British Columbia

Mom preserves son's legacy by publishing his children's book after his death

Shawn Eastland died in a car crash nearly a decade ago and now his mom Karen has published the children's book he wrote before he died.

Shawn Eastland died in a car crash in February 2010, shortly after writing and sketching i am I

Karen Eastland with her late son, Shawn Eastland. (Submitted by Karen Eastland)

Years have passed since Karen Eastland lost her 26-year-old son Shawn, but she hopes the recent publication of a children's book he wrote and sketched shortly before he died will continue his legacy. 

Shawn Eastland died in a car crash on Feb. 5, 2010. Karen, who had been living in Sicamous, B.C. at the time, said her son had finished writing a book for children that attempted to address the big questions children ask about themselves: the who, what, when, where and why am I?

"[Shawn] loved kids and he wanted them to know to be confident in themselves, to enjoy being a kid, to explore their curiosity, and know that they are perfect exactly the way they are," Eastland said. 

In the years since his death, Karen says various people involved with his book have been processing their grief.

"Grief is a very curious process," Eastland said. "And everybody that was involved with the book was experiencing, you know, their own heartache and their own process and healing, and that manifests differently for everybody."

An illustration by Shawn Eastland on the back cover of his children's book, called i am I, which has been published posthumously. (Submitted by Karen Eastland)

When the original artist attached to the project wasn't able to complete it, Eastland sought out another, Erin Parchoma, and showed her Shawn's storyboards. 

"She managed to synthesize his work and breathe life into it," Eastland said. Another friend of Shawn's did the layout of the book.

"It wasn't anybody's full-time gig. You know, it was just everybody doing what they could and adding to the ultimate product at the end."

Listen to Karen Eastland talk with Daybreak South guest host Brady Strachan:

Eastland says the final process of publishing the book has been highly emotional. 

"The day that I went to the printer to, you know, choose the stock and the cover and what it's all going to look like, I could hardly drive," Eastland said. 

Now, with the copies of her son's book in her car and a community launch event set for this week, Eastland says she hopes one of Shawn's dreams is realized.

"To be able to bring Shawn's work to fruition was an extreme honour," she said.

A reading of Shawn's book, i am I, will take place at the Sicamous branch of the Okanagan Regional Library on Dec. 8 at noon PT.

With files from Daybreak South