Kerri Bryant of Metairie, LA

My life has changed ever so much in the past year. Sometimes change is good, and sometimes it's bad. Either way, there is always a lesson learned. Here is my story... August 29, 2005 may have been a normal day for many people in this country. But for us, and millions of others, our lives would change forever.

My family and I were evacuated in Lake Charles anxiously awaiting for Hurricane Katrina to be said and gone. Little did we know it would bring a lifetime of memories, struggles and emotions that we will never forget. Like many others, we had to rebuild our home after the storm, and indeed, rebuild our lives.

I chose the first charm (#3570 Boy & Girl) to represent our daughter and son, who are the only ties that have probably kept us from falling apart. And small as it may seem, (#1790 Dachshund) for our little free spirit dachshund who gives them joy and something soft to cuddle whenever they need it. The fleur de lis (#1698 Fleur de Lis), of course, to represent New Orleans and the home that I have known my whole life. I even chose (#3956 Trailer), a trailer - wow, what horrid memories that brings! We lived in a trailer for several months while rebuilding our home. I can't even tell you what it was like to live with so many people. But, none-the-less, it's forever a part of our memories and we were blessed to have a roof over our heads. I chose a shovel (#3344 Shovel) to represent all the debris we had to clean up, and as a sign of our burying our old life. I also chose a butterfly (#3763 Butterfly) to represent change. We plan to relocate next year to another state and we welcome the change with open arms. I chose (#3263 Kissing Couple), a couple - to represent my husband and I, for without him I don't know where I would be. And for the forever gratitude to my extended family and to every single person who gave us strength, who welcomed us, who opened their hearts to us, I chose (#5592 Love), LOVE.

Finally, I couldn't end my story without choosing (#6486 Sun), a SUN. For sunshine follows every rain. Wondering where the tenth charm is? I didn't choose one. I want to leave that one open ended because I am looking forward to the future. I can't wait to see what it holds, and what charm I will be able to add as our journey continues.

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