Pubdate: Sat, 20 Dec 2003
Source: Morganton News Herald, The (NC)
Copyright: 2003, Media General Inc.


MORGANTON -- Two years ago, drugs, money and her son were the only three 
things Cindy Hildebran really cared about.

She spent her days and nights constantly awake, strung out on drugs. She 
said she would lock herself in her room so her son, Luke Jenkins, who 
wasn't even 10 years old at the time, wouldn't see her get high.

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, was her drug of choice.

If she wasn't using, she was out selling it, pushing the drug onto anyone 
who would buy it.

It was the only lifestyle Hildebran said she had ever known, but living the 
way she did put her behind bars.

Rick Hasson, an investigator with the Burke County Narcotics Task Force, 
said he arrested Hildebran selling and using drugs.

"She was a hard person to deal with," Hasson said when he first arrested 
Hildebran about four years go. "It took three of us to get her down and put 
handcuffs on her and carry her to the car."

But the arrest didn't phase her, Hildebran said, and shortly after being 
released from jail she was back on drugs, using and selling.

On one occasion, Luke saw his mother standing in the bathroom getting high.

"When I saw her do that I thought, 'Why would my mom do that?'" Luke, who 
is now 13, said. "I just took off running. It was a sight to see. My heart 
stopped. It quit pumping. Everyone always talked about not doing drugs at 
school. I couldn't understand why my mom would do that. But I still loved her."

On another occasion, Luke remembers walking into his mother's bedroom and 
seeing her passed out on the bed with money and pills laying all over her 
and the bed.

Luke remembers visitors coming to see his mother throughout all hours of 
the night, staying only for a short while.

Luke also remembers his mom always having plenty of money to buy him gifts 
and other things.

"Who would want their parents doing dope and stuff?" Luke said. "Money 
isn't everything. I would rather have her love. You can't buy love."

Maybe the money couldn't buy Luke's love, but it could buy clothes, 
jewelry, cars and more drugs, Hildebran said, adding that in one week, as 
much as $20,000 in drugs and cash would pass through her hands.

Then, one day, Hildebran said she had a wake-up call.

"My father died," she said, and while sitting beside of her dying father 
she made a promise. "I promised him I would do better. I promised him I 
would do better for myself and for my son as he had done for me."

But shortly after making her promise to her then deceased father, and 
almost a year after she was arrested, Hasson arrested Hildebran again on 
drug charges.

But this time, things were different, Hasson said.

"I started seeing a change in Cindy," Hasson said. "It was like she was a 
different person. She asked me for help and about drug rehab. She was 
showing more concern for her surroundings, how her son was being brought up 
and what people around her thought of her. Before, it was my observation 
that she had no concern for anything except for drugs and money."

So Hasson made some phone calls and got Hildebran the help she asked for. 
She was on her way to turning her life around, she said.

Hildebran said seeing her father die, promising him she would straighten 
her life up, wanting the best for her son, and Hasson believing in her were 
the driving forces that pushed her to turn her life around.

"All I needed was someone to believe in me," Hildebran said. "No one had 
ever believed in me before. Rick believed in me. That meant so much to me."

Now, more than two years later, Hildebran has gone back to school at 
Western Piedmont Community College, is at the top of her class and works 
hard for any income she brings home at night.

She is starting her own online business, goes to school full time and on 
the weekends spends time with her son.

She has been sober for more than two years.

"She's changed a whole lot," Luke said. "We do stuff together now. She's 
turned to God and now she is a good woman. She stays away from drugs and I 
love her for that."

Changing her life wasn't an easy step for Hildebran.

"It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do," Hildebran said. "But I am 
so proud of myself. I don't miss that life. Anyone can straighten their 
life up. If I can do it, anyone can. All it takes is someone believing in you."

And every day, Hildebran said she is constantly reminded that God is 
watching over her.

"Every day I look at my son I feel blessed," Hildebran said with tears in 
her eyes. "He has stood by me this entire time and loved me. Just like God 
has done."

Luke said he looks forward to celebrating the holidays with his mother this 
year the way most families do.

"Me and my mom finally get to have a real Christmas together," Luke said. 
"She isn't doped up and fighting or leaving. She is staying. It was a long, 
hard road, but we did it together. If you were in my shoes, wouldn't you 
think she was the most amazing person? She is over amazing. She's my mom."
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart