To Be Loved...

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Epilogue

Five Years Later ~ May 1, 2026

It was mid-afternoon on our 5th wedding anniversary. Jake was still at work, but was supposed to be coming home early as we were going out to celebrate tonight, while Connie watched the kids. Yes, I said kids.

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Hope was just over two years old when we had her little sister, Haley Jean on December 12th of 2023. Jake really wanted a boy, so we tried again and I delivered our son, Kayden Jake just a couple of months ago on March 1st.

Hope is in pre-school and starts 4K in the fall. Our routine each weekday is this: we wake up early, depending on how long Kayden lets me sleep, we brush our teeth and get dressed, have breakfast, take Hope to school, we come home for a morning nap, play time, pick up Hope from school, have lunch, take a nap, play time, daddy comes home, we have dinner, get a bath and get ready for bed where we read a story and give goodnight kisses and hugs. Weekends are not planned at all, however, we try to keep nap times routine.

When I was pregnant with Haley, we decided that I would be a stay-at-home mom, however, I did make a few of my dreams come true. After Hope was born, I took classes and studied for my GED and passed. Over the next couple of years, I did online college classes and got an Associate’s Degree in Human Services with a Social Service and Counseling emphasis. I’ve continued taking classes as I’m able to hopefully get a Bachelor’s and a possible Master’s Degree in Social Work in the future.

I finally convinced Jake to buy a house and we settled in the suburbs not too far from Connie. It was a four bedroom house with a bathroom in each bedroom on the second floor level. The main level included a living room, family room, formal dining room, an office/den, a large modern kitchen with a breakfast nook, a half-bath and laundry room and was attached to a two-car garage. The lower level was finished and was currently used for a gym, second office, play room and there is another room that has been turned into a guest room with a full bathroom.

With Jake’s help, I started a Foundation to assist young women who have been abused or trafficked as I was in reconnecting with the world around them, finding them support services and finding their families. It has been very rewarding and we have helped hundreds of girls in the last three years that this has been operating. We typically hold an annual fundraising event on the Saturday following the 1st of May, which was the day my life was saved.

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We had all just woken up from our afternoon naps and I just finished feeding Kayden. I had all the kids in my bed as I was getting my outfit ready for tonight, when Hope asked to hold her little brother. She was lying on my pillow, so I laid him on her chest and tummy and told her to carefully wrap her arms around him so he didn’t fall off. When I went to grab my phone to take a picture, I turned around to see Haley snuggled up to Hope with a big smile on both of their faces. It was picture perfect: my three beautiful babies.

It was after 5:00 and Jake still wasn’t home yet. I heard a knock on the door and opened it to see Connie here to watch the kids.

“Hey Connie, come on in,” I opened the door for her to enter.

“Hey sweetie,” she gave me a hug. “Happy Anniversary!”

“Gramma, Gramma,” Hope and Haley came running to her and scooped them both up in her arms.

“How are my precious babies?” she asked.

“Good,” the both replied.

Kayden was in the swing and Connie took the girls into the family room to watch him. “Mom, I have hot dogs and macaroni and cheese for dinner tonight, if that is alright with you.”

“Of course dear, I know the girls like that. Where is Jake?” she asked.

“I don’t know, I thought he would have been here by now as our reservations are for 6:30.” I went and checked my phone for the hundredth time to make sure I didn’t miss any messages from him. This time there was one, it read “Hey beautiful. Sorry I’m running late, but had a minor emergency to take care of, before I could leave. I should be home shortly. Love you, Jake.”

I decided to get dressed and grab my bag, phone and keys and wait with the kids until he arrived. “He is on his way,” I told Connie. “He had something to take care of at work, but should be here any minute.”

I heard the door open just after saying that. “Daddy! Daddy!” The girls ran to Jake and he bent down and gave them both kisses all over their faces and they laughed. He got up carrying Haley as he came into the family room with Hope following him.

“Sorry I’m late babe. Hi Mom,” he gave her a hug and me a kiss. “Are you ready to go?” I nodded and said goodbye to the girls and told them to be good for Grandma and then kissed Kayden on his head.

“Happy Anniversary to the both of you. The kids will be fine tonight, so go out and have fun.”

“Thanks Mom,” we both replied and left the house together.

We got to the car and I was about to enter, Jake turned me to face him and gave me a big kiss, “Happy Anniversary baby, I love you so much!”

“I love you, too Jake!” We kissed again before getting into the car and heading to the same restaurant we went to on our first real date.

We had a wonderful meal and a wonderful time together. We reminisced about our lives over the last five years, talked about the kids and talked a little bit about the fundraiser that was scheduled the next day. It was so good to finally have a night out alone and catch up with each other without have to carry on three conversations at once or eating cold fold because we had to help the girls first or being squished in bed as the girls joined us sometime in the night because they didn’t want to sleep in their own beds.

After dinner, we decided to stop by Lincoln Park where we used to live and go in our beginning days together since the restaurant was not too far from there. It was pretty deserted as the sky was getting cloudy and threatening rain. We walked around hand in hand and enjoyed our time together. Even though our lives were pretty chaotic right now, we both agreed that we wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

All of a sudden it started down pouring rain and there was no way we could get back to the car without getting wet. So we took our time and walked in the rain getting completely soaked in the process.

While we were walking, I noticed the part of the park that we would often sit and have a picnic or make-out back in the day and started walking over there, while Jake kept walking the path. He turned around and saw me and just watched me as he smiled thinking of the same memories that I was.

“Stacy! Come on, we should get going,” he said as he held his hand out for me.

I ran to him and he twirled me around, grabbed my face and pulled me in for a kiss. It was a perfect ending to a perfect evening. I couldn’t have asked for a better life since I found Jake...or since he found me.

THE END… A NEW CHAPTER OF LIFE BEGINS!

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