Water still requires thickener but he is making progress on swallowing and speaking, which are major milestones from where we were six months ago.
     His mother and I are thankful for Forrest and his joyful spirit, his amazing brother Austin who continues to inspire and motivate Forrest, all his many friends and helpers, the prayers that so many have offered and the generous community in which we live. Miracles like Forrest can happen, with such a supporting team, hard work and if you have an unstoppable work ethic like Forrest's.

Thank you Forrest and Austin for making every Fathers Day special for me,

Forrest with the CCI Executive Director and CCI dogs Fenway and Captain Kirk
Mum waving during takeoff
Forrest's fabulous PALS pilots and new friends, Al and JJ
At the movies with Liza, Shayna and Gio
"Fathoms Below!" - Rehearsing a sailor scene during APTB's summer theater camp production of "The Little Mermaid"

Forrest and his fantastic Fauquier School staff! 
Enjoying dinner with Peter, Shayna and Gio

 Here are a few YouTube videos of Forrest's adventures:

If you are interested in seeing the amazing APTB Summer Camp show "The Little Mermaid", check out the info on the poster below: