Before we ever said hello

In Lev. 10, Aaron’s two sons are consumed by fire, and die. There is a cryptic sentence in the text: “Vayidom Aharon.” This is often translated as ‘Aaron was silent’, or ‘Aaron held his peace.’ But neither of these does justice to the Hebrew verb, which really means, ‘Aaron was struck dumb / became still’. Rabbi Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) eloquently said, “Aaron’s heart turned to lifeless stone. He did not weep and mourn like a bereaved father, nor did he accept Moses’s attempts to console him, for his soul had left him and he was speechless.” When a child dies, it is a terrible thing for a parent. It is also heartbreaking when a parent-in-waiting never gets to become a parent at all. I wrote this prayer in 2005.

Blessing by a man after miscarriage

Before we could ever say hello I loved the idea of you.
I loved the thought of your life entwined with ours,
Joined in destiny and love and heartache and joy.

Sparks of the Divine, I fathered your beginnings,
Nurtured you with my own soul;
Dreamed of loving you in life.

But this was not to be.
You struggled to find your way here
And we struggled to find a way to help you.
You came part of the way, you did your best;
But something wasn’t right,
The pattern wouldn’t settle.
Before we could ever say hello
You had to leave.

Where are you now?
What is your destiny?
Wherever you have gone, you also live on here
In my mind, in my heart, in my grief;
In the bitter-sweet joy of my remembering.

You were loved.
No, the truth is – and this is harder to say –
I love you still
Not just for what you might have been
But for what you were and are:
You are my best, the child of our bodies,
My love, my life.

I love you more than anyone can know, and more.
And now, before we ever said hello
I must say goodbye, and give a father’s blessing:

In love, you were conceived;
As tiny seed of hope you were received.
And now, before we ever said hello,
May God bless you on your way –
I freely let you go.

This has also been published on Ritual Well at words of this blessing can be adapted so it can be said by a parent of any gender, or a couple.

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