No one wants to work on their birthday, but Debbie Bice knew she had to.
She was looking forward to going out to eat with her fiancé, Kevin, and their 1-year-old Cameron. It was a family birthday tradition.
As on most days, Debbie, 31, could hardly wait to see her rambunctious, blond-haired, blue-eyed boy and hear his near-constant giggle.
It had been only about two months since she returned to work, so it was still hard being away from him.
Kevin was home with Cameron that Thursday in December 2001 because his company was doing inventory. That made it tougher for Debbie to leave.
She sat down beside Cameron on the love seat and told her little boy, "I love you" and "I'll miss you."
She tried to get him to say "Happy birthday" or "I love you" in return, but he didn't. And it really didn't matter. They gave each other a hug and Cameron smiled at her as she closed the door.
It was about 5 o'clock when the phone at Debbie's desk unexpectedly rang.
Maybe Kevin was calling to finalize plans for her birthday dinner or to find out exactly when she would be coming home that day.
"It's Kevin," she recalled him saying in an emotionally distraught voice. She hardly recognized him.
"You need to get home right now," he pleaded.
Before Debbie could get him to calm down or slow down and tell her what was happening, he gave her the news no parent is ever prepared to hear.
Cameron was dead.
Right then and there she remembers screaming. Her manager took her home, and all she remembers is how the drive from the Elkhart office to her Osceola home felt like it took an eternity.
"By the time we got to my cul-de-sac and I saw the paramedics and firetrucks, my legs felt like they would give out from under me," she said.
She and Kevin embraced at the front door.
"I literally fell into his arms," she said.
Debbie went inside and looked into the living room.
"My son was on the couch with a sheet over him," she remembered. "I went in and held his cold little hand and rubbed his face.