Have you ever talked to someone and later contemplated what it would feel like to never see them again? To never hear their voice again and just to be haunted by their last words? And the thought of the last words you said to them being your goodbye? Maybe you just never think of this until someone you loved leaves. Then you start to understand how meaningful each goodbye is, because each could be your last.
Goodbye for me was really an Aloha--a goodbye and a hello. It is used to greet someone and to say goodbye when you depart. But it also means so much more than that, as it is used only to greet someone for whom you feel love or compassion.
We first received the radical decree about three months ago: “All newborn males of the Hebrew race are to be killed at birth.” This was what Pharaoh believed was a reasonable answer to his problem with the Hebrew people. He was worried that the Hebrews would become too powerful and riot against the Egyptians, so this was the best initiative he could think of.
My mother is expecting a baby any day now, and I am very worried. ‘G-d, please keep my little sibling safe.’ We don’t know yet if it will be a girl or boy but I know my parents are very worried thinking about what they should do if the baby is a boy. Babies are very loud, mama and papa say. They say my little brother Aaron was a very loud baby. I am only seven years old and he was born four years ago, so I don’t remember him being born. I just remember him being my little brother who I will always protect.
One day later….
Mama had her baby today!!! The sad thing is, and I hope I won’t be sorry for writing this, but it’s a BOY! I hear mama and papa whispering at night deciding to hide him. I am worried for this, What if my precious baby brother is taken? What if I have to say goodbye to him forever? Many images and thoughts are floating through my mind. Mama says a young girl like me should not have to worry about things like that. BUT he is my brother! My brother! Oh, I would give anything to keep him safe in our house, but no one knows the future except for G-d above.
In times like these, G-d is my only strength because He promised my ancestors that He would keep His people in His hands. He said He would rise them up, but right now that’s not what I feel…..
Baby brother gets bigger and louder everyday. I’m worried a Egyptian guard will find him soon! I wonder what life he would have to live if he had to be hidden for fear of getting drowned in the Nile River? That thought scares me! What if I am never able to play with my baby brother like I do with my other little brother Aaron?
Three months later….
Today is the day…. mama and papa said we have to let go of baby brother. I helped mama make a basket weaved with bulrushes and covered with pitch and gooey slime. I could barely see to help her through my tears. So many thoughts torture me. How could Pharaoh do this to us? Does he not realize the pain and sadness that overwhelms your whole body? I look over my shoulder and see baby brother. There are no words to describe him. He is part of my life. I couldn’t imagine living without him now, without the innocent, bubbly baby who knows how to make me smile even through the tears.
He doesn’t know his future and he lives for each day, smiling always. I realize that he is just like the sparrows in the sky above, not worried about the future because they know that G-d will always provide for them. Papa reminds me of this.
Now the time is near when we will have to say goodbye. Papa says I have to be a big girl and take baby brother to the river and lay him in the reeds. He says it is my responsibility as his big sister. The unspoken truth is that we are making one of the most important decisions of our lives. We know not if he will survive even ten minutes in the Nile River, for there are many deadly snakes, spiders, huge animals, and crocodiles. But we’re taking the chance and the possibility that maybe he will survive. Maybe he will be delivered by G-d’s hands to someone in a place without the cruel law of killing innocent people, a safe haven where he can grow up. I won’t mind if he never remembers me. If only I can be sure he is alive and well somewhere, it won’t matter who he’s with. G-d will protect him, but just to be sure he is alive would be everything to me. Maybe in my dreams he will remember me…
As I sneak him to the river in the basket, his smile kills me inside, so I have to look away. It’s a cloudy day today and the day looks as I feel: sad and dreary. I lay him in the water and I feel a burden on my shoulders. I know I can’t take all day, because it will not get easier from here. It will only get worse if I don’t let go of him right now.
I kiss him one more time and I know I’ll never forget this moment. I lay him down in the water in his basket, and give the basket a light push. I watch as he slowly drifts off, cooing and moving his little arms… my little brother gone into the unknown…
I follow him down the river bank and pray nothing bad crosses his path.
A little while later….
