The mysterious, sudden death of 12-year-old Grace Heitzig

 

One week ago, 12-year-old Grace Heitzig went to bed in her Maple Grove home. She didn't wake up the next morning.

Grace's mother, Katie Heitzig, says, "You get 12, almost 13 fabulous years, then you just say, I guess that's all you're going to get, and that's what you're meant to have and then you celebrate those years and remember those years and honor those years, so..."

"Hug your kids," Charlie interjects.

Last Monday night, Grace went to bed happy -- it was a normal night.

In the morning, she was found wrapped in her sheets on the floor, dead.

An autopsy ruled out any unknown conditions or illnesses, and has left Grace and Charlie with nothing but guesses.

Grace did have one seizure last summer. Her parents wonder if she might've had another last Monday night.

"She could have got herself wrapped up in her blankets and then had a seizure, or got herself wrapped up in her blankets by having a seizure," Charlie says.

They will likely never know, but wonder, even if they could, if it would help.

"Even if someone does die, let's say of congenital heart disease, you have an answer... but that's never going to be good enough to a parent," Katie says.

As a 7th grader, Grace had already joined Maple Grove's JV swim team, which is why the rock outside Maple Grove High School now serves as a tribute to her.

Hope, sunshine, giggles -- these are the words Grace's parents used to describe her during her funeral.

They are words they've embraced, to face an unexplainable loss.

"I believe that someday we will find a place that a new joy will come to us, a new hope, a new happiness," Katie says. "It's just going to be different than it has been in the past."

This Friday, when Grace would've turned 13, her classmates in Maple Grove plan to wear purple -- Grace's favorite color -- in her honor, and sing "Happy Birthday."


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