The Cloud

It’s raining right now in Texas. Thundering, lightning, blustering, pouring. It reminds me of all the storms of this winter. Every doctor’s appointment, scheduled or emergency, there was a storm. December 4, the day we learned we would lose Samuel, it snowed all day, then all weekend while we waited for the Level II ultrasound. On the day I began premature labor, in the middle of the night it was snowing. The morning of my abruption, the paramedics had to give me extra blankets as they wheeled me out to the ambulance. We drove to the hospital in the middle of a snowstorm. During labor, the windows were all closed, so I couldn’t see that once again the cloud had followed me, but my friend texted as I was pushing to tell me that it was snowing for Sam and I.

The cloud began as a comfort, but then I came to resent it as it became a reminder of God’s presence. God’s presence did not prevent me from destruction. On the contrary, God’s presence often came in such overwhelming thickness just before every tragic or traumatic event. By the time Sam passed away, storms began to evoke such anxiety and fear. What else would God to me? What other destruction awaited, preceded by the clouds?

Today’s storm found a different woman than a similar storm in September when I learned I was pregnant. The thunder rumbles, the clouds are dark, the rain pours and soaks, and I don’t know what part of the path this storm precedes for me. I don’t know if God has blessing or devastation for me. I don’t know if He will lead me into an even lower valley than even this. But I know He is going before me in a cloud, as He did for the Israelites. By some miracle, this is enough for me.

The miracle I had hoped for, the miracle of my son’s physical deliverance, did not happen for me. But there is another miracle that is greater than even Sam’s wholeness. That is the preservation of my joy. Though God chose not to deliver me from this loss, I can see that He is choosing to rebuild. What is being constructed is more radiant than the structures that were torn down. I could have been undone. I could have been alone. I could have been destroyed. Instead, I was pressed but not crushed. I was never alone. I am not destroyed. These statements, coming from a mother bereaved of her firstborn son, are a miracle in their utterance.

On Mother’s Day, my first Mother’s Day, I sat before my little boy’s grave and cried. It was cloudy, of course, but I was grateful for the refuge it provided. I thought I would want to say something to him, but I didn’t because I knew he wasn’t there. During pregnancy, Sam’s soul was so evident to me. He was so obviously present with me. I spoke to him often. But Sam is not in the grave. His little body rests in the grave, and I will visit it often. But he is not there. I could feel it. I was comforted to hear the coo of a dove in the tree over his resting place. I hear a similar coo from a dove in my neighbor’s tree in Colorado.

My mother and I went for a walk along the path near Sam’s grave, and there were butterflies everywhere. Sweet little fluttering symbols of the resurrection, flitting in the green grass and wildflowers. Covered by the cloud, escorted by the butterfly, revived by the song of the dove, somehow… by some miracle… it is well with my soul.

One of the many butterflies along the path by Sam's grave

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