Sabrina Stevens of Dundalk, MD

Picture of winner's bracelet.
I have always admired charm bracelets, but never actually had one of my own. After a lot of thought, I decided my first charm bracelet should tell the story of my journey into adulthood. A journey that many people told me would end badly, I am pleased to say my story has a good ending. My story begins when I was eighteen years old, and I had just graduated high school. I was a bit wild and completely carefree. I was a cashier at a local grocery store and it was at this store that I met Bill. The classic moment when boy meets girl and couldn't part until they knew when they would see each other again. I chose the Grocery Cart (#2989) to represent that day. Bill and I clicked right away and became great friends very quickly. A few months later we took a trip to an amusement park for our first date. That was where we shared our first kiss, (I definitely saw fireworks!) and started our Roller Coaster (#7791) ride of life. For the next two years we were stuck in the up then down position, as our relationship endured many struggles. Then our roller coaster sped up and threw us into a loop. This was the day we changed, the day our entire lives changed, the day we discovered we were having a baby. I was so terrified and excited, at the same time. I chose the Two Hearts (#4512) to symbolize the day Bill's and mine hearts came together and became forever bound. Some of our family took the news well, however some did not and I eventually learned how to fade out the negativity. A few short months later Bill surprised me with a stuffed Unicorn (#5541) (I have collected anything and everything unicorn related for pretty much my entire life!) But there was something different about this one; there was an engagement ring on its horn! Of course I said yes and we decided to get married shortly after the baby was due, on the anniversary of our first date. Time seemed to fly by as we got our first apartment, planned a wedding, and prepared for the baby. In what seemed like no time at all, we welcomed Colin, our son. For Colin I chose the Heart Birthstone – July (#8350). I remember when I first held him, we locked eyes and instantly nothing else in the world mattered but him. He had his daddy's beautiful red hair and his mommy's green/ brown eyes. Two short months later, Bill and I got married in the same church as my grandparents and my parents did. It followed with an amazing reception filled with great food, an awesome DJ, amazing family and friends. There was still negativity, however I was the happiest woman in the world and no one would take that away from me. My favorite part was the Wedding Cake (#8165), my aunt made for us. It had ten heart shaped tiers with a working fountain in the middle. I believe the first few years of marriage are the hardest; at least they were for us. It seemed like we were back in the roller coaster stuck in the up then down position, again. Then the roller coaster came to a screeching halt; actually everything around me seemed to stop. This was the day our four-year-old son was diagnosed with autism. The Puzzle Piece (#2479) is the symbol for autism and I understand why. It felt like Colin was a puzzle, like we had to find and put together all of the pieces. After a lot of research, help and support from teachers, therapists, family, Bill, and I, Colin started coming together. He still had a long road ahead of him but you could tell he was taking it one step at a time. Shortly after Colin's diagnosis, our roller coaster started back up and threw us into another loop; we discovered we were having another baby. I was terrified and excited at the same time again. We spent nine months preparing ourselves and Colin for how different things were going to be. Then, in what seemed like a blink of an eye, we welcomed Kaiden, our second son. For him I chose the Heart Birthstone – August (#8350). He looked just like Colin, but Kaiden had my auburn hair and Bill's hazel eyes. The first couple months were very hard. But once Kaiden could sit up, him and Colin were best friends. They weren’t the only ones who strengthened their bonds. Bill and I became closer then we ever have before Best friends (#8447) and so much more. I am now twenty-eight years old, Colin is seven, and Kaiden is two. It has been ten years since our first rides on the roller coaster and seven years since we said our vows. Colin has come a very long way and still continues to amaze us everyday. He is a great big brother, he has taught Kaiden to count, read some small words, and many other things. At this point in Bill's and mine relationship, I feel like we finally got off the roller coaster. Now we are sitting back and relaxing on the Carousel (#3345). But who knows maybe one day we will go through another loop on the roller coaster of life.

Sabrina Stevens
Dundalk, Maryland

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