A sign from above
A grieving mother pays tribute to her lost son through an inspiring debut children’s story
Rachel Noble lost her little boy Hamish after an accident at home in 2012. “He passed away at 20½ months and we miss him every single day,” says Noble, 42, a former radio producer and voice-over artist based on the Sunshine Coast. “My husband and I promised Hamish that we would honour him and love our children.”
Yet in the years that followed, Noble found that her kids were still at a loss to describe the void left by Hamish. She attempted to write a book about grief several times but saw her efforts stall until one day, in 2014, she was struck by the idea of a floating feather symbolising the connection between brothers from beyond. “I was overcome with emotion,” she wrote in a letter that accompanied her final work, Finn’s Feather, which was published in June. “And when we arrived home, there was a feather on the doorstep! It was a sign!”
Noble worked with Portland, Oregon-based illustrator Zoey Abbott to bring life to her ode to Hamish. “She asked me about his favourite food and his favourite books and included them in subtle ways, “Noble says. “I’m forever indebted to Zoey and as a result of this project, we’ve become the firmest of friends.”
Also reaching out to Noble are grateful families. At a book signing in Mississippi, an 80-yearold woman who had lost her brother when she was small recounted to Noble how she
once wandered through her childhood home hoping it would trigger a memory. “Through tears, hers and mine, she said she’d wished her mother had read her a book like this and they could have spoken of him,” Noble recalls. “She walked away with the book cradled in her arms and I think about her a lot.”
She adds, “Finn’s Feather can start healing and open conversations—it’s more than I could’ve hoped for.”
It’s also led to a new career for Noble, who has committed to writing children’s books. “To make a difference in a child’s life through literature feels like my purpose,” she says. “I really feel Hamish has led me here.”
And for her youngest son, 4-year-old Fin, Noble says they look at photos of Hamish and he asks questions about him. “I won’t lie, it’s hard sometimes,” she says, “but it’s so important to us that he knows and talks about his big brother.”
Finn’s Feather. Written by Rachel Noble and illustrated by Zoey Abbott. Published by Enchanted Lion Books. RRP $16.99.
Noble’s family of readers: Fin, 4, Fraser, 8, Mali, 13, and Bella, 15.