A Life Of Smiles

A Life of Smiles
Stormie....now there's a name. It aptly describes Stormie's life. Some background first. Stormie whose real name is Jacqueline Louise Payton, was my stepdaughter. She was born December 8, 1989.
Her life started out "stormy" at an early age. Her mother was not prepared to deal with her at that point in life so, Stormie was adopted by her paternal grandparents. Even though years later her mother straightened her life out and had another child, Stormie stayed with her grandparents until she was 18.
Stormie was diagnosed early with sickle cell anemia. I don't know how much you know about this disease but, there are a lot of painful episodes, transfusions and countless hospital stays. Stormie relied on faith to carry her through. She was deeply involved with church and her spiritual walk with God was evident. During the agonizingly painful episodes of the disease she would pray to Jesus. I don't mean just pray...she would scream at the top of her lungs to Jesus. That was the only way she could get through it, knowing that Jesus was there for her. I witnessed many of these episodes, carried her to the hospital several times.
Stormie came into my life when I married her mother, Angela. Stormie was already 17 and pretty much on her own. For the next several years she popped in and out of my life like a leaf in the wind. The longer I got to know her the deeper she dug into my heart. She was always asking me for something, mostly money but I couldn't resist her. She would smile and give me that lost puppy look and I would crumble. She had me wrapped around her finger.
The thing that always impressed me about her was her smile. It was hard to find her without a smile on her face. When she walked in with that radiance, that smile, everyone in the room was affected. You just felt better.
Stormie had a baby when she was about 18, a beautiful little girl named Mekeyla. The baby was a miniature copy of Stormie; she is an angel and the light of Stormie's life. I love that baby as if she was mine.
Stormie had many friends. With a personality like hers, how could anyone help but be her friend. Her friends would come over to the house and most of them became my friends. you may not think this too strange but, for a group of young black adults befriending a 50 something year old white guy is a testament to Stormie. Stormie was a catalyst. Wherever she was she brought people together. She would smile and we would all come together around her.
Stormie was separated from her boyfriend, Mekeyla's father, Marshon, and needed a place to stay. We let her move into a spare bedroom. She had been there for about six months and I was enjoying her company. We would chat on our laptops and laugh about things with people wondering why we were laughing. With her and Mekeyla, who was about 2 years old now there was always something happening. I enjoyed looking over and seeing her smiling as always while playing with her daughter. It gave me the feeling that life would work out, things would be alright. All I had to do was look at Stormie and let her smile wash away my pain.
The morning, November 15, 2011 started out normal. Stormie had some friends stay over in her room for the night, a usual occurrence. My wife Angela and her other daughter Amiya, 17, had gone out to give Amiya's boyfriend a ride to work. Stormie's guests had left. I was in my room on the computer trying to write something. As I said, a normal morning at my house.
After a while, I came out for a cup of coffee. I walked past Stormie's room and realized she was there, I thought I was alone in the house. I decide to yell at her to wake up. I wanted to give her a hard time for sleeping so late; it was around 11:00 a.m. I yelled to her, no response. I thought she must really be out of it. I went closer and yelled again, no response. I looked closer, something didn't seem right, a lump came to my throat. I went to the bed to shake her. As soon as I touched her my heart stood still. She was cold as ice. My mind knew but my heart refused to believe this could be real. I just starting saying, no...no ...no... I felt for a pulse, checked for breathing, nothing. I grabbed a phone and called 911. While I talked with them I was giving CPR and rescue breathing to her. I was really wishing I wasn't alone. I desperately wanted someone to be there. I kept doing CPR and talking with 911 when her mother and sister returned home. The first thing they saw was me doing CPR on Stormie. Everything kind of went into overdrive, a blur after that. Her mother, Angela, helped me with CPR until the medics showed up. Like earlier my head knew she was gone but my heart would not accept it.
The medics transported her to the hospital, we followed. Several of the family members met us there and we were ushered to a private waiting room. A short while later they came and told us she was dead. Stormie was gone......the world grew a little colder, life changed.
Whenever I get depressed I think of Stormie. I think of how through all the adversity she faced in her short life, the smile never left her face. I remember, I smile. Thank you Stormie. I love you baby, smile on......your Stepdad.......
121054a 121054a
56-60, M
May 8, 2012