I continued volunteering at Hope’s school and I worked harder on college assignments. I filled out job applications daily. Hope and I attended church near our home. Near the beginning of November our church had a dinner. Hope and I went. During dinner a man sat down across from me. “So you go to Rose state?” He said referencing to my T shirt. I was annoyed by him. He didn’t even introduce himself. I was kind, and talked to him anyway.
Hope and I started attending a life group later that month. We would go over to the home of other young people from the church. We would eat, play games, and have a bible study. The man from the dinner was there too. His name was Kevin. I looked forward to seeing him each month. I had no intentions of dating him. I didn’t want to date anyone. I was done with men forever. I also felt even if I did want to date, I wasn’t good enough for him. He seemed innocence and pure. He was magnetic though, I’d look forward to seeing him at church and during our life group. I couldn’t wait to say “hi” to him every month. I work hard and focused on my college courses. Christmas break came. Hope kept telling me she did want to go back to school. She said “Joey” the classroom bully would hit her. I listened to her talk about this child every day for a week. I believe two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m never the first to say violence is a solution. My child was not going to be bullied. She was not going to fear school. I finally told her “the next time Joey hits you; you are to hit him back as hard as you can”. I heard her later in her bedroom singing “I’m going to beat his ass!” I asked what she said. She told me she didn’t say anything. I told her not to say bad words. She returned to school at the beginning of January. I stayed in her classroom after signing her in. She walked up to Joey. She said “the next time you hit me, I will hit you back HARD!” both teachers looked at me surprised. I said “the day she does it, please let me know, she’ll be going for ice cream that day.” Joey never put his hands on her again.
In February she had breakfast with dad school. My grandfather went and ate with her in full uniform. That evening at home she caught me off guard. She said “my friends have dads, I don’t. Mom are you trying to find me a daddy?” I said “Jesus is your daddy”.
During March, a group of children ran up to me in a church. A little girl asked “how did a coyote get Hope’s leg?!?” The children were terrified. Hope that it was hilarious. I reminded her she should be honest with others. I told her scaring her friends was not nice.
On Easter Sunday 2011 I was invited to go play board games with three women from church. Hope and I had a great time with them, laughing and playing games. Hope and I got home late. Right after I got Hope to bed for the night my phone alerted me of a text message. The text was from Stephanie. One of the ladies I played board games with.
Stephanie: what do you think of my cousin Kevin from life groups?
Stormi: what do you mean?
Stephanie: I was thinking y’all could be friends and see where it goes?
Stormi: why? Is he interested?
Stephanie: yeah, he wants to be your friend.
Stephanie asked if I would go to dinner with her, her husband, Kevin, and another couple a few days later. I really didn’t want to. I was so turned off to the idea of. I made excuses as to why I couldn’t go. Stephanie had a solution for every excuse. I couldn’t get out of it. On April 25, 2011, we went to Fratelli’s in Shawnee, Oklahoma for dinner. Kevin showed up an hour late. He sat down in the chair across from me. I made the comment that I would like to get Hope into Bethel school district in the future. Kevin said “oh yeah? I went there K through 12?” I told him I went there for one year in the fifth grade. He asked what year I graduated. We graduated the same year. He said he wondered if I was in his fifth grade yearbook. We went to a movie after dinner. I cannot for the life of me remember what movie we saw. Kevin and I didn’t even watch the movie. Instead, we talked the entire time. When I arrived home, I realized I didn’t give Kevin my phone number. I texted Stephanie and told her she could give him my phone number if he wanted it. Half an hour later Kevin texted me. He texted a photo of us in his fifth grade yearbook. Two days later, Stephanie suggested we all go have frozen yogurt after church. The four of us (Kevin, Stephanie, Hope, and I) sat there so long. The employees were cleaning tables, mopping floors, and stacking chairs. They were literally closing around us. We all went out and sat in my car. Stephanie and Hope sat in the back seat. I decided right then, I was going to run Kevin off. I didn’t want to date anyone. I did want to risk getting attached to him and him leaving us like others had. I lit a cigarette. Then I started to speak. I listed off the things that would disqualify me as if it were a job interview.
-I’m not a virgin- obviously
-I have a tattoo
-I’m 26 and I have been married twice
-If I ever get serious with someone they are expected to be permanent for Hope too. Surely this would run him off! Stephanie sat in the back seat wishing I would stop.
Four days later Kevin asked if I wanted to come to lunch with him and a mutual friend. I met Kevin at a restaurant. Our mutual friend said something came up and she couldn’t come after we were already there. Kevin and I sat and talked for 3 hours in the restaurant.
Kevin began coming over to my house once or twice a week, 6 to 7 HRS in the evening. We sat on opposite couches and talked for three weeks.
May 23, 2011-I was standing at my stove cooking dinner with Kevin arrived. He spoke “Stephanie says if I want you to be my girlfriend and I have to ask you… So will you be my girlfriend?” I responded “of course”. I already knew I loved him.
Our days were always good. About a month after we began dating, officially; Kevin, Hope, and I were on my front porch. Out of nowhere, Hope said “hey Kevin, how about I call you daddy?” I held my breath. I knew that instant that his response would determine if our relationship was over or I would someday in marry him. Kevin smiled “of course you can.” Hope chose him. Kevin had never been married before and didn’t have any children. God equipped him to be my baby girl’s daddy. He was a natural. He’d get down in the floor and had tickle fights with her. He also guided and corrected her with love. He started coming over to our house every day. Hope deserved to have him there every day. I loved spending as much time with him as I could. Midnight was dreaded every night. Hope and I met Kevin’s family pretty early. We fit with every part of his family, like we were the missing puzzle piece. His family became ours. My grandma told me for years that I didn’t need a man. Anytime I mentioned a man, she would remind me of the garbage I was in the past. She would tell me that they wanted to use and abuse Hope and I. She was right! I picked the kind of men that needed saving somehow. They didn’t have a vehicle, they were jobless, and had outstanding debt I could pay. I took Kevin to meet my grandparents. They interacted with him very well. The conversation seemed to flow naturally without any restraint. My grandma called me the next day when she knew Kevin wouldn’t be around. She said “if you let that one go, I will kill you myself.” My man hating grandma became Kevin’s biggest fan. My family loved him. That made me love him more. Next paragraph hope participated in her first UCO endeavor games in June 2011. I only registered her for one short race. Hope doesn’t like loud noises. They used a cap gun to signal it was time for a race to begin. Hope was no longer excited for her race. Finally it was time for Hope to race. She stood at the start line with her hands over her ears. She was anticipating the sound of the cap gun. Kevin and I along with our family’s encouraged and tried to excite her. We cheered “you can do it Habi!”, “Hope, it’s about time the race!” “It’s gonna be okay.” “You’re gonna do good!”, “that’s our girl!”, “you got this Hope.” The gun went off. Hope that move, she was crying. The cap gun operator walked on to the track. Once in front of Hope she held both of Hope’s hands and helped her cross the start line. Hope walked slowly down the track upset. Midway down the track it happened… The other racers had already crossed the finish line minutes earlier. Hope took off! She ran! The crowd of hundreds of people exploded. The whistles, claps, and the yells were so loud! Kevin and I were a blubbering, snotty mask. Our faces were drenched in tears as she crossed the finish line. A fellow parent told us she remembered how emotional her daughter’s first race was for her and that it was perfectly normal, and OK to feel the way we did. We were so proud of Hope. She did it! She was the youngest and only participant within her classification. It did not matter she was the last to cross the finish line; she got her first gold medal for that race. With her heart and her determination, she earned it!
Hope’s first race