I wrote a few days ago about how I was looking forward to heartfelt books in 2015. Books seem to be a safe haven for me. I can escape the world for a little while and avoid reality. I can also relate to other characters and feel less alone in my journey. Even picture books can do the job for me as an adult.
I’ve been in communication with Marla about this, and I wanted to share the unique connection I have found in Marla Frazee’s The Farmer and the Clown. Actually, it’s more than a connection. It’s more like an analogy to what happened recently in my life.
I was seven years old when my sister was born, so I had pretty much established my way of life, my routine. That’s the way things were. So, I had to adapt when that little bundle of joy arrived during my first grade year. The farmer in this wordless picture book has his life and his routine settled- and then the clown bounces in.
But, the farmer makes room in his heart for the clown. The little clown grows on him, especially when the farmer realizes the clown’s heartache. He’s there for the clown. He loves the clown.
So it was with my sister. She grew on me. We had our differences- she was a girl, after all, and she was so much younger than me (or so it always felt). We had little in common to connect about growing up, as I was always too old to understand much of what was going on in her life. But, still, I was always there for her. I loved her.
And one day, the clown’s train came rolling back through. I don’t think the farmer expected it. I don’t think the clown expected it. But, nevertheless, it came.
And so it went with my sister. Her time had come. She didn’t expect it. And I certainly didn’t expect it. But, nevertheless, it came.
And with love, comes grief. When you love someone and it’s time to say goodbye, grief is unavoidable. While my heart was so glad to see the clown reunited with his family, my heart hurt for the farmer, who was left alone again.
I believe my sister’s soul was carried to heaven on angels’ wings. While the clown turned around and bid the farmer goodbye, I didn’t get that opportunity with my sister. When I left her hospital bed, I kissed her forehead and said “Don’t you dare give up on me.” And a week later, without a goodbye, she was gone.
But, Marla’s book does not end on a sad note. The final page shows us a monkey trailing not far behind the farmer. There is hope in that last image, and so I believe there is hope. As Marla told me, “I believe that your monkey is somewhere nearby.”
It is nearby- I’ve been surprised with acts of generosity, kindness, and sincerity from so many- friends from home, friends from college, authors who have sent me artwork and other inspirations, and so much more. When I start to get sad, something always taps me on the shoulder, like a little monkey and says, “It’ll be okay.”
What a gift, when a book like The Farmer and the Clown can bring us hope. I can only imagine what kinds of messages that students all around are carrying away from this treasure. Think about all the books out there doing this for people.
I am thankful that this book has shown me that there is hope in moving on.