Kaden Farro was known by his friends at Turlock High School as a light in their lives — someone who always greeted them with a hug and was constantly finding new ways to make them smile or feel good about themselves. When he tragically passed last year at age 16, his mother Maureen Shamgochian knew she wanted to share that light with anyone and everyone she could reach.
Kaden’s legacy is now told through the children’s book “Heaven's a Little Closer in the Barn: Based on a True Story of Friendship, Discovery, Disappointment, and Silver Linings.” Shamgochian’s writings, which began as a coping mechanism for her grief, tell of Kaden’s remarkable character and the lessons he learned during his short, but influential life.
“When you lose a child who’s 16 years old, you feel like, ‘Wow he was an amazing human being, but no one will ever know because he just didn’t have enough time on earth.’ I felt compelled to tell his story, but didn’t want it to be a memoir or anything about his tragic death,” Shamgochian said. “I wanted it to be about the light he brought to this world — and he certainly did that.”
Following her son’s death in an ATV accident last September, Shamgochian and her family were consumed by acute grief and shock at the loss. She began writing to Kaden through his FFA journal, where he would jot down details concerning the care of his pig. While writing in Kaden’s journal helped her feel better, Shamgochian decided she needed to write with purpose.
In March, she began working on her children’s book and had completed it just two weeks later. As an English Language Development literacy specialist, she knows her way around words and the story came naturally. She was inspired by Kaden’s life — his prize-winning pig at the Stanislaus County Fair last year, his transition from high school football hopeful to agriculture enthusiast and even accomplishments by some of his closest friends.
Even Kaden’s cat is in the story, Shamgochian said.
“He was just getting into the prime of his life, getting to know himself and all of his little passions were starting to emerge in his personal life and hobbies at school,” Shamgochian said. “Anyone who knows him is like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so Kaden’ when they read it...They recognize everything in the story.”
Through Kaden’s legacy, children who read “Heaven’s Little Closer in the Barn” will learn the importance of perseverance and that things worth doing should be done well. These life lessons are brought to life thanks to illustrator Hudson Berdino, a Stanislaus State alumnus and Turlock resident who shared his talent with Shamgochian for the book.
“Hudson is miraculous. He took on a lot of work he hadn’t done before and he knew it meant a great deal. He put his heart and soul into it,” Shamgochian said.
Shamgochian hopes that families will welcome Kaden’s legacy into their homes, whether it be a parent reading aloud to their child or a THS student who wants to remember their friend. If they can learn one thing from his life, she said, it’s that we all have an impact on every person we meet.
“We all do have a story to tell and lessons that we’ve learned can lighten the load for other people. We never realize how important our interactions are with other people, and we should always consider that we might be the one positive thing that happens to a person that day. Kaden was definitely that person,” she said. “We’re a family of faith and we definitely feel that we’re going to see our son again. It’s just the waiting that is so difficult.”
“Heaven's a Little Closer in the Barn: Based on a True Story of Friendship, Discovery, Disappointment, and Silver Linings” is available for purchase on Amazon.