I slowly stirred the vat of oatmeal in the kitchen of New Hope, lost in my thoughts. Jason, one of the younger boys living here, wandered in and asked if he could help make breakfast. I hoisted him up to the pot and was reminded of my first few weeks here. It was a blur of tight smiles, sympathetic glances, and awkward embraces. I was older than Jason is now, but still oblivious to what was in store for me. After the crash, it took me two years before I could get into a car again and five years before I could be behind the wheel. I still can't drive past the pub without feeling the scars burn on my shoulder.
Jason hopped off the stool and scurried away after I doled out the oatmeal and handed him a bowl. I worked with Christina and Sarah to tear sheets off beds and throw them in the giant washers before heading out the door to the minute clinic. I stepped out into the morning air and the world seemed calm, as if sheltered by the sky and its blanket of dark clouds. The trees loomed in front of me, completely still. All I could hear was the crackling of a fire to my right. Then suddenly a women burst into frantic laughter, her face framed by the dancing light. Eager to avoid an encounter I tried to walk quickly to my car, but she pulled me into a conversation about New Hope and her friend Sarah, a volunteer at the children's home.
I arrived at the minute clinic a little later than expected, and I moved quickly to make up for lost time. It hasn't been that long since I started working here, but I can already feel my mind going numb. I end up with too much time to think about what I've given up to be here, and then I just feel guilty for even thinking about turning my back on Christina and New Hope. I have to continuously remind myself that I'm here to give back and to confront the trauma that has plagued the past fifteen years of my life. But that’s getting pretty hard to do as the days whip by in a blur of flu shots, oatmeal, and grubby hands.