The Five People You Meet in Heaven

I'm guilty. After my last post, I watched two movies (Wedding Singer and The Five People You Meet in Heaven) instead of studying for my Constitutional Law class. I know I'm supposed to feel bad about myself but I don't completely feel that way because I did enjoy the movies.

I've already read "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" which was written by Mitch Albom when I was still in college. I liked the book but when I was watching the movie, I failed to remember most of the parts. So, it was as if I was rereading the book.

The book follows the story of Eddie who was a war veteran and worked as a maintenance man in an amusement park. The story started with Eddie dying. Strange as it is but Albom explained this by saying, "It might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all endings are beginnings. We just don't know it at the time..." Eddie was trying to save a little girl who was about to get crushed by a part of a broken ride. Eddie was an old man who was unsatisfied with his life. He felt trapped in the amusement park where his father also worked his whole life. He wanted to leave the place when he was younger but the nightmares of war never departed him and his broken leg, a remnant of  the war, hindered him.

“There are five people you meet in heaven. Each of us was in your life for a reason. You may not have known the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth. This is the greatest gift God can give you: to understand what happened in your life. To have it explained. It is the peace you have been searching for.”
In heaven, there were five people separately waiting for Eddie's arrival; each of them had a life lesson to impart to him. These five people will help Eddie understand and appreciate his life.

“Death doesn't just take someone, it misses someone else, and in the small distance between being taken and being missed, lives are changed.” 
The first person Eddie met was the Blue Man. The Blue Man died because while he was driving, Eddie, who was then a kid, came running after a baseball. The Blue Man swerved his car in an attempt to avoid hitting Eddie and he succeeded but then his weak heart wasn't able to contain the surprise and the adrenalin rush. Eddie indirectly caused the Blue Man's death. This part of the story intrigued me. Our actions have consequences that we are unaware of most of the time. An act that you thought was random might have cost someone's life or have substantially changed it. This suggests that in reality no act is random; everything we do no matter how insignificant it may seem leaves an imprint in the world. The Blue Man shared to Eddie that no life is a waste because good things may result from bad events. The blue man might have died but his death allowed Eddie to live. This is a recurring theme of the story, that lives are interconnected, and every man's action has a way of affecting other lives.

“Sacrifice," the captain said. "You made one. I made one. We all made them. But you were angry over yours. You kept thinking about what you lost. You didn't get it. Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. It's not something to regret. It's something to aspire to.”
The second person that Eddie met in heaven was his captain in the military. Eddie wasn't aware that their captain died during the war. While they were trying to escape the mine and Eddie was unconscious due to the bullet shot in his leg, the captain accidentally stepped on a landmine. When Eddie was released from the hospital, he just wanted to forget about what happened and didn't get in touch with his fellow war veterans. The captain taught Eddie that sacrifice is a part of life and that the beauty of sacrifice is the act itself. As what the captain said, "when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else.”

“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”
Eddie's third person in heaven was Ruby Pier, the woman whose name the amusement park where Eddie worked was named after. They've never met on Earth but Ruby witnessed the last moments of Eddie's father in the hospital because her husband and Eddie's father were in the same room. The lesson that Ruby shared is my personal favorite. It was about forgiveness. She said that, “Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that by hating someone we hurt them but hatred is a curved blade and the harm we do to others, we also do to ourselves.” She pointed out that Eddie was unsatisfied with his life not solely because of his father but also because he was not at peace with himself. He was mad at his father because of the way he treated Eddie when he was a child. Eddie wanted attention and affection but his father has another way of expressing them, not the form that Eddie wanted. The hatred he feels for his father is also making his heart feel heavier and so he was unhappy. Realizing this, Eddie allowed himself to be freed from hatred and finally forgave his father for all the hurt he caused him.

Forgiveness doesn't come easy. It should be a conscious decision to let go of the hurt and accept the person who wronged us. Although forgiveness takes time, the ability to give it is a precious gift. When we forgive others, we free ourselves from the burden brought by grudges and allow love to lead our lives.  