I stop because suddenly my baby brother gets stuck in the reeds by the palace. I am very worried! That is where those evil and cold-hearted people live. I despise them all! The Pharaoh, the Queen, the Princess, the Princes, the soldiers! I do not care for any of them!
A servant girl is coming toward my baby brother and I can hear some muffled voices! Ah! My baby brother floated into the Princess’ bathing courtyard! I duck and gasp. I creep forward trying to catch what they’re saying, but I fear someone will connect me with him and kill us both! I watch her pick up the basket and open the lid. She gasped and a look of great distress fell on her face. She looked very shocked and was hesitant to tell the Princess of her discovery. But the Princess is a very clever girl and instantly read her servant’s face.
“Bring me the basket immediately!” Commanded the Princess.
I watched as the servant girl brought the basket and slowly lifted the lid off.
“Is that an…. Egyptian BABY? Boy?” The Princess gasped.
“Yes, your majesty. It is a baby of the Hebrew race,” Replied her maid,. “And it is a boy.”
“Oh poor thing,” cried the Princess.
“Please your majesty, if I find favor in your eyes please spare his life.” Pleaded the Princess’ servant.
The Princess looked upon my brother and found compassion towards him. I watched this scene and I could not believe my ears. I crept closer to make sure I was hearing and seeing right. This could not be true, my brother had a chance to be saved!
“Your majesty, what will you do with him?” Asked the servant girl anxiously. “You know the orders of your father, the Pharaoh, about the Egyptian baby boys….”
“This Hebrew baby shall not perish under my watch! I will protect him for he has found favor in my eyes.”
I don’t really understand how, but I felt an urge from somewhere deep down inside of me to go tell the Princess that she could get a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for her. So with a sudden boost of boldness, I walked up to the Princess.
“Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” I asked her with my high hopes, hidden love, and care as only a sister can feel, displayed plainly on my face.
“Yes, go my dear. Take the baby, nurse him and I will repay you.”
I had no words for her, I stood in shock of this new reality. She looked at me and waited for me to answer, when I didn’t, she just said plainly- “Go now dear, and if anyone stops you tell them to come speak to me.”
“Thank you very much, your Majesty.” That was all I could breath out, my brother was going to live!!!!
I walked home thanking G-d for what He had done for me. I could not believe it. He really answered my prayers!
When I got home, I ran inside with the baby. He was giggling loudly because of the bumpy ride. I opened the door and there was my mother. She was trying to keep busy but I know her mind was only on one thing. She looked up at me with no tears in her eyes, it seemed she had no more tears, she had run out. She told me with much emotion in her voice. “Miriam, it will not get easier to put off the task. You must do it. Do you not understand--”
I quickly told her the story and she started to cry. I did not understand how she could be smiling AND crying at the same time! “Mother, why are you sad? He’s back to us and safe, forever now.”
She laughed which was very odd and said “It is tears of joy! Joy honey! Not sadness. We must thank G-d for saving our little boy.”
I hugged Moses close to me and smiled. I liked that name, Moses, Pharaoh's daughter had named him that.
In my heart thought I knew I would have to let go of him soon. Nothing lasts forever
Four years later…
This day is so unlike the other day when I had to say goodbye to my brother. Today I’ll be giving him away but still keeping him in my memories. Now I know he will be safe in the palace with the royals. He will not have to labor as a slave like all of the Hebrew race. A crucial difference that will be between us is that his skin will always be so pale compared to our skin as it will not be scorched from the sun after long endless days of slave labor under the Egyptian sun. Many people believe pale skin is the most beautiful and desirable skin color. I cannot imagine it any other way. People with tan skin are the ones who work the hardest and usually are of our Hebrew race. This is because only the rich people can get a job that is good enough to not be in the sun, laboring all day. This time I have mixed feelings--I am going to miss the baby, but he is going to a better place than we are in right now. I am very grateful that I got to have my time with him extended from three months to four years!
A while later….
I know my love for Moses! G-d has shown me that people will walk in and out of your life and sometimes you won’t understand why. But you have to try to live your life to the fullest because they might walk back into your life and you’ll have to accept that. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Moses again, or if he will remember me, but I have faith. G-d holds the future and He will fill that void in my life with His love for me.