Amy Grass shares a story about love, loss, and navigating storms. Now you can find the Kindred Mom book, Strong, Brave, and Beautiful: Stories of Hope for Moms in the Weeds, wherever books are sold. Subscribe to the Kindred Mom newsletter and receive a preview of the book today! Photo by Anandu Vinod on Unsplash
The odds of being struck by lightning are around 1 in 500,000.
The odds of being struck by a rare cause of miscarriage were 1 in 1,000. Lightning struck.
There was no warning, no siren blaring or weather report telling me to seek shelter. It all looked like blue skies ahead. I don’t know when the electric bolt made contact. But when the thunder hit, the boom of “your baby’s heart is no longer beating” was deafening.
“A partial molar pregnancy,” the pathology report read. “Male.” A child I didn’t even know, a boy, suddenly gone. His name: River. We didn’t name him until after he died.
Even tropical storms get their names before they hit land.
It was July and we were on the way home from my niece’s birthday party. At one point during the party, rain splashed against the sliding glass doors, obscuring what was moments before a clear view. A brief break in the storm signaled that I should load the kids up for the 25 minute drive home. My husband Joel was out of town on a camping trip in the Rocky Mountains and I was on my own with our two small children. As we drove down the highway toward the city, lightning repeatedly flashed across the sky.
My four year-old Eloise asked, “What if something bad happens?” With my eyes steeled on the St. Louis skyline ahead, I turned the question over in my mind, deciding I wouldn’t try to reassure her everything would be okay. That’s not always the case. Sometimes bad things do happen.
Later, I scrolled Facebook and saw four people were struck by lightning in a neighborhood two miles south of our home. I didn’t know what to do with that information.
Sometimes I look back to photos from the days before we found out River had died, when we didn’t even know a storm was in the forecast. I scroll through the baby bump mirror selfies I snapped to document my growing belly, my face shining with pride. I took more photos in that third pregnancy than I ever remembered to capture with my first two. Now they sit in a Google Photos album along with a shot of the positive pregnancy test I sent my three best friends, the video telling our kids the good news, and the photo from our social media announcement. What can I do with these happy memories now that they’ve been tainted by sadness? There is no insurance policy that covers this kind of storm damage.
Summer continued, along with the unpredictable Midwest weather. On another night of solo parenting, abrupt thunder boomed loud enough to shake the house. I jumped. Eloise screamed. I clutched her small body to mine and she spoke through exasperated tears, “This day is a DISASTER!”
To take her mind off the storm outside, I prompted her to remember the good things about the day along with the bad. Eloise listed the hard things: Daddy wasn’t home, the rain meant we couldn’t go to the park. She followed up with good: a whole evening where she had me and her little brother to herself.
Ten minutes later, the sun was out again.
I recently found a piece I wrote early in my pregnancy with River while participating in a writing challenge. The prompt was grief and I reflected on my fear of it, my worry that something would go wrong. I wrote “it hangs there like a cloud. A cloud, heavy in the sky, ready to shower down on me. Will it burst or are there clear skies ahead?”
In early August, we were on a family walk through the park by our house. The blue sky turned fast as dark clouds rolled in overhead. Joel and I quickened our pace. The wind began to blow. Hard. Branches crashed to the ground around us. Our kids exploded in terrified sobs as we pulled the stroller shades over their heads.
Joel turned to me and asked, “Do you want to run?” We took off as limbs continued to fall in the path before us, running until we found shelter in a cinder block park bathroom. Joel ran home to get the car. Only as he sprinted away did I notice a group of people gathered not far from the bathroom. They stood, leaning on a truck, laughing and talking in the midst of the wind. Farther down the path, another person casually continued a jog. Everyone seemed to carry on as I held my two screaming children in a bathroom, frantically refreshing the weather app on my phone. Didn’t they know a storm was coming?
The next morning, I went on a 5:00am run through the same park and I saw something blocking the dark path before me. An enormous oak tree pulled by its roots to the ground in the previous night’s storm. I found an odd comfort in the tangible proof of the wind we so fiercely felt.
The day after we found out that River had died, while I still carried his lifeless body in mine,
Eloise asked if we could make a craft. I pulled construction paper from a drawer and sat on the dining room floor with tape and scissors. “Let’s make a rainbow,” she said. “And a sun. And rain clouds.”
So there I sat, in the middle of the most violent storm of my life, cutting strips of bright paper to make a rainbow. We hung them on the ceiling fan in the living room that day. Sun shining right in the middle of the rain.
Those construction paper pieces now hang on the wall in the room Eloise shares with her
younger brother Oliver.
They remind me of the way we sought beauty in the midst of the storm and the God who never left us.
There was more to that piece I wrote on grief in March. I’ve come back to the last paragraph
again and again. Before I knew the end of the story and the fierce storm that lay ahead of me, I did myself a favor and wrote something true:
“I push myself to trust the voice that is better than mine. The voice of the True One, who
promises to never leave or forsake me. He promises to make me strong and brave, not because I am but He is. He is not a God of the odds or statistics. Grief or no grief, He is true. He is good. I believe. Help my unbelief.”
He is true. He is good. I believe.
Help my unbelief.
I don’t know what comes next. All I can do is zip my rain jacket and head out into the wind,
trusting the only One whom the wind and the waves obey.
I know better now than to try to predict the weather.
Amy Grass is a wife and mom in St. Louis, Missouri. She is a writer, runner, and baker, and can often be found adventuring outdoors with her family or sharing a good meal with friends. She’s usually wearing overalls and almost always wants a donut.