Yesterday morning, Kelly & I got the worst news of our lives: our beloved, sweet Ruth died in a tragic bus accident. We've cried more than any other time in our lives -- nothing compares.
Because of Tanzania adoption law, we were never able to officially adopt Ruth, but she has been our daughter for many years. She would always call us by our names, but when we held her close she would call us "mommy" and "daddy" in our ear.
Falling in love with Kelly was tied to falling in love with Ruth. I knew from the moment I said "I do" to Kelly that I was also committing myself to Ruth for a lifetime. I have always considered it the greatest privilege of our married life together that Kelly shared Ruth with me, and allowed me to be a part of their indescribable love.
God gave Ruth to Kelly and Kelly to Ruth. The two loved each other and helped each other be everything He created them to be. Kelly was only 21 years old when she first felt God's call on her life to care for Ruth as her own. And without hesitation or concern for the ramifications on her own future, Kelly accepted God's call to love this little girl unconditionally to the point that she moved back to Tanzania to be with her and be a part of her upbringing.
Ruth was kind, clever, pure and selfless. She was a quiet, yet giggly girl. She was going to grow up to be a doctor, and when I asked her why she wanted to be a doctor, she said "... because then I can help people who are hurting." This girl who had known so much hurt could only see the hurt in others, and she wanted to give her life to helping them.
As we mourn the loss of Ruth, we mourn the loss of her future. Together the three of us had dreamed big dreams for her life! She was going to start high school next year and we wanted to help her go to University. Privately, Kelly and I had started to discuss the possibility of Ruth living with us one day when she was old enough to make her own decisions. As we lose her today, we lose her forever.
But in the midst of our pain and heartache, we also celebrate.
We celebrate the love she received from Emmy and Ndemo at Matonyok where she grew up. We celebrate her sister Nosim who helped raise her. We celebrate her siblings at Matonyok who she cherished. We celebrate that we got to be a part of her life and we'll never forget her. We celebrate that I was able to see her just a few months ago to share with her in person that she'd have a baby sister this summer. We celebrate the conversations we've had about Jesus and how much she loved reading the Bible we gave two years ago. We celebrate that she was recently confirmed in the Lutheran Church with her dear friend Yohanna. And most of all, we celebrate that she's in heaven with Jesus and with her birth mother who she's never known. And that is worth celebrating.
For more information or to give a gift in Ruth's honor, please go to: https://www.gofundme.com/ruthndemno