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After tragedy, a new life

Milt and Marchelle Jorgensen of Worthington are shown with their grandson, Michael Jorgensen, 5. Michael's mother, Jill Jorgensen, died May 6 after being diagnosed with brain tumors.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story is reprinted with permission of the Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, S.D. Jill Jorgensen was a 1982 graduate of Worthington High School and the daughter of Milt and Marchelle Jorgensen, Worthington.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Michael Jorgensen comforted Julie Eggebraaten in words his grieving aunt never will forget.

"We're going through a storm right now, but we'll be OK," he told her.

"I learned that in Sunday school. I learn a lot in Sunday school."

Eggebraaten still chokes up as she recalls the wisdom her nephew imparted.

Truly, they are inspiring words.

But they are all the more stirring when you realize they were spoken by a child just hours into his fifth year.

And "the storm" he was talking about was a tragedy no 5-year-old should have to face: the death of his mother.

Jill Jorgensen died at her Sioux Falls home May 6. Only six weeks earlier Jorgensen, then 44, her fiancé Marty Miller and her family had learned the seizures she experienced March 21 were caused by a brain tumor.

Two tumors, actually.

When doctors opened Jorgensen's skull to remove what they already had determined was a cancerous golf-ball-sized tumor, they found a second tumor hiding behind it, this one the size of a person's fist.

Jorgensen was told she had six to 12 months to live.

But May 5, doctors sounded more hopeful, says Allie Miller, Jorgensen's future daughter-in-law.

"She'd been to a doctor's appointment, and they said, 'You're doing great, and we expect everything to last a bit longer than we did,'" 23-year-old Miller says.

But when Jorgensen's fiancé woke the next morning and took her coffee, he discovered she'd died peacefully in her sleep.