One Minute

“I was only gone for one minute.” She said softly, reaching for a tissue.

I didn’t know what to say. I hated cases like these.

Nina was a beautiful toddler, laughing and smiling in each photo her mother showed me, swiping her finger across her phone screen.

I took a look at the contents of the bag that she’d brought in.

The pink footie pajamas with the kittens on the front.

Baba, the teddy bear that she “could never sleep without”.

A sealed envelope that read “From Mommy and Daddy, with love”.

I felt a lump in the back of my throat.  “I’ll take these back to inventory.” I told her. “I’ll be back in just a minute.”

I needed to get out. I dropped the last outfit Nina would ever wear on my desk and went outside.

I sat down on the curb in the parking lot, and began to count to sixty.

There’s a lot that can happen over the span of sixty seconds.

One minute for Nina to wander out into the backyard unsupervised. 

I held back tears and told myself to breathe.

One minute for her to slip and fall into the pool. 

I took another breath.

Nina couldn’t swim. 

“We had her signed up for toddler sessions this summer.” her mother had choked. 

Another breath.

I was out of time, but now, I was calm.

I went back into the arrangement room.

Cherish the minutes you have with those you love.

It doesn’t take long to tell them you love them.

It just takes one minute.

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