This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" by Mitch Albom. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.
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Who is Marguerite in The Five People You meet in Heaven? What is her role and relation to Eddie?
Marguerite in The Five People You Meet in Heaven is Eddie’s wife, who died young. Eddie has spent years blaming himself and feeling bitter over Marguerite’s death, and Marguerite in the Five People You Meet in Heaven helps him leave those feelings behind.
Marguerite in The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Marguerite in The Five People You Meet in Heaven is Eddie’s wife. She died young and in his afterlife, Eddie has to deal with his unresolved feelings regarding her death.
Eventually, Eddie starts to open the doors. Each one opens into a different wedding reception, seemingly in a different country. The first wedding might have been German or Swedish. The next door takes him to a Spanish wedding. He sees weddings in what he guesses to be Africa, China, and France. Each of these celebrations has different music and different customs. But to Eddie, they’re all pretty much the same.
Eddie avoided wedding receptions in life. He found them embarrassing. He didn’t want to dance or participate. If he had to go, he chose to stand in the parking lot smoking a cigarette. Now, walking through heaven in his maintenance clothes, he visits each of these weddings and wonders how this has to do with him.
The final wedding he sees seems to be in Italy. He looks around the crowd and sees a beautiful young woman passing out candied almonds asking “Per l’amaro e il dolce?” or “For the bitter and the sweet?” The woman’s voice is almost too much for Eddie to handle. He drops to the floor and whispers “Marguerite.” She responds, “For the bitter and the sweet.”
Eddie’s Eighteenth Birthday
This year, Eddie’s cake is decorated with the words “Good luck! Fight hard!” Eddie is playing with his little cousins when the door opens and Marguerite walks in from the rain. She has brought him a birthday gift—a going away gift—and the sight of her holding it gives Eddie butterflies. He wonders if this is a weakness that he shouldn’t take to war.
Later that night, after celebrating his birthday with the family, Eddie takes Marguerite for a walk along the Ruby Pier boardwalk. They eat taffy and play games and hold hands. It’s like a scene from a movie.
All night, there has been something on Eddie’s mind that he hasn’t been able to ask. Finally, Marguerite in The Five People You Meet in Heaven saves him from the awkwardness of having to ask: She promises to wait for him. Just as the rain starts to fall, she asks Eddie to come home safely. He isn’t sure if it’s tears or rainwater rolling down her cheeks.
Eddie’s Thirty-Eighth Birthday
Joe is sitting in Eddie’s maintenance shop showing him a new battery-operated drill. Joe is a hardware salesman now, and makes three times as much money as Eddie does. Eddie has taken the promotion to head of maintenance at Ruby Pier, his dad’s old job. Eddie resents it and wishes he could switch places with Joe.
Marguerite in The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes to the door of the shop wearing her Ruby Pier uniform. Seeing her in the red vest and beret makes Eddie embarrassed in front of Joe. But Marguerite smiles and asks Eddie to step outside with her. When he does, there is a group of children waiting to shout happy birthday to him.
Eddie is touched. He loves seeing Marguerite around children. He knows it’s a shame that she can’t bear any of her own. She’s been asking him to consider adoption, but he feels they’re too old.
Marguerite and the kids light 38 candles on top of the messy cake. A child pokes Eddie and tells him to blow them all out and once. He looks at his wife and says “I will.” Marguerite takes a Polaroid photo of the moment.
Eddie stares at Marguerite and cannot believe that it’s really her. She holds his hand and assures Eddie that it is really her, and he cries on her shoulder.
Every man and woman has a certain kind of love, one of love’s many forms. Eddie’s love for Marguerite in The Five People You Meet in Heaven was grateful and deep, but also quiet. After he lost her, the rest of his days were dull. Now, Eddie is standing in front of his wife again. She is as young and beautiful as on their wedding day, not old and suffering like she was toward the end of her life. She asks him to take a walk and lifts him effortlessly off of his injured knee. Eddie is tongue-tied.
Marguerite motions around the Italian village they walk through. She says that she wanted a heaven with weddings behind every door because she loves to see the look of wonder in the eyes of the bride and groom. She asks if Eddie believes they had that same sense of possibility.
- Eddie and Marguerite’s wedding took place in a small Chinese restaurant. They used the same chairs for the ceremony and the reception. There was an accordion player. Marguerite joked that they should have played bingo. When the simple reception was over, Marguerite pulled a pink sweater over her wedding dress and walked home with Eddie in the rain. They held hands, and everything felt safe.
