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Dedicated to Patrick Smith
Submitted by Dena
I ran away when I was 12, and didn't have much trust or love left in me. I think it had been driven out of me. I learned to run fast and far at a young age. I am convinced it was detrimental to my survival. My life eventually spiraled into one of alcoholism and misery. I lived on the streets and survived any way a child could. It seemed I was just waiting to die and not living at all, but just trying to exist unharmed.
One day I was hitching a ride in Tennessee. I was 23, and a kind stranger in a pickup stopped and offered a ride. He asked for nothing, except to offer help. I was so weary and tired of fighting for survival, and all I wanted to do was crawl into a dark place and hide. I didn't know it then, but that day would change my life. My knight in shining amour saw something in me, when all I could see was devastation.
My husband and I have been together 13 years, and I have been sober for 10. I'm a sophomore in college studying nursing, with a 4.0 grade point average. I have 2 beautiful stepchildren whom I love more than life itself, and I know what it is like to be unconditionally loved.
Many times in my life I cried out in anger at a God I knew existed but thought had no interest in me. But now I realize that every road I traveled, no matter how dark or lonely, led me to where I am today. There are no more holes in my heart, and I am healed. I only hope that someday I can help someone as much as I have been helped.
I used to have horrible nightmares about my past experiences, to the point that I used to wake up in the night shrieking and in a cold sweat. My husband comforted me and gave me hope. I had no strength so he let me lean on him. Through the years the nightmares have faded. I always knew that there were monsters in the world, but now I know there are angels too.
There is no way I can repay this man for the kindness he has shown me. I have no money, and because of childhood injuries I can't have children. But, the one thing I have regained is my ability to love and he has my heart forever.
When we married, we never had a honeymoon. My anniversary is February 13th and what a big surprise it would be for me to win this for the man I love. I know it is a lot to hope for, but going to Hawaii would sure be a wonderful holiday for us. It is something we could never afford on our own. I thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and am sure whomever you choose will have a wonderful time.