While waiting in Peabody United Methodist Church for her daughter to finish choir practice Friday evening, Michelle Cubbage, 49, died instantly of what was assumed to be a massive heart attack.
CPR was administered as choir members awaited an ambulance and gathered around Cubbage’s 14-year-old daughter, Amber.
“Of course, Michelle’s death was a complete shock, but I was proud of the response from our choir members,” Methodist Church Pastor Angela DeFisher said. “Medically, we knew there was not much we could do, but everyone stayed for Amber. There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for her from the congregation and community.”
Amber Cubbage is an eighth grader at Peabody-Burns Middle School. Although she has been a student in the district for several years, Amber has become more involved in school and church activities. She and Michelle moved from Burns to Peabody during the summer.
“She’s an awesome young lady,” PBMS principal Ken Parry said. “She’s a good student, great athlete, participates in volleyball, basketball, track, and is in band and choir. She and her mother were very close. They went everywhere together. Michelle was at everything Amber was involved in.”
Amber’s future is up in the air at this time. She is staying with Chris and Jennifer Young and their family. They have been designated court-appointed temporary guardians. Youngs are members of Peabody Methodist Church and both are teachers. Their children are friends of Amber.
“There was a hearing Wednesday to begin the work of determining her future,” Jennifer said. “There are lots of questions and no easy answers.”
“Michelle’s death was shocking, but I am glad it didn’t happen when they were on the highway or somewhere isolated,” she said. “Certainly it was awful for Amber, but at least she wasn’t alone. The next stage of deciding what happens will be daunting for her, but again she has support.”
Pastor DeFisher said several church families have opened their homes to her if she needs them.
“I’m no expert on this, but I imagine it will be a judge’s decision,” she said. “I understand there are lots of legal steps to go through. We just hope for continued support and prayers for her. There will be tough days to come.”
Parry said students at PBMS have also had concerns about what would happen to Amber.
“They were stunned to find out her mother died,” he said. “But then came the discussion of ‘what happens to her now?’ And some even were fearful for their own futures should they find themselves in a similar predicament.
“So much is up in the air right now,” he added. “But this brings it home for young people.”
An account has been established with Vintage Bank Kansas in Peabody. Checks can be made out to Peabody Association of Churches and include the words “Cubbage” or “funeral expenses” on the memo line. Donations also can be sent to Peabody United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 146, Peabody KS 66866.