The story of The Five People You Meet in Heaven about a man named Eddie. It traces his life in the mortal world and hereafter. Eddie looks after the Ruby Pier amusement park just like his father used to. He does not enjoy his work and bears many regrets in his heart.
His knee got injured in the Second World War and limited his options to try other vocations. At 83 years of age, he is all alone as he has lost all his family. At work, though, he is adored by his colleagues and young visitors to the park.
The Final Day
Eddie is responsible for ensuring safe rides for kids at the amusement park. However, one day, an accident occurs at the park. A ride’s cart is left hanging in mid-flight due to some mechanical failure.
It is about to fall on a young girl when Eddie swoops in and tries to save her. The next moment, Eddie is transported to a completely new place.
An Escape to Paradise
In reality, Eddie dies and finds himself in Heaven. But he finds himself in a different time. He is back at the Ruby Pier but is 8 years old. Here, he meets the Blue Man, an old performer from his childhood days at the pier.
The Blue man is not congenial with Eddie and blames Eddie of his death. His died in a car accident trying to avoid hitting the onrushing and youthful Eddie. Eddie is full of compunction for the tragedy.
He enquires about the little girl he tried saving before his death but the Blue man has no answers for him. However, the Blue Man warns Eddie about more encounters and people he will have to meet before his soul departs into the afterlife.
The War and the Captain
Next, Eddie finds himself in the middle of the Second World War. He meets his old platoon Captain who has been imprisoned by the enemy soldiers. Eddie is able to rescue his Captain and other prisoners.
The Captain then decides to burn the empty village where he was imprisoned. But in the middle of the fire, Eddie hears a child crying and rushes into a burning tent in an attempt to rescue the child. But he is shot in his knee.
The Captain feels responsible for Eddie’s wound. He later dies in an explosion while escorting injured Eddie to safety. The Captain pleads Eddie to let go of his anger and forgive his own sins and mistakes.
The Stranger and the Father
Eddie is now transposed to a new location. He recognizes his father sitting inside a diner. Eddie’s father cannot hear or see him as Eddie cannot go inside the diner. As a blast from the past, Eddie remembers the alcohol-induced violence he suffered at his father’s hands.
Moving on, Eddie meets a woman named Ruby. She happens to be the wife of the man behind the opening of Ruby Pier. She talks about the circumstances surrounding the death of Eddie’s father. Eddie always thought he committed suicide after he jumped into the ocean.
However, Eddie does not know that his father was trying to save his friend. His friend was the one trying to end his life as he felt guilty for assaulting Eddie’s mother. Eddie’s father, being a loyal friend, sacrificed his own life to save his friend.
After his death, Eddie had all the responsibility of the house and had to look after his mother. Eddie could not help but take up his father’s job at the Pier.
Eddie had always resented his father for ruining his life and his anger only added to his agony. Ruby asks Eddie to let go of his anger and forgive his father. It was the only way Eddie could heal his wounds.
The Love of His Life
The next person Eddie meets is a familiar one. It is his wife, Marguerite. They had been in love with each other since their teens. But after his return from the war, they went through some tough trials.
Apart from moving in with Eddie’s mother they also found out that they could not bear children. Consequently, they decided to adopt, but Eddie gambled away the money that they had saved for the adoption.
They had a fight over it. His wife then met with a terrible car accident. She did recover but her medical bills consumed all their savings. They eventually were able to mend their differences but Marguerite did not live much longer and died at the age of 56.
Her death left Eddie all alone. Marguerite was the fourth person Eddie met. She was his true love and it is that love that kept her alive in Eddie’s heart and soul.
The Child Who Saves Eddie
The last person Eddie meets is the young girl that Eddie saved from a fire in the war. Her name is Tala. Unfortunately, she died that day. Eddie is devastated to learn about her death, but she consoles him.
She asks Eddie to wash her back just like her mother used to do. Eddie obliges. Her scars disappear as Eddie washes her back. The girl then asks Eddie about the sadness in his life.
She is like the child he and Marguerite always wanted. So, Eddie opens up to her and says that he has many regrets in his life and the biggest is that he never recognized the purpose of his life.
She reminds him that his purpose in life was to bring smiles to all the children at the amusement park and to keep them safe. She goes on to reveal that Eddie saved the little girl just before he died. Hence, he had finally redeemed himself. She further reveals that it was she who brought him to Heaven.
At last, Eddie is free from all his regrets. The weight of these regrets had been the cause for his sorrowful and plaintive existence in the World.
In the end, he finds his way back to his beloved Marguerite. In a poetic end to the story, they meet on a Ferris wheel in the sky, to spend an eternal life in Heaven.
Key Thoughts in The Five People You Meet in Heaven
The theme of the story The Five People You Meet in Heaven is that the mundane, unspectacular things in life are the ones that make all the difference in the end. It also profoundly exposes how regrets can hold back a person’s true happiness.
Furthermore, it highlights how interdependent every person is to another in this world. This connection creates a world that is replete with amazing stories.
All these stories are connected even though we act on our own- individually and separately. Therefore, it is important to rise above hate for self and others and confront our fears and regrets with forgiveness and spirit of betterment.
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