Statesville resident Heather DuBose admits the past couple of years have been hard, very hard.
"We were best friends," said DuBose, "we did everything together. She was my biggest fan and my biggest supporter."
DuBose has struggled emotionally since the death of her mother, Denise Lee McCoy, who died of lung cancer in April 2011.
"Her passing devastated me. It took me down to a level I had never been my entire life," DuBose told WBTV.
Every year on May 4th, her mother's birthday, DuBose has released balloons with a special message attached, in an effort to find peace.
"That's my way to show her that she will never be forgotten," she said.
"My heart is full of pain from losing you, but full of love for having you in my life," part of the message she sent up this year read. "I hope that as you look down from heaven that you are proud of me. I know that I'm not close to being half the person you were, but I try to be just a small pinch!"
Last week, the pain of her mother's death hit a plateau.
"I was lying in bed one morning and I just felt like I couldn't go on. And I begged her. 'Mom please give me something, please show me a sign'," DuBose told WBTV.
Four days after her request, she got an email from a cousin asking her to call a Deputy Sheriff in Franklin County, Virginia.
Deputy Paul Crandall found the balloon, complete with Heather's now weather-worn note still visible on it.
Crandall went hunting on a whim one day after finishing his overnight patrol shift with the Sheriff's Office.
"I was up in the tree stand and I looked over my right shoulder. I saw it shining there when the sun hit it," Crandall said. "Soon as I picked it up I could tell it was a balloon."
WBTV's Kristen Hampton went to Rocky Mount, Virginia to visit Crandall at the same spot he found the balloon, deep in the woods.
The $1 Mylar heart-shaped balloon was pink when DuBose released it in May. The color has faded to silver now, but the writing is still readable.
So he went to Google and searched for any information he could find about Denise McCoy. He came across her obituary on the internet and saw family members listed.
That's when he decided to give her family a call.
"I thought they would want to hear about it and know about it. That it was found," he told WBTV. "Especially so far away."
Crandall's discovery means more to DuBose, she says, than words can ever describe.
"I have an angel four-hours away that I don't even know," DuBose said.
"She was very emotional. And she just kept thanking me and saying you just don't know what this means," Crandall said. "I believe, ultimately, in God and that he directs our paths and that he directs our every footstep."
So has DuBose found the peace that she was searching for?
"Yes," she said through tears as she wiped her eyes. "I have peace."
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