And now that I have my own six-year-old daughter, I think how outrageous it would be for someone to come into our lives at a moment of the most terrible pain and then forget us.
So I’m fighting it.
It’s just that so much has transpired since.
Perhaps it’s part of how we’re built, to blur one horror into another, one conflict or barbarous act overlaid with the next.
But it leaves us in danger of forgetting who did what and why, the facts we found and the fallacies we confronted as well as our own failings.
So I’m holding onto that haunting image, because right now it’s the best I can do.
Fast forward 11 years and I’m looking at another little child.
This one was hit in the head by shrapnel from a mortar that her neighbours said had been fired by the Islamic State group.
Her injured brother is lying next to her on the floor of a clinic outside Mosul in northern Iraq.
He’s crying but no one attends to him.
A medic closes her dead eyes and, later, breaks down as he complains of the lack of medical support for civilians as US-backed forces battle their way into the jihadists’ stronghold.
I’ve spent much of the past 13 years meeting the people who’ve fled these conflicts and, occasionally, those who’ve been overwhelmed by them.
And it’s become clear to me that, when war isn’t simply a haven for criminality on a grand scale, it’s a grisly and morally ambiguous place.
It could be easy to get lost.
One of the few guiding lights is International Humanitarian Law, the laws of war.
They allow you to ask questions like, “Did they intend to kill civilians? Did they do enough to avoid it? Did they make a distinction between civilians and the enemy? Did the military goal match the destruction they unleashed?”
But amidst the broken lives and concrete of any battlefield I’ve found those laws also get blurry.
Implicit in all of those questions is that it is actually okay to kill civilians, as long as that’s not what you were trying to do.
It’s all been made more complicated by the dramatic spread of militias.
For me, it’s one of the most significant changes I’ve seen during my time in the Middle East.
When I first arrived in Baghdad in 2004, as the debacle of the US-led invasion was unfolding into civil war, I interviewed a member of the Badr Brigades, a Shiite-based militia and political organisation, who’d been trained at what was, in effect, a military staff college across the border in Iran.
Badr now has members in parliament and all armed services.
And they and many smaller and more radical groups have now been made legitimate by the Iraqi government after they played a vital role stemming the tide of the Islamic State group.
Here in Lebanon, the Iranian backed group Hezbollah has members in parliament, a rocket arsenal aimed at Israel to the south and an expeditionary force fighting alongside government forces in Syria.
Badr and Hezbollah were established long ago.
But since I first encountered them there’s been an explosion in the number of armed groups.
At the height of the Syrian rebellion, in 2014, there were an estimated 1,000 militias fighting in Syria.
At one point, in one Libyan city at the end of 2011 there were more than 230.