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