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Living through grief

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Walter and Cynthia Moreland

Keisha Mangum is newly married to her high school sweetheart.  A large photograph of the happy couple basking in the glow of marital bliss hangs prominently in her den. 

The room is freshly painted since the last time we visited.  A warm peach color covers most of the walls accented by a light-brown textured paint just below the chair rails. 

Everything in her living room in perfect order, furniture, throw pillows,  candles and framed pictures. 

But beneath Mangum's megawatt smile and her blushing bride exterior, there is a sorrow that few people ever know. 

Her mother, Cynthia Moreland, was kidnapped, raped and murdered in August 2006.  She was abducted from a Raleigh parking garage while on her way to her job at Progress Energy.

I admire several framed pictures of her mother that I had not seen before, despite covering the case since the beginning.

"I wish you could have met her," Keisha says catching my eyes wandering to her mantle where the pictures sit.  "She was something."

Indeed everyone who talks about Cynthia Moreland describes her as a beautiful person inside and out. 

Mangum misses the little things, like having her mother help her plan her wedding, or having her mother present on what she counts as one of the most important days of her life. 

They decorated a chair for Cynthia at the reception and put roses on the seat where the mother-of-the-bride should have been sitting, beaming at her beautiful daughter.

Mangum still has good memories of that day – the best one, her father Walter Moreland danced, yes danced, despite the pain he experienced losing the love of his life, his best friend. 

Mangum smiles when she recalls this small victory for a family enduring the rigors of grief.   They are facing the journey one small step at a time ...

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