He sits alone hunched over. Inside his head he runs from the guilt that has beaten him for 10 years. Joey, 15, cannot get out of the past.  He wants to believe, he wants to know hope but the ones who should love him make this impossible.  I tell him the good news and he finds it hard to believe; so many voices and cursing crowd out the truth that it is not his fault.

At age 5, he and his little brother were at home with their mother.  They depended on a wood stove for heat.  Mother had fallen asleep on the couch as two curious little boys played by the fire.  The oldest opens the door to the stove and burns his hand.  The little one copied the older and what happened next changed the lives of everyone. The heat was too much and a toddler’s lack of stability could not protect.  Little brother stumbled head first into the stove and……. Joey ran to get help.  By the time anyone could do anything it was too late.  And for the next decade the blame and the quilt consumed Joey.  All he ever heard was how awful and worthless he was.

Joey developed a learning disability and paralyzing depression. Post traumatic stress disorder keeps replaying the site and sounds of the childhood horror. His affect is flat and is diagnosis is emotional attachment disorder.

After four days of attention and unconditional love, Joey cracked. He fell lifeless into my arms and cried for over an hour.  For the first time he begins to let go and believe….There is a spring of hope in the valley.