I had chucked the book manuscript to my editor around lunchtime on Friday. Of course, I just attached my 300+-page wonder to a cheery email and hit "send." But in truth, it felt like heaving off 700-pounds of paper and watching it fly far, far to the east.
I almost cried when I finished.
My logical self knew it would be done one day, but all those nights away from Jason and Hadley, all those interviews (thousands!), all those hours writing and revising and obsessing (I am gifted at obsessing), all those days of wishing I hadn't agreed to do the work--they made my more emotional self wonder if I'd ever really finish. I was like Sisyphus and his stupid rock. Every time I finished a chapter, a new one waited to be written.
And then I returned to "normal," to being a wife and a mom and a daughter, sister, friend--and having time and energy to spend with the people I love. Of course, this isn't normal at all. It's extraordinary.
I will always wonder if I should have turned down this project. It was very, very hard on our family (in part because my original timeline shrunk from about 16 months to about nine). It broke my heart often, and it brought us a lot of stress. I mean, I know stress almost as well as I know chocolate--both are specialties of mine--and 2011 was the most stressful of my life. I missed days with Hadley, days I will never, ever get back. I can't think about this fact too much because first, there's not a thing I can do about it now, and second, letting myself wallow would only leave me in the emotional muck.
There is no Hollywood ending here. Some people will love the book. Some people will criticize it. Some colleges will be furious that they're no longer included. Some will be delighted to discover they've been added. Matt Lauer will not call me to share my hard-earned wisdom on the "Today Show." I will have made very little money for a whole lot of work.
I don't belong to the club of people who jump to the cliché, the Hallmark-ish ending. Sometimes, I think we're left to wonder. God doesn't promise us answers to all of our questions, and he makes it pretty clear that His work is sometimes (often) mysterious to us. I have to be okay with that right now.
But if there is a pretty little bow to tie to the end of this tale, it's that I see the extraordinary in the mundane. I longed for it for a year. When I snuggle up Hadley at the end of the day and she sings her made-up songs (in her "princess falsetto" voice), I am deeply grateful. When she won't eat her dinner or she becomes a one-woman wrecking crew or she runs away yelling "naked baby" as soon as I pull off her pajamas to dress her in the morning, I feel the sweetness of those moments in ways I might not have if I hadn't lost a few (a lot) of them last year.
I'm not a soul easily settled, but I feel settled now. I hope it lasts. If so, the hardness and sadness and exhaustion of last year will have been worth something far, far better than my name on a book.