After losing her only child, Cynthia Mitchell began a long quest to do what seems impossible.
“When Bre left, I had to find her,” the Everett woman said. “Unless I could prove beyond faith that she existed, I couldn’t find a purpose in life.”
Breana Langan was a 29-year-old wife and mother when she died April 30, 2006. In 2002, the Everett High School graduate married Ben Langan, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, and the couple had a 5-month-old son, Owen.
The young woman had health problems before and after Owen’s birth, and her mother said in a 2007 Herald interview that “she went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up.”
“I don’t want to call it death,” Mitchell said. “It’s our eternal life,” she said in a conversation Friday on the deck of her home near Howarth Park.
Nine years after her family’s tragedy, Mitchell has published a book, “When You Think About It: A Fact-finding Journey to Discover My Daughter’s Eternal Home, and the Knowledge I Wish I Had While Raising Her.”
It’s not a primer on grief. Readers won’t find 10 steps to getting past loss. There are chapters on religion and God, near-death experience and reincarnation, and raising a spiritual child — but also on science and quantum theory.
Faith is what started Mitchell’s journey of writing the book, but her search led her to science. In the back of her book, Mitchell lists many sources, among them “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton and “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” by Francis Collins, along with books about mediums and the afterlife.
“I read profusely, constantly,” she said. After Breana died, she said, “I couldn’t survive without a book in my hand.”
At about 150 pages, her book offers the briefest glimpse at quantum physics, along with thoughts and memories of her daughter. She explores the topic of energy in the universe, and she writes that she believes God “is the energy of the universe … and the mastermind behind our existence.”
“I believe science and God are on the same page,” Mitchell said. “We’re not just this physical being that decays and dies. What is eternal is the energy in all that. That’s who Breana is.”
As her book’s title suggests, it is something to think about.
Mitchell is the longtime owner of BreCyn Salon, a hair salon near Everett Mall named in part for her daughter. At 66, she works as a stylist several days a week. Breana’s father, divorced from Mitchell years ago, is Dewey McCandlis. A former salon owner, McCandlis and his wife, Lindalee, operated Pacific Wine &Kitchen shop in Everett for many years.
Ben Langan still lives in the area, and Mitchell said she remains involved in her grandson’s life. Owen is 9 now.
It’s in the chapter titled “Raising a Spiritual Child” that Mitchell gives some advice: “I always felt Bre was a gift. I don’t think she really understood just how wonderful I thought she was. Because, guess what — I didn’t tell her. I just assumed she knew. Don’t make that mistake.”
Mitchell believes her daughter is with her, always. And the greatest loss imaginable taught her what matters.
“The worst thing that could happen to me happened when I lost Bre. It put into perspective all the things I thought were so important,” she writes. “Love is all there is.”
On Friday, outside on a bright morning, Mitchell recalled having a real sense of her daughter’s presence when the book was published. The lovely young woman is pictured on the cover. “Seriously, I felt her laughing,” Mitchell said. “I could just hear her say, ‘Oh Mom, good for you.’?”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the book
Cynthia Mitchell’s book “When You Think About It” is available ($9.99 paperback, $21.99 hardback) online at: www.afactfindingjourney.com.