Bode Miller and his wife, Morgan Beck Miller, are opening up about the death of their 19-month-old daughter, Emeline, after a swimming pool accident last month.
In an interview that aired on Monday's Today show, the couple recalled to Savannah Guthrie the routine day that became one of the most devastating moments of their lives.
"It was a normal day. Every morning the kids would go swimming and Bode would go swimming with them. They'd be in there for hours and they loved it," Morgan reflected back to that terrible day.
Following a morning swim, Morgan and Emmy, as she was called by her parents, headed off to a birthday party where the little one took a nap in her mom's lap.
"I got to hold her and I was sitting with a couple of moms and we were just chatting about life and school and she still slept. I kept saying, 'This is so crazy, she never lets me do this. I haven't been able to do this for months,'" Morgan, a 31-year-old pro volleyball player, noted. "So, I held her and then about an hour later she woke up and saw that she was in Chuck E. Cheese and was so excited."
Next, the mother-daughter pair returned home to see off Bode, a 40-year-old Olympic skier, who was leaving to take his oldest daughter, Neesyn, to her softball game. The couple also have a 3-year-old son, Nash, while Bode's daughter, Neesyn, and son, Samuel (who's sometimes referred to as Nate), are from previous relationships.
"He was loading up the car when we got back and I gave him a kiss. And out of nowhere [Emmy] leaned over and gave him another kiss and we were so amused by her reaction because it was not typical of Emmy. So, I kissed him again and she kissed him again and we laughed," Morgan revealed. "Then I turned around and walked inside and she waved and then said bye to her dad."
It was a trip to the neighbor's house where devastation struck.
"We sat on the sofa and she played in front of us. I had my cup of tea and the boys were right next to us in the downstairs guest bedroom playing on the iPad, playing with toys. Emmy would go back and forth, which was all of 15 feet," Morgan tearfully remembered. "All of a sudden it was just too quiet for me. We were mid-conversation and I stood up and turned and I walked to right where the boys were and I said, 'Where's Emmy?' And before Nate could respond I turned around and the door that leads to the backyard that was closed had this tiny sliver of light coming through the side and my heart sank. And I opened the door and she was floating in the pool. I ran and I jumped in."
Bode recalled "shock" hearing the news over the phone about CPR attempts on his daughter and an arriving ambulance. While the doctor initially gave the parents hope about a possible recovery, in the end, Bode said "Emmy's brain had not had enough oxygen for too long a time."
The couple is still able to remember their daughter with joy. "She was just a bear. She had a such a powerful, bull-like personality where she just did what she wanted," Bode said.
"She was such a bright light and she was determined," his wife agreed.
While Morgan still suffers from guilt, the couple is cognizant of the fact that their other kids are growing up fast and, as Bode put it, "We don't want to miss time with them."
"When they talk about her and they share stories, they always have a smile on their face," Morgan revealed of the other kids' recollections of Emmy. "They constantly remind us that we're still here and it allows us to bring our focus back to the things that we still have to be incredibly grateful for."
In the midst of all this grief, Morgan is also expecting another baby, due this October.
"That was my first concern. Besides the fact of never being able to see my daughter again, it was, 'How am I supposed to bring a new baby into this world with just losing my baby?'" a sobbing Morgan pondered. "Emmy was so excited to be a big sister, she walked around all the time with her baby. Now we have the opportunity to love that baby not only for ourselves, but also for Emmy."
In addition to the support of their family, the couple is coping with the unimaginable loss by speaking out about water safety.
"We have the choice to live our days with purpose. To make sure that no other parent has to feel what we're feeling," Morgan declared. "...There's not a day that goes by that I don't pray for the opportunity to go back to that day and make it different, but now we have this opportunity to make other parents' day different."
She continued: "I want to remember her as my baby girl. She brought so much to our lives and now she's helping us bring so much to everyone else's lives."
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