A Book for Everyone
How Everyone Can Relate to Mitch Albom's "The Five People You Meet in Heaven"
A lot of people may know that I am not a necessarily religious person. It is not that I do not believe in anything or have completely shut religion out of my life - it is just that it is not something I am devoted to or focused on. With that being said, one may understand my apprehensiveness when I decided to purchase The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. If you're not familiar with Mitch Albom, he is a famous writer whose stories normally revolve around heaven or some form of Christian theme. Absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. I am just someone who is not one for books that are too heavy with talking about religion.
This book, however, was an extremely pleasant surprise. It follows Eddie, an eighty-three year old war veteran turned amusement park maintenance man. On his eighty-third birthday, he passes whilst trying to save a girl from a falling cart on a malfunctioned ride. As he takes his final breath, he feels the little girls' hands, and then, nothing. He awakens in Heaven, young, healthy, and confused as ever. It is there he finds out that everyone must meet five people who explain your life on Earth. They may be relatives, friends, or complete strangers, but they are important to you whether you know it or not.
Truthfully, this book can be one that is hard to read. Not because of the language, but instead the material. This book took about a day to read, but I had to take so many breaks during it. As someone who is terrified of death and what happens afterwards, I tend to stray away from anything that talks about it. So instantly I was sort of scared of what I was about to get into. Then I read it, and it was just so heart-wrenching, sad, and honest. Honest - not in a way of which everything said in this book is true (no one can truly decipher that) - but honest in a way that there were events and feelings that everyone could resonate with. With that, let's get into some quotes I felt were important and relatable throughout this book.
On page 5, whilst talking about Eddie's life, it says,
Many times he (Eddie) had longed to leave this place, find different work, build another kind of life. But then the war came. His plans never worked out. In time, he found himself graying and wearing looser pants and in a state of weary acceptance, that this was who he was and who he would always be...
Now why would this be important? Well, I have seen a lot of people stay in their hometowns working a dead end job just because it was what they were comfortable with. In turn, they end up miserable. They just accept their fate until death takes them away. As someone who is afraid of doing exactly this, it kind of hit me hard. Not because this is necessarily the road I am going down, but because I am afraid that I will be stuck in a place with a job I am not satisfied with. I am afraid I will never get to truly live and see the world.
After Eddie get into heaven, he meets a man, the Blue Man. Now I do not want to spoil the book too much, so I plan on just introducing who he meets when there is a quote that goes along with it and leaving it at that. Anyway, the Blue Man says something that I feel like a lot of people need to hear. On page 48, he says, "Fairness does not govern life and death. If it did, no good person would ever die young." This quote was EXTREMELY important to me. When a person loses a loved one, their first thought is, "this is not fair." I know when I lost my grandma, it was my first thought. I was angry and sad and I felt like nothing made sense. You know why? Because nothing makes sense. It is not supposed to. This quote is so true. If death were fair, then good people would live forever and bad people would die young (though death should never be wished upon a person). Let's think about it, though. I mean, Charles Manson lasted until he was like, eighty-three. Sharon Tate, one of his victims who truthfully was not a mean spirit, died at twenty-six. See what I'm getting at here? Nothing is fair and it is something we all have to live with.
My next quote is on page 50, where the Blue Man says, "No life is a waste. The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone." I feel like this is pretty self explanatory. There are plenty of times where I fall into a pit where I feel like no one understands me and I am alone in this world. With that, I sulk and I sulk until I cannot sulk anymore. A lot of people do this, too. Now, obviously there are some serious reasons why someone will do this, like depression, for example. But for those of us who just are feeling a little extra lonely, it is important to remember that there are people out there for us that we just have not met yet. Spending another day sulking over how lonely we feel is another day wasted as we are not trying to actively find our people.
The second person Eddie meets is his old Captain during the war. After a discussion of losing some important people (and things), the Captain says, "Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. It's not something to regret. It's something to aspire to" (pg 93). This quote is just something that I really enjoyed. A lot of people need to make sacrifices throughout their lives. Maybe it's a mom who quits her job to stay home with the kids, or a dad who needs to skip out on eating to feed his children, or a young adult who spends their last bit of money to buy dog food instead of human food. It could even be a teacher who skips out on their planning period to make sure a student does not eat alone. Sacrifices, big and small, are important and can impact everyone for better and for worse. They are not meant to be done with selfish intent, and things do not happen for no reason at all.
The fourth person Eddie meets is his late wife. Oh yeah, here comes the tears. I am a sucker for love and these next two quotes truthfully just tugged on my heart strings. On page 155, it states, "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." As I said, I am a hopeless romantic at heart. I love love and whenever I read anything that has to do with love, I try to relate it to myself and my relationship. Love comes in many forms and it is never easy. However, it never happens without reason. Everyone in your life is there because of a purpose or to teach a lesson, at least that is what I believe. And when one finds the person they are meant to be with forever, they find their certain love. A love that can never be replaced, a love that is extremely special to them. Something only the parties involved can understand. That is the beauty of it.
This last quote is on page 164. It says, "Love, like rain, can nourish from above, drenching couples with a soaking joy. But sometimes, under the angry heat of life, love dries on the surface and must nourish from below, tending to its roots, and keeping itself alive." Now this I feel like all people in relationships, young and old, should keep in mind or be reminded of. Love can come fast and heavy. I mean, that is what the honeymoon phase is, right? And once you are out of this phase, been with the person a while, love can feel dull. Life will wear and tear you both down and maybe you might even feel like the spark is gone. But, it is very, very important to remember that love does not just disappear like that. A relationship needs work, and you cannot rely on the early feelings to just fix it itself. You and your partner both need to dig deep inside and remind yourselves, heck, even do little things, to keep the love between you both!
Okay, enough about the quotes. If you could not tell by now, I LOVED this book. I feel like it has a lot of lessons and more quotes that everyone has experienced or seen happen. It can be lighthearted and heartbreaking all at the same time. The best part, though, is it gets you to reflect on your own life. Despite what you do or do not believe in, the important take away is there is something for everyone inside of this one hundred and ninety-four page book.