Sarah was sad

By Rev. Sam Trumbore

The sun streaming in through her white lace curtains onto her pillow woke Sarah early. She reached out for her best friend Patches on the bed. He wasn't curled up in the small of her back as he usually was. Then, she remembered. Patches had died peacefully under the water heater just a few days before. Sarah felt very lonely.

Patches, a old black and white tabby with splashes of orange and a thick belly, had been her friend almost from the day she was born. Sarah's mother had told her patches would curl up near her door at night when she was a baby. If Sarah fussed, Patches would run to her parents room and jump up onto their bed to warn them. Sarah could remember playing soccer with Patches. She would roll a ping pong ball towards him and he would bat it away. During the summer, they played hide and seek in the family's vegetable garden İ until her mother caught and scolded them. Patches had been such a wonderful playmate.

Sarah dressed slowly and gathered her halfİfinished homework for Mrs. Rogers second grade class. She dragged herself down the stairs a step at a time. Her father greeted her at the breakfast table. Sarah tried to smile as she said "Morning daddy" but could only raise the corners of her mouth a little bit. Her father had made her favorite breakfast: Strawberry pancakes with maple syrup. She ate a few bites but found she just wasn't hungry.

Her father noticed she wasn't eating and said "Sarah, are you still sad that patches is gone?"

Sarah looked up from her plate and moaned "Yes, I will never ever have a friend as great as Patches."

Her father smiled and stroked her hair back behind her ears. "We will just have to wait and see about that." he said. "Your mother and I thought you might enjoy a trip out to see your grandfather after school today."

Sarah's face lit up all at once. A visit to Grandfather's farm on the edge of town was a very special treat. He had horses and pigs and cows and ducks and chickens and and a big haystack to jump in! Then Sarah remembered that she as still sad and let her face droop again.

"I don't know if I'll feel like it", she said.

"Let's wait and see how you feel when you get home from school today." said her father helping her on with her wind breaker and handing Sarah her lunch.

School went by very slowly that day. Sarah couldn't listen to the teacher like she normally could. She kept looking out the window and thinking either about Patches or about seeing grandfather after school. She didn't play four-square during recess as usually did with her friends but sat by herself and watched instead.

Sarah was still sad.

When she got home from school, her mother hugged her and asked, "Do you want to drive out to grandfather's farm?"

Sarah was still sad but said, "I guess so." Her father had left work early just so they could go as a family.

So they got into their red van and started off. They passed the bakery with all its yeasty smells. They passed a patch of daffodils. They even had to pull over to let a fire truck go by. But Sarah didn't notice. Sarah was still sad.

As they turned in the long driveway, their nostrils were filled by the smell of manure and sounds of animal life. They saw a mare trotting around the field being chased by her colt. The cows silently chewed grass and watched them drive in. A mother pig was sleeping surrounded by noisy piglets. Grandfather was standing on the porch waving. Sarah pressed her nose to the window and waved back.

When they had stopped, Sarah jumped down out of the van and ran to grandfather. He caught her in his arms and lifted her up for a big kiss and a hug. After greeting her parents, he suggested that they might take a walk together. This thrilled Sarah for she loved taking walks with grandfather.

Spring had just come to the meadows around the farm so there was much to discover as they walked. Sarah asked about the names of the seedlings just poking their heads up to the sky. Her grandfather knew them all. Suddenly they found a dead fieldmouse on the ground. Sarah sadly asked "Grandfather, why do animals have to die?"

Grandfather began to look more serious. "Well Sarah, I asked that too when your grandmother died. That happened before you were born. I don't think I have any answers, even though I've lived all these years. But it does make some sense. Why if the cows and the horses lived forever, there would be so many of them that they would eat all the grass and go hungry. If the flowers were always there, I doubt we'd find them special. And besides, when I lose a favorite pig or horse, I remember the piglets and colts. It still hurts each time mind you, but knowing there will be others to care for helps ease the pain."

Sarah nodded and they looked knowingly at each other. Grandfather always seemed to be able to put things in a way that made her feel better. As they walked back to the house stepping over the cow pies, they heard a sound behind them. Sarah turned to look and fell back as a beagle puppy bounded onto her chest and started licking her face getting muddy footprints all over her favorite lavender jacket. Grandfather laughed as he picked her up and explained that Firecracker had recently had puppies. Sarah was a little offended by this puppy's rudeness and scolded him. The puppy tilted his head, wagged his tail and tagged along after them as they returned to the farmhouse for dinner.

All during dinner the puppy sat under the table near Sarah's feet. When she looked under the table, the puppy would lick her leg. As her parents were preparing to go, grandfather asked Sarah, "Do you want to take Oliver home with you? He's the last one and he needs a good home."

Sarah looked into Oliver's expectant brown eyes but frowned. "I don't think I could like ANY animal the way I liked Patches." Grandfather frowned but nodded. "I understand."

As they began to drive away, Sarah looked back and saw the saddest expression on Oliver's face as he sat next to grandfather. All of a sudden she shouted to her parents "Oh stop, please stop! We can't leave without Oliver!"

When her father stopped the car, Oliver scampered as fast as he could and jumped in the open van door and into Sarah's lap covering her with kisses. Sarah was still a little sad for Patches. But now Sarah had made a new friend.

Copyright (c) 1995 by Rev. Samuel A. Trumbore, All Rights Reserved.