Cindi's Story ""Love You to Heaven and Back""

I have walked a bumpy path but keep pulling strength to continue on. I was in an abusive marriage for fifteen years with three beautiful children. I wanted my kids to know what a loving home was so made the decision to move on. I lived as a single mom, and while it wasn’t always easy my kids love kept me going.

I completed college at age 51 after moving my family from the east coast to MO. During that time, I became caregiver to first my Dad who had congestive heart disease. He passed and five months later my Mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 Chemo resistant Ovarian Cancer. I was with her every step of the way but found out through all this journey my youngest son Craig was battling drug addiction. So between chemo and rehabs I kept moving forward out of love for my family.

Craig was a typical young man of today believing he was invincible and his brothers always had his back. I never stopped believing he could beat his demons through all the ups and downs. Then, my mom lost her battle to cancer in 2013, and my world was rocked again. But that was just the beginning.

In January, 2014, I got the knock on my door no parent ever wants to answer. The police were here to tell me my son Craig had died of suspicious circumstances although they knew drugs were involved. My heart broke into a million pieces and I didn’t think I could do this. But I still had two other children, my granddaughter and fiance who needed me as much as I needed them.

The first year after losing a child you are numb and just live going through the motions. During that time I returned to the one thing I knew brought me great comfort, my art. I created a Facebook page called, "Love You to Heaven and Back", that I could share my art work with in hopes I could help raise awareness of the epidemic in our community drugs were causing.

For any parent who has lost a child I would say only you can decide how or for how long you grieve as we each travel this journey uniquely. Give yourself plenty of time and understand it truly doesn't get easier, but it does get different.

As for silver lining I'm not sure I've found one yet, although before I questioned why God took my son...... now I believe God caught him when he fell. I have learned to truly treasure EVERY moment you have with your loved ones because tomorrow is not promised. I go forward for my other children and because I know that's what Craig would want. I even made a conscious decision to have weight loss surgery 11 months later and have lost close to 150 lbs. To be a healthier me, first for myself but also my family and friends. Life's journey is amazing and I keep getting back on with each high and low.