“I Want To Live” by John Denver.
Keisha was always a “different” child. As a she could not hold her head up, sit up, crawl or walk when she was
developmentally supposed to. Her mother was afraid she would be raising a handicapped child but her father believed Keisha would do what she was supposed to do in her own time.
Sure enough Keisha did sit up, crawl, walk and everything else expected of her. There was no money to have her evaluated by doctors so her parents did the best they could.
In school, it became apparent something was not right. Still there were no measurable tests and Keisha remained quiet, frightened of her surroundings when the teacher left the room and easily frustrated when she couldn’t do what her peers had no trouble doing.
There were many tears due to classmates picking on her, family calling her “stupid retard” and saying they were embarassed to admit they were related to her because of the way she ran. Her first grade teacher called her “lazy bag of bones” since she lacked the physical coordination necessary in physical education classes and was naturally overweight.
By the time she reached junior high, Keisha was being taunted in sexual ways, hit over the head repeatedly with items used to inflict great pain and was threatened violence by her classmates. The teasing was so bad she could not even tell her parents. Keisha merely went through each day clinging to the few people who were respectful to her. Those who were nice to her gave her the hope that maybe she wasn’t as bad as others made her feel.
One day the teasing reached its pinnacle. She seriously thought about jumping out the third floor window so her classmates would understand how deeply they hurt her. An “inner voice” told her not to do it that it would make her parents sad. Also her grandma lived across the street.
Not long after that critical day Keisha got a John Denver record with the song “I Want To Live”. Studying the lyrics she realised she too had something to share to help make the world a better place. She learned to speak from the heart, see from the heart and live from the heart.
Even though Keisha was a mediocre student she joined the choir and found out she had a beautiful voice. She also realised she could express herself through writing. Ten years following graduation from high school she started college and eventually graduated with high honors with a degree in human services. She was able to take the pain of her childhood and turn it into something positive. People began to believe in her. More importantly she began to believe in herself.
Now everyday is a gift. If she can make one person smile she feels her life mission has been fulfilled. Keisha learned to live, to grow, to see (with her heart), to know it was okay to be different, it was okay that she had multiple handicaps. She learned to share what was good with others , to be herself, to LIVE.