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Thanksgiving Bittersweet for Moreland's Family

Posted November 23, 2006
Updated November 24, 2006

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— On a typical Thanksgiving, Cynthia Moreland would have slept late with her husband, had coffee, cooked up a storm, laughed and traded stories with relatives and friends.

This year, the food looks good and smells good at Keisha Moreland's house, but she says it is not as good as her mother's cooking.

"I miss her smile, her eyes, -- everything. Her food -- everything," Keisha says with tears in her eyes.

It's been exactly three months and one day since her mother was abducted from a downtown Raleigh parking garage. After an 11-day exhaustive search, authorities found her body behind an abandoned Harnett County house.

Shortly after her disappearance, Raleigh police arrested Antonio Chance and later charged him in connection with Moreland's death. He is awaiting trial at Raleigh's Central Prison.

But for now, Keisha and her father, Walter, will not think about how she died. They want to think about how she lived.

"We're taking it one day at a time, trying to get stronger, trying to put our faith in God," Walter says.

For him, the holiday brings back memories of so many Thanksgivings that he spent with his wife of more than two decades.

"We did everything together," Walter says. "She was like the glue that held everybody together."

His loss hasn't gotten any easier.

"It's hard knowing that she's not (here). It makes me sad," he says with a vacant look, like someone whose thoughts are a million miles away.

One thing that brings him solace is watching his family's home videos from vacations to Florida and Myrtle Beach. He recently transferred them to DVDs so he can watch them again and again.

In these videos, Cynthia Moreland is as her family chooses to remember her -- a vibrant woman with an infectious laugh, a radiant smile and a kind heart.

In these videos, she snuggles her only grandson, Devin, in bed, on a boat, in a chair. She chases him on the beach, smiling broadly at his wonderment and energy. She laughs aloud at his antics with his cousin -- so loud it drowns out all of the conversation in the room.

In these videos, Cynthia Moreland is alive to her family and always will be.

"She's somebody you would want to meet and have in your life forever," Keisha says. "(She was) a beautiful person inside and out."

"She gave her all and didn't ask anything in return," Walter adds.

He says one thing that was important to his wife was that he and his daughter be close and spend time together. In a strange way, Walter says, his wife's death has bonded father and daughter in grief and in shared memories that they now hold so dear to their hearts.

They hope others who knew her will do the same.

"I want them to remember Cynthia Moreland," Keisha says. "Just remember her."
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