The idea for Always There
A true story by: Carol Ann Albright-Eastman
(Names are changed to protect the innocent.)
When I was in fifth grade, I had a little boyfriend, “Tim.” Once a month, at the fifth grade roller skating parties, “Tim” and I couple-skated and didn’t let go of each other’s hands after the couple-skate ended. “Tim” and I often held hands for the duration of the skating party. Then, with about 10 minutes left of the skating party, he and I went into the coatroom, among the many different coats, and kissed each other, while “Totally Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler or “Baby Come To Me,” by Patti Austin and James Ingram played in the background, signaling the last romantic skate of the night. This happened once a month in fifth grade, starting in October of 1983 and ending in February of 1984.
On February 24, 1984, my dad died. I was ten-years-old at the time. At the March skating party, “Tim” and I skated as usual, but when it was time to go into the coatroom for our monthly kiss, I refused. He and my friends were confused. I just merely told them, “My father is watching me now.” From that moment on, I always felt that my dad was watching over me, and I didn’t want to do anything that would upset or disappointment him. I lived my life pretty wholesomely and used that same line many times thereafter.
Then one day, about half way through high school, my friend actually asked, “But what if he’s not?” I blew off the question as asinine and irrelevant, but always kept it at the back of my head. What if our loved ones aren’t watching over us?
When my mother was sick, terminally ill, and nearing death, we gave her messages to give to our dad. That is when I was struck with the idea of my book. What if the people in Heaven, our loved ones, just sit in Heaven waiting for new people to die and fill them in on the happenings here on Earth? What if we are their real-life soap operas, and they just wait to learn how our lives turn out and what happens to us?
After my mom died, I spent many nights lying in my bed trying to determine what I would want her sisters, my aunts, to tell her when they finally met up with her. I wondered how they would spin the tales of my life to her and my father. It became important for me to reach my goals and live my life in a way that would make both of my parents proud of the job they did while they were still here, guiding me, teaching me, and loving me. It almost gave me more comfort to think that they weren’t watching every mistake and mishap, but were filled in on the happy, successful end results. Losing a parent is excruciating and horrifying; losing both parents before you turn 21-years-old is debilitating and earth-shattering. I needed something, anything, to keep me going and put my life, the life the both of them created, on the right track. Now that my 40th birthday is nearing, I’ve realized that I have in fact lived my life the way my parents would’ve wanted me to. I took the lessons they taught me and let those lessons guide me into a loving mother, devoted wife, compassionate teacher, and faithful friend—just as my mom and dad had taught me.
Carol Ann Albright-Eastman is a wife and mother of four, crazy, adorable, incorrigible, intelligent, kind, and athletic children. She’s taught high school English for fifteen years. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English from The Ohio State University, a teaching license and a communications minor from the University of Akron, and holds a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Akron.
Eastman spends the majority of her time grading papers, reading, but not as voraciously as other “indie” authors and their devout followers, watching her sons play baseball (or whatever seasonal sport they’re in at the time), negotiating futilely with a toddler, and falling deeper in love with her husband every day. Eastman is a motherless and fatherless daughter, but a day doesn’t go by that she doesn’t think of them. She misses her mother and is grateful to her for teaching her about the importance of true love and lasting friendships. If you’d like to contact Eastman, then please feel free to email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For readers who loved The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day, or The Shack.
This novel, Always There, will stay with you long after you read the last word, making you question what you've always believed or wanted to believe. The novel takes you where no other work of literature has ventured before, leaving you with a sense of hope, comfort, and peace for the future.
In this fresh, poignant novel, Always There, Shelby Lynn LeeMaster grapples with her recent “orphaned” life and how to let down her guard to fully experience true love, allowing it in to her heart without fear. The mother, Betheny LeeMaster, struggles with dying before she could teach and guide her children into adulthood. The daughter cannot break free from her own fears, while the mother cannot forgive herself for leaving her children too soon. The different narrators, the mother in Heaven and the daughter on Earth, tell their stories in alternating chapters. Can the two women reconcile their fears and remorse before it’s too late, and before Shelby loses the one man she’s destined to be with?
Comment on this post for a chance to win your choice of a Nook or Kindle formatted copy of Always There. Be sure to include your email addy so Carol Ann can contact you if you are the winner.
Giveaway ends May 25th.