Beneath the rubble a faint cry. Then, another. Above, bruised men claw at mortar with shaking hands. Pipes, sticks, whatever in reach now a tool. Digging. Hauling. Fathers, grandfathers, uncles, sons, husbands sling concrete slab by slab while everyone prays. What is felt cannot be identified. Pain so complete and compressed, squeezes out all reasoning. 

Pinned. The contorted one feels nothing. She gulps shallow bits of dusty air. Blinks. No light reaches her. She hears a cry, a wail, retching. Then nothing. Too long they lay trapped beneath what once was home. Her belly a large stone as if she is the wreckage. Was it God’s anger that made Him pick up the world and shake it like a snow-globe quaking the earth and toppling buildings like children’s blocks? She confesses her sins—disobeying her mother, teasing her younger brother, stealing a piece of fruit. She bargains. No new dress for her eleventh birthday. She tries to sing, praise Him, but loses consciousness.

CNN’s camera zooms in. Pulled from the debris a young boy with the biggest smile. Someone pours water over his dusty head, allows him a few sips before he is whisked away as wearied onlookers and viewers worldwide cheer. His story replays through the night and coming days. The smile says it all: Miracle. 

The smile is what we remember…even when a little girl dies.