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The Loss of the Future

Cards in Action: Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. It was a Hindu prayer for peace that I read to this family, as they said their goodbyes to little Siddhartha. He was born still at 33 weeks. He was their first child. Dad’s parents were there, Mom’s sister was there, tearfully supporting. My interfaith book has prayers for fetal demise, but they are decidedly Christian, and not appropriate today. It is always difficult to lose a child. An infant, especially. It is a different kind of loss, one never expects to bury the dreams the future holds, leaving behind the only-just forming imaginings of what this family would grow to be. I brought her a bright blue and green patterned quilt from our office cupboard, wrapped Baby in it. Had Mom hold him in it. I took an angel from my bag and asked them to spell their son’s name. In the white space on the paper angel, I wrote it out. Then I held the angel between my palms. I stood, infusing this angel with silent prayer, before folding it into existence. Once folded, I handed it to Dad. I asked about temple, and if they could request a “puja” for healing. Just using their word for ritual meant something. I hugged Mom. I told her it is hard to start off motherhood as a mother to an angel, and also that she would become stronger for this experience. I told her to take her time to mourn this child. That her body would heal faster than her heart.