“People say they "find" love, as if it were an object hidden by a rock. But love takes many forms and it is never the same for any man and woman. What people find then is a CERTAIN love.” 
Marguerite, the love of Eddie's life, his wife, was his fourth person in heaven. She died of brain tumor. Eddie never completely accepted her death and even after she died, Eddie loved no other woman but her. Marguerite taught Eddie that love is eternal and even if people dear to you died, you continuously love them. That kind of love is still love for as what Marguerite said, “Lost love is still love. It takes a different form, that's all. You can't see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those sense weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it." Life might end but love doesn't.

“There are no random acts. We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.”
Tala, a Filipina child who was in a nipa hut that Eddie burned when they escaped from the Japanese who held them as war prisoners, was Eddie's fifth person. Eddie had been consistently visited by nightmares of the burning nipa hut and the shadow that he saw inside it. When he saw Tala, his fear was confirmed; there was actually a person inside the hut and he caused her death. Tala told Eddie that his life was significant because of the work that he'd done as a maintenance worker at the amusement park. Eddie was surprised because it was the work that he loathed and thought of as very insignificant. But Tala expressed that if not for Eddie, people and children could have died from the rides. Eddie, then, kept people's lives safe from danger. Albom is trying to tell us that we are all significant, no matter how lowly we think of ourselves, our jobs, or our life. This also teaches us that a mistake we committed in the past doesn't make us a totally horrible person because we can compensate for them. For instance, Eddie made up for Tala's death by working at the amusement park. By being the maintenance worker, Eddie had atoned for Tala's death even though he was not conscious about it. "Children," she said. "You keep them safe. You make good for me."

Albom may be wrong about his perception of heaven or he may be right. We will never know. What's important is not really what he thinks of heaven, but it is the reality that his book mirrors. YOU are Eddie. I am Eddie. We are all Eddie. We go through our day-to-day lives thinking that we are not making any significant contribution to the world, that our life is such a waste, or that we wish to start our lives anew because we regret a lot of things. We all commit the mistake of thinking that there is a perfect life that is free from hurt, loss, and remorse that's why we end up wishing for that perfect life instead of trying to appreciate the life that we have despite the imperfections. We should find meaning in every little things we do, in every person we interact with, in every place we walk on, that way we can truly LIVE LIFE. There is no need for us to wait until heaven calls us to meet five people just to understand our life's significance. We can do that right now. After all, we have control over our lives and we can make sense of our purpose.


All in all, I really loved the book and the movie almost completely resembles the book. I would recommend it for those people who enjoy soul searching and contemplating about his life but not so much to the average movie watchers for they might find it a bit dragging, boring even. As for me, I'd love to watch the movie again because I want to be reminded of its rich life lessons. I'll let you in on the secret of heaven according to Albom, "Each (story) affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.” You have the power to affect and change someone's life even without being aware of it. Exercise cautiousness in the things you do and remember that you can never go wrong when you spread love.




*Mitch Albom has a lot of priceless quotations that can change the way you look at life. You can read some of them here: http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2561472-the-five-people-you-meet-in-heaven?auto_login_attempted=true

4 comments:

  1. You write well, Maris. Keep it up! :)

    Also, Five People You Meet in Heaven is one of my favorite books. :)

    http://prinsesaonthego.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Sarah! Thank you for the kind words and for dropping by. It's one of my favorite books too! :))

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  2. I like the design of your blog... Just the right font and nice color choice, as if I am just staring in a stationery.

    I also have read this book but I still prefer the tuesdays with morrie. I don't remember the exact story though and I am curious of its movie. I haven't watched it yet. This is the first book I have read where i've found the Philippines mentioned.

    Maybe this is the book where the there is a phrase that "Parents can damage their children"

    ~" Sa Mata ng Isang Probinsiyana "~

    .

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    1. Hi Teri! Thank you for the feedback on my blog design. I checked your blog and I actually like the clean layout of your blog too. :))

      I've also read Tuesdays with Morrie but Five People You Meet in Heaven is more special for me. Reading the book was such a great journey for my soul that's why I really love it. It's also fascinating how Albom mentioned the Philippines! In Paulo Coehlo's Eleven Minutes, there was also a Filipina character. It's an interesting book too. :)

      You're right, it's in Five People where it was expressed how all parents damage their children. It's one of the lines that struck me while reading the book.

      Thanks for dropping by! :))

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