A Child, a Death, and a Memory

Not quite a few years ago, in a room as dark as the night sky, my wife and I held our newborn daughter close to our hearts as her heartbeat slowed and she breathed her final breath.  We had met Vivian fifteen hours earlier, when she let out her one and only loud cry.

I am often given to recollect some moment or other from her incredibly short life, and when I dwell upon these memories, her life flashes before my eyes.  It’s strange: our time together was so brief I could not come to know her personality, her character, her interests, her likes and dislikes, and yet despite all this, and while she was missing the top of her skull, she was to me then and remains to me now a whole person.  Complete.  A life lived. A story told.  Not as complete as it should have been.  Not as long a life as I would call fair or just or right.  But there it was, and here I remember it.

Perhaps this perception of fullness in the face of brokenness speaks to the power of love.  Perhaps love reveals to us what cannot be discovered by the pursuits of the intellect.   I’m inclined to believe this.  I’m inclined to say that love is the master key to unlocking the meaning of life.  I say this because, if I have not been deceived, love has shown me the world in the bruised face of a dying child.  I have seen everything because I have loved another completely, from the beginning of her life to its untimely end.

It is strange, this gift of death.  When Vivian ceased her precious movements and her body relaxed as if in slow motion, when our inexhaustible love and sadness poured out of our exhausted hearts, eternity opened before us.  When I reflect upon these memories, I am bathed in the light of a timeless, once distant world.  What is that world?  That world is love.

Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a contributor to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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11 Responses

  1. Thank you Kyle, for this vision of the immense beauty & the pain of love.
    Thank you for sharing the story of Vivian with us.
    Bless you both and your children.
    You reflect the love of God to us all, and you raise us up with your radiance.
    May God abundantly bless you.

  2. Tod Kelly says:


    Just… wow. Powerful stuff, Kyle.


  3. Rodak says:

    Kyle —

    You are a rare individual. Your friends appreciate and are enriched by your special qualities, almost on a daily basis. Thank you.

  4. North says:

    Sorry for your loss.

  5. BlaiseP says:

    Tragedies define us more than triumphs. Triumphs we can somehow attribute to luck or fate, less often to hard work or clever decisions. Tragedies are our own.

    Graveyards draw me in with my camera. I write little stories about the dead. Life is sweet because it is short: were we to be granted a life free from disease and aging, we would live in constant fear of some more violent fate: car accidents or asteroids or some other terrible outcome over which we would have no control.

    Tragedy may be our own and some of it is intensely private. But if we are brave and true, we ought to share some of it, if only for the certain knowledge that everyone else suffers. We are all made of the same stuff, forged in the heart of a long-dead star. We ought to love each other more. Love bears all things. We are not alone. We ought to bear each other up and here we do.

    Creatures of time, we remember, we grieve. Suffering and loss forms the landscapes of our lives. Yet tragedy is also transformation. Seeing others as we are seen, soldiering on through the seeming incomprehensibility of suffering, there is no shame and much relief in walking together on that path, bearing each other up. Tomodachi, the Japanese word for friend, walking-together.

  6. Nob Akimoto says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m humbled by your experience.

  7. Janet Cupo says:

    I can only echo what Tod said. Thank you for sharing this.


  8. Jaybird says:

    This is the worst thing that could ever happen.
    I am sorry.

  9. Burt Likko says:

    What an awful experience for you and your wife. What a remarkable journey to find the beauty in it. You have my condolences, and my admiration.

  10. Kyle Cupp says:

    Thank you all for the kind words.

  11. Came by way of Pentimento. A beautiful, beautiful post. I’m so sorry for the loss of your Vivian.