My rock of Gibraltar

Posted by Elizabeth Forst in Life After Paralysis on December 06, 2016 # Health

Thanksgiving has come and gone… and Christmas is just around the corner. The air has a brisk, cold bite and the first snow has fallen; the holidays are suddenly upon us. Throngs of people are dashing through the stores rushing to perform holiday activities. As I watch and listen to all of the holiday banter, I think what it truly means to feel grateful and thankful for our lives, our families and friends, and the close ones that enrich our experiences. Are we once again entangled in a materialistic world that forgets feeling grateful for those around us?

Just last week, I attended the annual Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s gala and fundraiser A Magical Evening, held in New York City where gratitude was alive and well. I was lucky enough to attend and hobnob amongst other paras and quads, meeting all of the wonderfully friendly and important people that embody the Foundation. It was quite the red carpet event; I made some amazing connections and had a great time – definitely an experience of true gratitude, gratitude for a new found family that I now belong to.

Growing up on the East Coast, I have visited the Big Apple many times around the holidays. The sights, the smells, the shopping, the people… all of it is truly magical. I've witnessed the lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, shopped shoulder to shoulder in Times Square enamored by the lights of the big city, jumped on and off subway lines heading uptown or downtown meeting up with friends and spent many nights exploring new restaurants and bars soaking in the New York City culture. It is undoubtedly an exciting city.

Yet, one place that I had yet to visit was the World Trade Center Memorial, and so it seemed appropriate this trip it be a stop on my visit. Visiting the memorial site is very close to my heart as my brother, Tracy Forst, was supposed to be in the south tower that fateful morning on September 11. Along with so many other stories of individuals that overslept their alarms that morning, had a sick kid at home and had to take a day off, or missed a train causing them to be late to work… all stories of how their lives were saved.

My brother, living and working in Denver, Colorado at the time, was supposed to be in the south tower on floor 102 at 8 AM the morning of September 11, for an important meeting. A colleague called him last minute to divert his New York City business plans for a half-day stopover in Mississippi to help with a troubled client. My brother, always a "yes" man, promptly changed his flight and flew to his affiliates aid, all the while unknowingly being saving from probable impending doom with the towers next day collapse. The events that transpired the following morning on September 11, were shocking and stunning for all of us, the saddest of days. Yet, my brother' s life was thankfully spared – it was clear this was not his time and there was something more he needed to do on this earth. Aside from raising a beautiful family of his own, being such a strong integral part of mine, and being one of the great leaders in the insurance industry – my brother is a true rock of Gibraltar in this world.

Fast-forward to 2014, his little sister – me – takes a fateful dive into a swimming pool breaking my neck never to walk again. Who is there right by my side mentally, physically and emotionally helping me every step of the way – my brother Tracy. I could write for days on how grateful and thankful I am for his presence in my life, standing by my side throughout this whole journey. I am eternally grateful that his life was spared on September 11 and I realize how much of my life would be different – for the worse – if he was in that meeting that morning. Tracy is always a call away, supports me in any endeavor, travels with me, is my confidante and financial guru and now is leading the way to helping find cures for spinal cord injuries with his recent joining of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation board of trustees. I know he, along with the rest of my family, are committed to finding the cure and improving quality of life.

So in the season of gratitude, I am thankful for him… for he is my rock of Gibraltar.

Take a moment this holiday season, look around at the people who support you, love you and facilitate your human experience… And say a simple thank you, because these words are greater than gold.

Keep on keeping on, EB

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.