Choices

When people ask me to define love, I say, "Love is like handing someone a gun, having them point it at your heart, and trusting them to never pull the trigger." (Sponge Bob)

When they ask me why I laugh at my mistakes and even write them with pride in my blogs, I say, "I'm not crazy. I just don't give a damn!" (Daffy Duck)

When one time I was conducting a group activity, a student asked what road sign I love the most, I said, "I like dead end signs. I think they're kind. They at least have the decency to let you know you're going nowhere…" (Bugs Bunny)

And when for the nth time a friend would ask me what do I get from writing, I'm not even sure if there are good old souls out there visiting my site, I just smile and say, "Kung gusto mong maging manunulat, eh di magsulat ka. Simple." (Bob Ong)

And last night when Eva said she wants to quit from her work because nobody believes in her, her boss got mad at her, she doesn't even have friends at her agency, and she's crying like hell, I said, "Either you stay to prove your worth or you quit and just show them you're a loser, you have to strive for your happiness." (MY original)

My CHOICES: I remained believing in love. I continued spicing up my mistakes and rewriting my life, accepting failure but keep on dreaming until words would fade into thin air.

Jul 17, 2008

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

"All endings are also beginnings. We just don't know it at the time…"

From the author of the phenomenal number one bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie, comes this enchanting, beautifully written novel that explores a mystery only heaven can unfold.

Eddie is a grizzled war veteran who feels trapped in the toil of his father before him, fixing rides at the seaside amusement park. As the park has changed over the years – from the Loop-the-Loop to the Pipeline Plunge – so, too, has Eddie changed, from the optimistic youth to the embittered old age. The war left him wounded. His days tumbled into one another, a mix of loneliness, regret and sad dreams of what could have been.

Then, on his eighty-third birthday, Eddie dies in a tragic accident, trying to save a little girl from a falling cart. With his final breath, he feels two small hands in his – and then nothing. He awakens in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a lush Garden of Eden, but a place where your earthly life is explained to you by five people who were in it. These people may have been loved ones or distant strangers. Yet each of them changed their path forever.

As the story builds to its stunning conclusion, Eddie desperately seeks redemption in the still unknown last act of his life: Was it a heroic success or a devastating failure? The answer, which comes from the most unlikely of sources, is as magical and inspirational as a glimpse of heaven itself.

In The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom gives us an astoundingly original story that will change everything we have ever thought of about afterlife – and the meaning of our lives here on earth.

(taken from the book)

Last March, I was looking for an inspirational book where I can lift a passage or two to be my springboard for my pep talk. I ran my fingers through the Mihalic collection in the library and browsed through their pages. I copied a line and related it to my topic which is ending up the school year with a bang! And welcoming the summer with God still the center. Ain't that cool stuff? I really am a product of a Catholic school from pre-elementary to college and now working as a counselor in a school ran by ICM sisters.

In the process though, I opened up my concern to our principal and she so generously handed me a pile of books (as in a real pile because it took me two days to just look into the gist of each book). From there, I borrowed Tuesdays with Morrie not for my talk but for the summer (2007, so this makes a delayed entry) but I only found time reading it just almost a month ago. Falling in love with Mitch, I walked myself to the library and asked if they have other books written by him. And so our librarian handed me The Five People You Meet in Heaven which a read at once though I was still finishing the last two chapters of Morrie.

The book didn't fail me. just a few leaves away from the cover page, I was already crying. And mind you, I was in the bus when my tears kept on welling from my eyes and I told myself, "To hell with the rest of the passengers!", who were unabashedly staring at me like I'm some kind of an alien from an unknown pit of corny lunatics.

And to blow your bubble (of those who haven't read the book yet), here are the five people Eddie met in heaven and the lessons each of them has imparted to Eddie, of course unknowingly to him. Aren't we all like that? We usually lack the wisdom to read between the events happening to us and question why these things happen to us – blaming the Lord and other people for our own glamorous mistakes. I am guilty I must admit of this mortal felony.

The Blue Man who worked with young Eddie's father in the amusement park was his first person. Eddie didn't know him personally, but Eddie caused his death. How? I will leave it to your own reading for some thrill if you plan to read the book.

Lesson:

That there are no random acts. That we are all connected. That you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.

The second person Eddie meets in heaven is the Captain of the troop he belonged to when he was a soldier and fought during the World War II in the Philippines (this is one thing I liked in the book, our country played a very important role in the main character's life – not simply important, but it caused the entire twist in Eddie's life).

Lesson:

Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. It's something to aspire to. Little sacrifices. Big sacrifices… Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else.

Eddie's third person is Ruby whose name is written on the wrecked arc at the entrance of the pier leading to the amusement park where Eddie works. She was the woman of whom the original owner – her husband – offered the park as sign of his undying love. Eddie doesn't know her. His only recollection of her is an old worn-out picture of her stacked with other grease-covered stuff in the pier's store room.

Lesson:

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…

Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves. Forgive.

Why did she say this? My stand though remains the same, get a copy of the book so you get to experience the same intense feelings as I did. I might ruin the track if I make a recount of the story.

Marguerite is Eddie's fourth person – his wife. She died young, forty-seven. She died because of some drunken irresponsible kids. But Eddie thought then that he caused her death. So his life crumbled into a meaningless monochromatic hubbub.

Lesson:

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 senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.

Life has to end. Love doesn't.

And the fifth person Eddie got to meet in heaven is Tala – the small shadow inside the nipa hut Eddie set on fire after he and his comrades escaped from their captors. When he saw her outline beyond the dancing flames, he ran through the fire and wanted to save whoever was there, but the Captain feared for his life, so he stopped him by shooting his leg (Gosh! I really can't help it... at least to your advantage, I have related a bit of the Captain's significance in Eddie's life so you have to read on).

Lesson:

Children. You keep them safe. You make good for me.

Is where you're supposed to be.

Intrigued with the last of Eddie's five lessons? Again, as I have said, you need to read the book. I bet, you'll have the same realization as Eddie did and I did.

How about you, who do you think would your five people be? And what lessons in life do you think they carry along with them?

Mine… I will have to make another entry. This is already quite a long one.

"Heaven is when you get to make sense of your yesteryears."

4 comments:

SandyCarlson said...

Nice review. I used this book with a high school Sunday school class a few years back. It got the kids to look at how we live and how we affect each other. It's a great conversation starter.

CyberCelt said...

I have been meaning to read this. I loved Tuesdays with Morrie. Thanks for not giving everything away.

Lindsay said...

Just an FYI...Marguerite didn't die from the accident with the bottle thrown over the overpass, as you stated. She had a long recovery, they lost the child they would have adopted, and they had a long period in their relationship where their love had to "nourish from its roots" until the love could "rain from above" again. Quite a bit of time passed. Later, at age 47, she developed a brain tumor which killed her. It never specifies nor implies that the accident caused the tumor.

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