All the characters within the novel are connected in unexpected ways, even when their lives are separate and they don’t ever meet on earth. Eddie barely remembers the Blue Man, and yet he caused his death and became a memorable part of the Blue Man’s understanding of his own life on Earth. Eddie’s time in the war was marked forever by his haunting memory of a shadow in the village fire he started, which he hoped wasn’t a human. Yet in death, when he learns that the shadow was a little girl named Tala, and that he did kill her, he also learns that she was the one who saved him and brought him to heaven. Eddie never met Ruby during his life, as she was much older and they weren’t directly related, but the amusement park where Eddie works all his life, Ruby Pier, was built for Ruby by her husband. Ruby feels connected to Eddie, as she was present in the shared hospital room when Eddie’s father died. After Ruby died, she watched Eddie from heaven, and feels connected to the pain Eddie and others experienced at Ruby Pier, as she feels responsible for the park’s existence.
Another important thing Eddie learns about human connection is that connections made in life remain after death, through memory as well as the connection between heaven and earth. Eddie feels alone after the death of his wife, Marguerite, but when he meets her in heaven she compels him to see that their connection wasn’t severed after death—only transformed. “Lost love,” she tells him, “is still love.” While Eddie’s memories of his father’s abuse haunt him throughout his life, his memories of his mother’s love and warmth stay with him as well. Indeed, Eddie’s memories of those he loves keep him company even after those loved ones have died. In this context, connections that seem insignificant take on great meaning. Eddie’s relationship with his co-worker Dominguez may seem professional, but after Eddie’s death, Dominguez is the person who best keeps Eddie’s memory alive on Earth.
An important part of the interconnectedness of human life is, Eddie learns, the necessity of sacrifice. If everyone is connected, then almost any action can cause suffering to someone else, but one’s own suffering is also often a necessary part of helping someone else. The Blue Man doesn’t lament that he died after trying to avoid crashing into Eddie, who ran in front of the Blue Man’s car as a child. Rather, the Blue Man sees his death as a sacrifice that allowed Eddie to live. Similarly, the Captain doesn’t regret dying while saving his unit from captivity, and he tells Eddie not to feel sorry for himself for losing his leg in the war. He tells him, “Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.” The Captain chooses to make his heaven the peaceful rejuvenation of the jungle battleground—as if heaven means knowing that his earthly sacrifices led to peace and new life for others. Making a sacrifice for someone else thus more deeply entwines the fate of the giver with the receiver, creating a special connection that survives even after death.
The Connection Between All Humans ThemeTracker
The Connection Between All Humans Quotes in The Five People You Meet in Heaven
It might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.
For the rest of his life, whenever he thought of Marguerite, Eddie would see that moment, her waving over her shoulder, her dark hair falling over one eye, and he would feel the same arterial burst of love.
People think of heaven as a paradise garden, a place where they can float on clouds and laze in rivers and mountains. But scenery without solace is meaningless. This is the greatest gift God can give you: to understand what happened in your life.
Sometimes you have to do things when sad things happen.
You are here so I can teach you something (…) That you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.
It is because the human spirit knows, deep down, that all lives intersect. That death doesn’t just take someone, it misses someone else, and in the small distance between being taken and being missed, lives are changed.
Strangers (…) are just family you have yet to come to know.”
No life is a waste (…) The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.
Young men go to war. Sometimes because they have to, sometimes because they want to. Always, they feel they are supposed to. This comes from the sad, layered stories of life, which over the centuries have seen courage confused with picking up arms, and cowardice confused with laying them down.
As always with Marguerite, Eddie mostly wants to freeze time.
Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.
Sometimes when you sacrifice something, 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 privately adored his father, because sons will adore their fathers through even the worst behavior. It is how they learn devotion. Before he can devote himself to God, or a woman, a boy will devote himself to his father, even foolishly, even beyond explanation.
Religion? Government? Are we not loyal to such things, sometimes to the death? (…) Better to be loyal to one another.
What people find then is a certain love. And Eddie found a certain love with Marguerite, a grateful love, a deep and quiet love, but one that he knew, above all else, was irreplaceable. Once she’d gone (…) he put his heart to sleep.
That was my choice (…) A world of weddings, behind every door. Oh, Eddie, it never changes, when the groom lifts the veil, when the bride accepts the ring (…) They truly believe their love and their marriage is going to break all the records…
And in that line now was a whiskered old man (…) who waited in a place called the Stardust Band Shell to share his part of the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.