A warrior’s life cut short
Cey was extraordinary. She was loving, fun to be around, and often silly. She was outdoorsy, artsy and loved hanging out with her dad, Mike; it devastated her to lose him when she was 22. She adored her dog, Bud, and all animals, and even rescued a baby skunk and fed it formula. Cey was all tomboy until her teens.
Cey and her older sister Cassie were close and spent summers with their dad, flying to where he was working. One time, when their mother, Tina, took them to the airport to catch their flight, she kissed them goodbye and left. Suddenly, she heard “Mommy!” and there was Cey, returning to give her one more hug. “That memory comforts me,” her mom stated.
Cey never lost her passion for animals. For years, she considered being a vet or a chef. As a young child, she preferred learning to cook from Emeril over watching Barney the dinosaur on television. At 9, she was given an Emeril cookbook and counted it as the best gift ever. The family spent a special Christmas in Puerto Rico when Cey was six. They did everything possible on the island, including horseback riding through the jungle as monkeys flew from the trees. “Cey adapted to it all like the little warrior she was,” Tina said.
Cey was a protector of the underdog, and many times intervened when someone was bullying others. When she was 12, her mom was called to her school after Cey was involved in a fight with 5 girls. They were making fun of another girl who wore a wig because of cancer and Cey stuck up for her. The girl ended up committing suicide that weekend. Cey was shattered.
Cey had anxiety and ADHD and struggled in large settings. After being placed in a private school with only six students in her class, she did better, but catching up was hard. She was eventually home-schooled and did her work online, which helped. She trained as a Chef at BOCES – the Board of Education Cooperative Services.
Cey’s son, Asher, now 8, and daughter, Ella, 5, were her everything in life. She was a wonderful mom, patiently playing with them for hours. Because of her illness, her children were temporary with their paternal grandmother. Cey’s goal was to provide a safe and loving home for them again.
The last time Tina was with her daughter, Cey was going back to New York for a week. They had a movie night together cuddled up on the couch with popcorn and brownies. Tina is grateful for that wonderful time together as Cey never made it back from that trip.
Her mom said, “Drugs killed her spirit, her fight.” She would lie and steal and find herself in a dark world she couldn’t escape from. The roller coaster ride, the drama, heartache, and hospital stays were so much to cope with. Tina says, “it is hard to find joy in life now.” She has researched addiction and knows how strong and relentless its grip can be on people. She misses her daughter’s smile, laughter, stories, and daily texts, but most of all, the future that Cey and the family will never share.
Ceyanna’s mother, Tina Jones-Leiby, provided the information for this narrative.
June 25, 1993-December 30, 2019
Age 26-Lived with the disease of addiction 4 years