Family begins long journey to heal after losing two little girls
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
A Storm Lake, Iowa mother recently returned home after spending two weeks in the hospital.
Heather Binder's car was hit by a train near Alta on February 13. In that car, were her girls, Chloe and Camille.
Now, she begins the long road to recovery without them.
Her sister, Julie Perryman, sat down with KTIV’s Kristen Johnson to talk about the loss and shares a lesson on how precious life can be.
"We had just seen them. They came to the house for a family visit. She'd come into the kitchen where I was and puckered up for a kiss, and she was just big sparkly eyes. I gave her a kiss on the lips, and she just ran back to the door by her mom, and that was our last goodbye,” recalled Perryman. It marked the first time four-year-old Chloe had independently asked for a kiss and a hug from her aunt.
A week later, she and two-year-old Camille would be critically hurt, sitting in the backseat of a car that met a train on the tracks in Alta, Iowa.
"The doctors basically said that there necks had been fractured, that it didn't look good,” Perryman remembered.
The girls were flown to a Sioux Falls hospital. Their mother went to Storm Lake. She would later be flown to Sioux Falls, not only to get further treatment, but to say goodbye.
"She was just so injured she couldn't turn her head, and she held their hand. Her level pain was probably not describable. You can't put words to the kind of physical and emotional pain,” said Perryman of the injuries and decision to take the girls off life-support.
Binder's injuries, including 13 crushed ribs and punctured lungs, were so severe, that she couldn't even weep.
"It's not a stretch to put yourself in her shoes if you have children,” stated Perryman.
Perryman and Binder have dealt with tragedy before, when their brother, Amos, died.
“With my brother we had a lifetime to celebrate and remember, and with the girls, it kind of feels like we've been really robbed. They were so young, and it was really that season of hugs and kisses, and big eyes looking out at the world,” explained Perryman.
Now that she's home, Binder's starting the road to a physical recovery, and an even longer journey to emotional healing.
“You think you know how to love something, with your children and with your family, and when you lose something that precious that you can't get back, everything in the world is so much more beautiful. Every moment and memory that you had with that person is radiant. All the things in the world become a lot less permanent and lasting," Perryman added.
The Binders are also facing mounting medical bills.
Their music family is hosing a benefit to not only raise money but also help them heal.
The public is encouraged to visit the Sioux City Conservatory of Music next Sunday.
Binder’s son Nate and Perryman’s daughter Alexis are students at the conservatory.
A silent auction and performances start at 4 p.m.
A free will donation is requested.
“We're a family here. So, we need to reach out as a family would. I think about this loss as being something that is never really going to make sense, but the memory of the community that comes with it and the love and support is something that's going help us all understand it,” explained Sioux City Music Conservatory Co-Founder Gia Emory.
The auction will include these works by local artists, as well as gift certificates for area restaurants, dry cleaning, massages, and more.
You can find a complete list of the auction items on the Conservatory's Facebook page.
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