Sometimes you're driving home from a night of Project Hope and you wonder to yourself, "What just happened." Well, that was last night.
We ended the night at Mama's. To any HOPE veteran that would say it all.
It started with a long and muddied trek through the woods and across the tracks and over the hills and through the woods and across the other tracks and over a couple more hills. Alas, we found the tent village of Perch.
Here we meet Bill and his bloodied face. He stumbles from the tent and lets loose unguarded honesty and vulnerability. The drink is the only way to soften the pain of his wife's death. There is another equally sobering confession to my left, and I try to listen in on both conversations. Bill acknowledges the booze won't answer any questions or pull him from his misery. "I'm crazy. I know I'm going crazy," he says in reference to still talking to his wife. To my left, stories of horrific Vietnam War memories wrench at my ear.
Pain and sorrow rule in this little village of tents. As usual, we hope to wash that away for a bit. We listen and offer reassurance.
"You guys don't judge. God Bless you," Bill says, and by the end of the night, he's warmed up to us to the point that he's cracking jokes and smiling.
It's a rough night emotionally for all involved. But challenges such as tonight provide us with the experiences necessary to find answers for the future so that we can take action and make a positive difference in someone's life.