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Photo from Bode and Morgan Miller's daughter's funeral carries important message

TODAY logo TODAY 4/12/2019 Gina Vivinetto
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Nearly a year after their 19-month-old daughter, Emeline "Emmy" Miller, died after drowning in a neighbor's pool, Bode and Morgan Miller's midwife is sharing a heartbreaking photo from the toddler's funeral last June.

The former Olympic skier and his pro beach volleyball player wife granted permission to close friend Lindsey Meehleis to share the photo, along with her emotional eulogy.

View this post on Instagram

We are two short months away from almost a year of the loss of our dear Emmy. Everyday still feels like a dream. In my stories I posted very effective water safety techniques. As we approach the warmer weather, we must all make a commitment together to do better for our children and get them watersafe. The AAP recently changed their water safety guidelines and they need to be shouted from the rooftops. I never want to stand up with my knees trembling looking my dear friends in the eyes as I give a eulogy for their daughter. Comment below, tag a friend, share my stories, print it out and post at your neighborhood pool. Let’s get this information out there! These are some of the words that I spoke this tragic day. @morganebeck & @millerbode I love you guys so much. I often believe that the way a mother labors her baby into this world is a reflection of the child’s personality or part of the story they set out on. On the Eve of Emmy’s Birth, 3 full weeks before her due date, we gathered and witnessed Morgan who was worn down, sick & exhausted after a stomach flu had been passed from person to person in their house. She dug deep for a strength that she never knew she had and pushed through.....finding the energy to birth their baby girl. The strength that Morgan found that night was Emmy’s first gift. For Emmy knew that her time here would be short, and she knew that in order for her parents to survive her loss, that the strength that they found that night wasn’t optional, it was necessary. The moon moved across the horizon in the cool night sky, Morgan and Emmy danced together as this earthly angel began her journey here to change the world. The morning sun began to rise and Morgan crawled into a warm pool of water.........just as day light broke, our little bringer of light was born. With deep wide eyes, she connected with everyone in the room. Staring deep into our souls. There is something special about every newborn baby, but there was something extra special about Emmy.... her eyes told us a story. She was fearless, determined & fierce. Cont in comments. 📷: @rachelthurston_ #drowningprevention

A post shared by Lindsey Meehleis (@lindseymeehleis) on

The tragic photo finds Meehleis delivering her moving eulogy while standing next to a photo of Emmy. A video image of the smiling toddler is also seen on a nearby screen.

Meehleis' touching words recalled the strength Morgan showed when giving birth to Emmy three weeks before her due date — and the midwife found herself wondering if the little girl had inherited her mother's power.

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"The strength that Morgan found that night was Emmy's first gift," Meehleis said. "For Emmy knew that her time here would be short, and she knew that in order for her parents to survive her loss, that the strength that they found that night wasn't optional, it was necessary."

She recalled welcoming "our little bringer of light," describing newborn Emmy as being immediately "connected with everyone in the room."

Emmy's tragic death was not in vain, she told mourners.

"While her time here was short, her fierce energy has forever changed the world," she shared. "She came forth ... sacrificing her own life in order to save the lives of many others."

Emmy died on June 10, 2018, after falling into a neighbor's swimming pool the previous day while on a visit with her mother and siblings. In their grief, Bode and Morgan learned that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 4 years old, killing nearly 1,000 children each year.

In late July, the couple spoke with TODAY, where for the first time they shared details of the tragedy to let other parents know how quickly a child's life can be lost.

"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' days different," Morgan Miller told TODAY co-anchor Savannah Guthrie.

"We have the choice to live our days with purpose, to make sure that no other parent has to feel what we're feeling," she said.

Since Emmy's death, the couple has worked with the American Academy of Pediatrics to update their recommendations regarding water safety and drowning prevention.

The AAP's guidelines, which can be found on HealthyChildren.org, include advising parents to "be vigilant" at bath time and to empty all buckets and wading pools immediately.

The organization also recommends all children be taught how to swim beginning at age 1. Children and teens should wear life jackets whenever they're near open bodies of water.

More of the AAP's recommendations:

  • Never leave children alone or in the care of another child while in or near bathtubs, pools, spas or other open water.
  • Never leave young children alone in the bathroom. Toilet locks can prevent drowning of toddlers.
  • When infants or toddlers are in or around water, a supervising adult with swimming skills should be within an arm's length, providing constant "touch supervision."
  • Even with older children and better swimmers, a supervising adult should focus on the child and not be engaged with other distracting activities.
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