12 April 2018

Spread out on a table in Kim Silverberg’s café are 100 photographs of smiling teenagers, children and babies.

Each one is an image of young person who is much missed and who died too soon.

Among them are portraits of a beautiful baby born sleeping, a laughing teenager who took her own life, and a little boy who died from cancer.

This is my way of keeping their memories alive.

Each photo tells the story of life that will never be forgotten. It forms an amazing Tree of Eternity mural in the the Cornerstone Coffee & Confections café in Troy, Missouri.

The cafe is a place that’s becoming known for its sweet treats and celebrating even sweeter memories.

Tree of Eternity
The Tree of Eternity celebrate the memory of hundreds of young lives

“This is my way of keeping their memories alive,” explains Kim, as she gently trims the edges of each photo to fit perfectly into a specially picked picture frame on the wall.

The framed photos are the newest leaves on Kim’s Tree of Eternity — a beautiful mural, which she designed and began decorating in memory of her daughter, Kelly.

“The Tree of Eternity celebrates the life of Kelly, and other young people just like her,” says Kim, whose beautiful 20-year old daughter took her own life in 2016.

“It is also a place for remembrance and reflection, of the love and light they all brought to this world.”

Kim's angel, daughter Kelly

“Losing Kelly hit me hard, and it pained me to see the world naturally continue on without her,” says Kim, who had such a close bond with her girl.

“Memories with my daughter will always be a part of the past, but the Tree of Eternity gives her a present time in this world. We used to love hanging out together, taking road trips, eating Thai food and shopping till we dropped.”

Beautiful, smiley Kelly

Underneath the beautiful Tree of Eternity is a little, white mail box. Inspired by the lyrics of the country song, Address in the Stars, Kim created it to ‘post’ the letters she’d write to Kelly, when she was thinking about and missing her.

“The mailbox is a way for me to send her letters whenever I desire. I also encourage other people to do the same, if they want to send their loved one a birthday card or a thinking-of-you note,” she smiles.

Address in the stars postbox
Address in the stars postbox

Writing to Kelly seemed natural to Kim, continuing a mother-daughter tradition she’d begun when her daughter was small.

I used to love sending her letters in her lunchbox.

“I used to love sending her letters in her lunchbox and would also leave her little notes around the house telling her how loved she was.”

After Kelly died, Kim discovered that she’d kept each and every one of the notes her mum had written. It meant so much for Kim to discover them as she packed up her daughter’s college dorm room.

Cornerstone Coffee & Confections
Cornerstone Coffee & Confections

Since it opened three years ago, Cornerstone Coffee & Confections has not only been dedicated to celebrating the memory of precious lives. It has also been investing all its profits to create a future for children in the developing world, who have had their own lives touched by bereavement.

The café’s opening has literally helped lay the foundations for a children’s medical centre in Uganda, to provide free healthcare for orphans and vulnerable youngsters.

Pastor Sam, Prossy, John and Kim
Kim, her husband John, Prossy and Pastor Sam

Drawing strength from their Christian faith, Kim and husband John have set up a charitable mission, Greater Love Ministries-Uganda. With profits from their cafe, it supports the mission work of their friends, pastors Sam and Prossy Magumba, who care for orphaned youngsters in Jinja, near Lake Victoria.

The development of the children's medical centre
The development of the children's medical centre in Uganda

Fulfilling both a personal and spiritual mission for Kim and John, the Silverbergs will proudly preside over the clinic’s ribbon-cutting in Jinja on April 23, 2018 — Kelly’s 22nd birthday.

The tree has been a gethering place for all of us suffering the loss of a loved one

“I love seeing people come into the coffee shop to visit the tree, or bringing others to show them their loved one’s picture on the tree,” says Kim as she reflects on how her beautiful mural has grown.

“The tree has been a gathering place for all of us suffering the loss of a loved one. What makes it so special is that we can help people locally, as well as the people in Uganda.”

Girls of Greater Love Ministries
Gorgeous girls of Greater Love Ministries

  • To add a special photograph to the Tree of Eternity, send your image to kimsilverberg29@gmail.com.