Lauren McGuire’s 26 Minute Memoir

The baby was dead. I recognized its expression. I was flipping through Newsweek, reading of the earthquake. The man holding the child was clearly in anguish, his face and neck were wet with tears, the child was unresponsive to his cries. Her lips were flat, her eyelids smooth, much like the daughter I held more than eleven years ago. I didn’t need to read anymore after I saw the picture. The news of 200,000 dead was too big for my heart to comprehend, yet the picture of the baby—perhaps mistaken for sleeping by others—awakened my sorrow.

Her placid face was that of an angel’s, not like one of a live, squirming, fussy baby, pinched in hunger or glowing with wonder. I looked at the girl, quiet in death, and understood why man believes in heaven, the afterlife, or reincarnation. The thought of something so beautiful and pure floating into nothingness is not something we want to understand. I imagine the man holding the baby thinks heaven is a farce as I did when I held my own lost infant. No, I had thought, the world is unfair and cruel. And no one could convince me otherwise.

Cruel and unfair, until I looked at Ada. Cruel and unfair to take her away, but miraculous to have given her to me in the first place. Forever I was tied to middle.

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