Like Jesus, every human being has enough memories in his past to occupy his time and thoughts continually. It is not the remembrance of these incidents but the reliving of them that creates havoc in our souls. Mother Angelica
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Unbelievable! After 25 years, I am standing here, looking at the ruins of the rehabilitation centre.
The entrance is dilapidated. Seized with emotion, tears of affection roll down my cheeks. Deep within me, memories churn and tangle around. My thoughts are a vortex of anxiety, sadness, despair, and yet at the end victory.
January 2, 19 … Soft hands helped me up. The hands put me into the waiting vehicle. I felt tired, so tired and nauseous. I did not want to live. A soft voice kept on calming me down. The voice, soft and reassuring, kept on talking to me.
It’s a long ride. Each turn made me feel as if I were tumbling over the edge. Deep into the mountains and high on a hill the vehicle came to a sudden halt. The door opened. I fell out like a bag of potatoes from the vehicle. Again the soft hands and voice. People lead me into the building. It smelled of clean floors. The smell of freshly cooked food sickened me. When did I last have a decent meal? I couldn’t remember. I had to get my bottle. What did I do with it? I got mad with anger. I trembled from head to toe. Strong hands took a firm hold on both my shaky arms. They took me through corridors and around corners. Suddenly I heard a door opening. In front of me a bed, a pillow and blanket. The hands pushed me down onto the bed. They left. I could not stop shaking. Everything faded away. I flopped, onto the bed.
Many days later I woke up. My head was still aching, but the shaking was gone. They transferred me to a dorm with eight other people. The room was airy and clean. My roommates showed me systematically where everything was.
I can remember that there were three wings each with passages and small single rooms and at the end of each a dorm with eight beds. The passages were divided into two wings, with a kitchenette and bathroom on both sides of the passage in the middle.The kitchenette had a kettle, some cups and a small fridge. We could make our coffee or tea which the hospital provided.
There were small enclosures between the wings of the building. Inmates could sit outside and breathe fresh air. Everything was secured down. There was no opportunity for any escape.
As each person improved, they each gradually got more freedom.
A fully furnished recreation room provided hours of fun for the patients. Every person had some chores to do. Cooking, cleaning, gardening later. In the end, persons were led to live a better life again. After two years of rehabilitation, I could go back into the community, rehabilitated and well. Clean of alcohol and drugs, and here I stand again, looking at the ruins of the hospital which I am going to enter in a moment from now. It hurts to look back at that time, but I am grateful for the soft voice and hands that brought me here that day twenty-five years ago.
I have taken all the photos. The hospital was locked and I had to take the photos through the windows.
Part two will be about entering the hospital and telling what could be seen, felt and remembered.