Walking on, Eddie asks Marguerite if she also met five people and if they were able to make a difference. She says that they did. He asks if she knows about his life since her own death. Carefully, she answers that she only knows what happened when they were together and why those things happened. She also knows how much Eddie loved her.
But Marguerite doesn’t know how Eddie died. He tries to explain the ride, the accident, Dom, the little girl. It’s the most he’s spoken since arriving in heaven. She smiles and it fills him with sadness. He can only tell her that he’s sorry for his faults, and that he has missed her.
Eddie’s Thirty-Ninth Birthday
Eddie and Noel left work at Ruby Pier to gamble at the race track. Eddie won two bets early on and now has $209 dollars in his pocket. Noel is trying to convince Eddie to risk the money on another bet and win more money for their future child. Eddie feels guilty about gambling his money now that he and Marguerite are planning to adopt. But he places a bet on a horse named Jersey Finch anyway.
Just in the knick of time, Jersey Finch pulls ahead. Eddie has won over $800! He’s excited, so he wants to call his wife and tell her the good news. Noel tries to warn Eddie that Marguerite might not take the news well. That turns out to be true.
On the phone, Marguerite tells Eddie that he has to stop behaving this way. Eddie is angry about the fight and passes his winnings through the window to place another bet. He knows it’s not a good idea.
What Eddie doesn’t know is that Marguerite has decided to come to the track to apologize for fighting with him on his birthday. She gets in the car and drives toward the race track. Up ahead on an overpass, two drunk teenagers are throwing their empty liquor bottles down onto the street below. Marguerite is thinking about Eddie when one of the bottles smashes through her windshield.
Marguerite’s accident sends her to the hospital. She is confined to her bed for months. As a result, they have to give up on the adoption. For many years, Eddie and Marguerite live under the shadow of that disappointment and blame.
In time, Eddie and Marguerite found new ways to speak to each other again and their love grew back.
Three years later, Marguerite passed out in the kitchen. The doctors found a tumor on her brain. When it became clear that the cancer would defeat her, she told them to release her from the hospital. Eddie cooked dinner for all of their friends. Then one morning, Marguerite woke up screaming in pain and they went to the hospital where they could see the Ruby Park Ferris wheel from the parking lot.
In heaven, Eddie doesn’t need to eat or sleep, so there is no way to sense how much time has passed. But he happily spends every moment he can with Marguerite. They attend weddings and talk to each other about everything that has happened since she died. He tells her about meeting the Blue Man and the Captain, and the lessons he learned from them. Marguerite in The Five People You Meet in Heaven is happy to hear that he has made amends with his father.
One day, Eddie and Marguerite discuss all the changes at Ruby Pier. Eddie apologizes for never getting them out of there, and says that he lost himself after the war. Marguerite tries to get him to explain, but he can’t bear to tell her about his experiences.
Eddie’s Fourth Lesson from Marguerite in The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Eventually, after many talks and many weddings together, Marguerite and Eddie come back into the small round room. Marguerite sits in front of the mirror. Eddie can see her reflection, but his is still not there.
Marguerite asks Eddie if he was angry with her when she died and left him alone. He tries to deny it, but has to admit that he was angry to have to lose the woman he loved so young. She takes his hands and tells him that he didn’t lose her—she was always with him.
Marguerite explains that even though life has to end, that doesn’t mean love has to end. Lost love is still love. She assures Eddie that she could feel his love all this time, all the way in heaven.
Smiling, Marguerite opens a door and shows Eddie into a small room with an accordion player in the corner. She says that she saved this wedding for last and jokes that they should play bingo.
Eddie takes Marguerite in his arms to dance with her. She looks exactly like she did on the day of their wedding, but Eddie asks her to change into the version of herself that she was at the end of her life. To him, she is still just as beautiful. Holding her in his arms, Eddie closes his eyes and says that he doesn’t want to go on with heaven. He wants to stay here with her.
When he opens his eyes again, she is gone.
Marguerite in The Five People You Meet in Heaven is one of the most difficult people to talk to. Eddie feels sorrow and longing and regret. But Marguerite in The Five People You Meeting in Heaven helps him move on.
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Five People You Meet In Heaven summary:
- Who the Five People Eddie meets in heaven are
- What each person teaches Eddie about the meaning of his own life
- Why Eddie finally feels gratitude and closure at the end of his life