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A family’s journey through grief

A family’s journey through grief
Tesi Pugh and her family have turned their grief over the death of her son, Alex, to work for good, establishing a scholarship fund and a website in tribute to his memory.

To Tesi Pugh and her family, her son, Alexander John-Cade Pugh, was “promoted” to Heaven Feb. 28, 2008, when he tragically lost his life in a traffic accident on U.S. 87 just outside La Vernia.

The church was packed the day of Alex’s funeral, people shoulder-to-shoulder, young and old, all touched by his untimely death.

“Every time one of those kids got up to speak at his funeral, it was like putting a Band-Aid on my heart,” Tesi recalled.

As the kids spoke, Tesi’s husband, Coby, leaned over and whispered, ’We have some mighty big shoes to fill.”

She agreed.

“It was evident Alex lived a Matthew 5:16 life,” Tesi said. “Always allowing the light of Christ beam right through him. Even as a small child, people were drawn to him, never quite figuring out what was so intoxicating.”

As is the custom, people dropped by the Pugh home and tried their best to console the family. Instead, Tesi consoled them, displaying remarkable strength.

Afterward, though, Alex’s younger brother, Hayden 11 at the time saw that his mother was despondent.

“He took my face in his two hands and told me, ’Mom, if you don’t stop thinking about what happened to him instead of where he is, you aren’t going to be okay,’” Tesi said. “He saved my life. He brought me back.”

After the service Tesi thought about the checks that people had left on the table and countertop. Her neighbor suggested they start a scholarship with the money. The family established a scholarship fund for graduating seniors from La Vernia High school.

The Alexander John-Cade Pugh Memorial Scholarship is awarded to seniors, based on creative writing entries such as poetry, stories, songs, and other writing. Alex was a writer; much of his writing and poems talked about angels. To date, the family has blessed 15 students with scholarships, totaling nearly $50,000.

“We do not do this alone,” Tesi said, crediting the community, friends, and family. They hold annual fund-raisers to benefit the scholarship fund. One fundraising effort is a Celtic Highlights Calendar featuring photographs the family has taken on trips to Ireland and Scotland Alex’s favorite places on earth. Their main fund-raiser is a “Rise and Shine 5K Walk/Run.” This year’s event is

Saturday, March 15, starting at La Vernia High School at 8:30 a.m. Register soon at

The scholarship fund is just one testament to how Alex’s life has touched others. Tesi also started a website,, based on a vision God revealed to her. In her welcome to visitors to the site, Tesi says, “Thank you for visiting Trials and Testimonies. No matter the trial you are facing, may you feel God’s love, experience His healing, and leave here with a sense of hope.”

On the website, Tesi shares a dream she had in a video clip, “Promoted.” She dreamed she had asked God repeatedly to give Alex back to her. Finally, God relented and let her go to heaven to get him. Arriving there, she saw Alex surrounded by children and she saw such beauty and joy that when the time came to take him back home, Tesi couldn’t. To bring him back meant that he would have to die twice.

She felt so badly and guilty about not bringing him back home when she was given the opportunity, that she couldn’t bring herself to tell many people about the dream. Now, Tesi shares her dream with people around the world.

The website’s tracker indicates it’s been viewed in 19 countries around the world. “Promoted” has been seen by people in Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, Scotland, South Korea, and Ireland. It was watched in Joplin, Mo., after the tornado in 2011.

“I don’t want people to see this as something you will never get through. You have to see this from a heavenly perspective,” Tesi said. “After the dream, I became more heavenly minded. Thinking more about what God had done for Alex, and less about what had been done to us. And it was that vision of Alex and the uninterrupted joy I experienced, in my spirit, that advanced my healing.”

She is working with a movie producer to bring her dream to the big screen.

Tesi doesn’t feel she has done anything special.

She asked God, “Let me carry their pain,” when other parents lose their children, but she said God’s answer is, “But then they would not learn anything.”

“As mad as I was [about Alex’s death], I kept turning back to Him, because I knew that He knew my pain,” Tesi said. “He knows all about suffering, because He gave up His only Son.”

Tesi said, “I told God that if I have to stay one minute longer, don’t let it be for nothing. Use me. The greatest thing I can do for God is to point them in His direction and reflect some of the love He has shown me. He doesn’t have favorites. It’s offered for everyone.”

About her journey through grief, she said, “The second year, you have to start moving forward and it feels wrong. There’s a sense of abandonment.”

But God gave her peace.

“Alex is in my future,” she said, with conviction. “He’s so far in my future that I have to keep moving towards him. You are not leaving them behind, you are moving toward them.”

“This is his story,” Tesi emphasized. “It’s pretty incredible to watch His work. I would give it all up in a heartbeat to have him back.”

She praises her husband, Coby for his strong support and great love, in helping her through this journey. And Tesi is full of praise for the community.

“It is unfortunate that we met under these circumstances but I am grateful just the same,” she said.

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