— Chapter 5 —

Grief is hard, but Cory never realized just how hard until he lost his father. Just weeks earlier, Cory received the news: his father had tragically passed away.

In the months that followed, the days seemed to drag on. Cory was filled with a variety of emotions…confusion, sadness, loneliness, anger, uncertainty. What would he do without his father?

His Counselor, Bruce, was spending extra time with him. Cory’s new Houseparents, Dean and Donna, poured out vast amounts of love and encouragement. Even his housemates were supportive in their own way. Despite the hurt and the pain in Cory’s heart, there was hope at Eagle Ranch. One person in particular—Joe, his Program Assistant—helped Cory through his grief.

Cory heard a honk outside. He crawled off the couch, pulling the living room curtain back to see Joe sitting in that beat-up car of his, with a goofy grin on his face. Joe saw Cory through the window and motioned him toward the car.

With permission from his Houseparents, Cory walked out the front door and joined Joe in his car. They were soon driving around the Ranch, and Cory knew what was coming.

“So, how are you doing today, Cory?” said Joe, glancing over at him as he drove. “Are you finally ready to be real with me?”

Cory sighed. Joe had been asking him the same question for weeks. At first, Cory wouldn’t respond at all. In the days that followed, he typically gave Joe a short and simple, “Nope.”

But this time. This time was different. It was like all of the emotions Cory had been feeling over the past few months were coming up at once. They were twirling in his stomach, doing backflips and cartwheels. Cory felt like he was going to be sick.

“Come on, Cory. Just tell me how you’re feeling,” whispered Joe, putting his car in park by the lake, turning to make eye contact.

Cory stared at his shoes, his feet folded over one another. Suddenly, it happened. Tears began to fall. Words and feelings and anger and every other emotion possible flew out of Cory’s mouth, melding together in a mess of broken heart. Joe simply sat and listened, sitting with Cory as he poured out his pain.

When there were no more tears, when there were no more words, Cory looked up at Joe in relief.

Joe simply nodded, and after a few closing remarks, put the car in drive and brought them back to the Love Home. Walking through the door together, the smell of freshly baked lasagna hitting their nostrils, Joe winked at Cory. Cory gave him a small smile, and they both headed to the table for dinner.

Cory (right middle), his Program Assistant Joe (top left), and other housemates white water rafting.
Cory (right middle), his Program Assistant Joe (top left), and other housemates white water rafting.


Program Assistants are crucial to the Eagle Ranch program, providing structure, accountability, mentorship and fun for children who are struggling in life. Learn more about the role of Program Assistants at Eagle Ranch by clicking here

Cory’s story is one of many children’s stories from Eagle Ranch. Your support goes toward providing a home, counseling, education and spiritual guidance to children in crisis. Consider making a gift at EagleRanch.org/GIVE