meadowrueflowerNO words in the English language are more oxymoronic than “Final Draft.”

As in, “I’m finishing the final draft of my manuscript.”

Which I did last week. For maybe the seventh time.

It reminds me of taking my oldest kids to the playground when they were little and warning them, “Five minutes, and then we’ll go.”

Half an hour later, we might actually be collecting our scattered water bottles and hats and sneakers before trudging across the parking lot to the car. I worried they’d never learn to tell time. Five minutes “before we go” is never five minutes. Just like the “final draft” of a manuscript is never final.

Still progress is progress, whether it is leaving the playground or sending off a long-worked on manuscript to an agent or potential endorsers. The ultimate goal — publication! — may feel far away, but moments like getting this feedback from much-admired writer friend and author Amy Julia Becker make me feel the goal is within reach.

“In this riveting, beautifully-written, finely crafted book, Meadow Rue Merrill takes us through the story of her daughter Ruth–from her unlikely adoption from Africa to her inclusion in the Merrill family to her growth and beauty as a thriving little girl to her tragic and early death,” Amy Julia wrote of Ruth’s memoir. “Although the narrative spans the globe and covers topics as diverse as disability, education, adoption, and international relations, it is ultimately a story about family, about faith, and about coming home.”

That last word, “home,” touched me deeply. From the time our friends Allen and Theresa placed 16-month-old Ruth in our arms, my husband, Dana, and I knew she needed a home. As we and our children grew to love her, I hoped more than anything that Ruth’s home would be with us. For six amazing years it was. But Ruth’s ultimate home was a place we could not go with her.

As Ruth’s mother, this still grieves me deeply. I would not send my children to their first day of school alone — never mind eternity. But while I could not go with Ruth, I can tell her story.

Final draft or not, I’m more hopeful than ever that others will soon have the chance to share our daughter’s journey and the joy we now have in helping other children and adults with special needs.

Thank you Amy Julia Becker for your encouragement and for sharing your own journey from heartache to hope and healing.

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,” Psalm 30:11.