Parents who lost their three children find solace in new blessings

On May 4, 2007, the Coble family of Ladera Ranch, California had just celebrated little Kyle's fifth birthday the day before. Together with his sisters (four-year-old Emma and two-year-old Katie), his mother Lori and grandma Cindy, the birthday boy had spent the morning at a mall where Kyle had especially enjoyed the ferris wheel and the pet store. As it became time for the kids' afternoon nap, they loaded into the minivan so that they could make their way home. But they hit a traffic jam on the I-5 and the van came to a stop. Lori turned around to her youngest daughter and tickled her tenderly on her foot. It would be the last time that she saw her daughter laugh.

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Suddenly, their minivan was rammed full-speed by a big-rig truck carrying 40,000 pounds of cargo. Lori and her mother were immediately knocked unconscious from the impact. But children in the backseat were even more seriously hurt. The family was soon on its way to the emergency rooms of multiple hospitals.

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When husband and father Chris learned of the accident, he rushed to the hospital where Lori was. By then both of his little daughters were already dead. There was still some hope that Kyle would survive, but his injuries proved severe. With a heavy heart, the decision was made to turn off his life-support machine. Together with his wife, Chris sat at his bedside until Kyle breathed his last breath. “I held my hand on his chest until his heart stopped beating,” Chris said. “Then he was gone.”

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The grieving parents saw Kyle, Katie, and Emma one last time before the funeral as the three little ones lay in their tiny coffins.

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Their pain was unbearable. Lori and Chris lived in a neighborhood with many children. Every time they heard their cheerful laughing, they closed the windows and retreated into the back part of their house. On Halloween, they even went out of town so that they didn't have to greet all the children who rang their doorbell. It was simply too heartbreaking.

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The parents made a pact: they would not kill themselves. Even if it seemed like a way to end the pain on some of their darker days. “At a certain point you just want to break through the grief. You want to take your life because you think that you’ll be with your kids again,” Chris confessed. “But we promised to never leave each other.”

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Another decision helped them through their grief: three months after the accident, Chris and Lori decided that they wanted to have more children. “We always described ourselves at that point as parents without children,” Chris said. They didn't want to live that way any longer. So they began IVF treatment in the hopes of conceiving a child. Of the 10 eggs they started with, three were successfully fertilized. Two girls and a boy were the result. Just like Emma, Katie, and Kyle. "We were only going to put two back in, but once we found out that it was two girls and a boy, we took that as a sign from above," Lori said.

Almost a year after they had lost Kyle, Emma, and Katie, the couple welcomed their triplets into the world: Ashley, Elie and Jake. “They will never replace Kyle, Emma, and Katie,” Lori said. “But there is joy in the house again. There is joy in our hearts again. They fill our lives with love, happiness and laughter again.”

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The triplets know that before they were born they had three other siblings. Their pictures hang everywhere in the house and their parents talk about them often. They even go to the cemetery together to have picnics. Here the entire family is together. Because Kyle, Emma, and Katie will never be forgotten.

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