Friday, September 27, 2013


Many people interpret YOLO, “You only live once,” as a reason to go out with a blast. Yes, although we only live once we can choose healthier and safer ways to “kick the bucket.” There are numerous things that I would like to do before I die, but I only chose a few things that are most important to me.

I have grown up in and out of the foster care system. I have been abused mentally, emotionally, and sexually, but somehow I continue to push myself forward. I have been placed with several families and lived in two group homes. I have seen and experienced things that I pray no other child has. With my mom being the Ouachita County CALL (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime) Coordinator I am able to attend some of the meetings and hear her talk about children in care. I am beyond blessed to be a part of the Keithley family and to be the first in biological family to pursue a post-secondary education. Even though I have been through hell, I am still going! One day before I depart from this world I want to be able to stand and tell my life story to others, more importantly the youth, because I believe it will affect their lives. I want to be an advocate so that youth in care get the tools that they need to better their lives and themselves. I want to be an example so that I can show youth that they too can overcome obstacles and, hopefully, go to college. I want to make a difference so that we as foster youth can beat the statistics and break the chains of our families. Just as Mandy Hale once said: “Change starts with YOU. When you step up, you invite others to step up, too.” I am willing to step up and start a chain-reaction.

Another thing that I would like to do before I die is love myself. My self-esteem is very low, and I’m really bad at putting myself down. People are always telling me how cute and beautiful I am, but sometimes I do not see what they see…I just see a girl with a horrible smile, crooked teeth, fat, and not worth anything. I hate looking in mirrors because I have to look at myself. There is a list of things that I hate about myself.

I would like to be adopted by the Keithleys before I die. Since I have been with the Keithleys, I have grown to love them like my real momma and daddy. I call Mrs. Louise momma but I do not call Mr. DJ daddy. I did not get along with my dad and had very little respect for him. There are times though when I do want to call him daddy but I don’t want it to feel awkward. They love me, care about me, and support me a lot more than my momma and daddy ever did. Benjamin, Caedmon, and Eleanor are my brothers and sister, and I would do anything for them. I have this sense of security here with the Keithleys that I have never felt before, and it is a safe home so I do not have to worry or fear. I know I am their daughter, but I want them to be my permanent and forever family. They are always going to be my parents no matter where I go, and the Keithley kids will always be my siblings.

I want to have a Biblical marriage. My biological mom and dad just recently married. They have been together for 25 years, and when questioned about their relationship, they answer with “Common Law Marriage”. I strongly believe that it does not matter how the government defines marriage, because whatever is in the Bible is what is correct.

When the timing is right, I want to have two kids. I would prefer a boy and a girl, but I know it does not work like that. I love kids and I love being around them, and having two of my own would rock my world. I will give them the love that I did not get from my parents and let them know every day how special they are to me.

More than anything else on my bucket list, I want to be successful. Neither of my parents graduated from high school, so the only kind of jobs they were able to get were maintenance, fast food restaurant jobs, and jobs working at ConAgra. Money was scarce and very limited. Most days we had sandwiches for lunch and chicken served with a side for dinner. Sometimes we ate whatever we could find in the kitchen. Every now and then both my parents would find vehicles to wash and from that money we would go buy pizza or something. I do not want to be like my parents; instead I want to get a good job so I can support my family. I want to be successful so that my family has what they need, and they are not dependent on a check or money from the government to feed them.

I would really love to meet Britt Nicole! Depression, for me, started at an early age, but it hit me hardest when I was fifteen. I hated being at home and every chance I got to leave the house I immediately jumped on it. Most times when I left home, I would go to my best friend’s house and hang out there. Audrey and I connected at the age of six when her mom and dad became the new pastor and pastor’s wife of our church. Audrey’s mom, Mrs. Jackie, was one of the ladies whom I told my sexual abuse to. Since then, they have also become my family. I lived at her house just about as much as I lived at home. Mrs. Jackie and Audrey know my story very well. I spent my sixteenth birthday with them, and Audrey posted a video on my Facebook page by Britt Nicole. The song was called “When She Cries” and it is about a girl who cuts and feel like no one is there for her, does not love her, and never hears her cries for help. Then the song switches to let her know that God hears her and loves her and that He will always be there for her when no one else will. That song stopped me from doing something stupid that night. I would like to meet Britt Nicole to tell her how much her song changed me and stopped me from cutting.

It would be really awesome to be able to go to a Celtics game! I only like two players from the team, but I still love them! I love everything about basketball!

The last thing on my list is to go to the beach. Every summer I see pictures from the beach. I have always wanted to go the beach. I think the closest I have ever come to a beach is Lake DeGray. It is pitiful. I just want to go to the beach and watch the sun go down. I would also like to run across the shore barefooted, look for starfish, collect seashells, and have a great time!

There are many things I could have included in this essay, but I chose the top most important things. Some are for fun and then there are those on my list that deal with relationships, self-development, and are very internal. I hope I live long enough to fulfill my bucket list. If I am not able to do everything on my bucket list I will be satisfied knowing I got to do a few of them!

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