The Five People You Meet in Heaven
When Eddie was a child, he played at Ruby Pier every day with his older brother and friends. He began working there as a teenager under the supervision of his father. After he returned from his stint in the army he resumed his life at the pier. His father died and he had to support his mother and give up his dreams of becoming an engineer. Later, Eddie got married to Marguerite. They lived their lives happily until Eddie’s 39th birthday, when Marguerite was involved in a car accident that landed her in the hospital for several months. After she was released, doctors found that she had a brain tumor.
Marguerite died a few years later. Eddie lived the rest of his life in remote solitude, keeping his job at Ruby Pier to keep him busy. He hobbled around the pier on his titanium-filled knee. It is here that he meets his ultimate end attempting to save the life of a little girl about to die on a broken ride. Eddie’s first meeting in Heaven harkens back to the days of his youth, playing at Ruby Pier as a young boy. Running to retrieve a ball thrown into the street one day, he stepped in front of a car, causing the driver to swerve and crash.
In Heaven, it is revealed that the driver was “The Blue Man,” or Joseph Corvelzchik. As a young man, embarrassed by incontinence, Joseph had resorted to a primitive medicinal measure. This caused his skin to turn blue and lost him his job. Eventually he found employment at Ruby Pier, where he was considered as the best freak in the entire show. The Blue Man explains that when Eddie retrieved his ball from the street, the sudden stop had given him a heart attack. While he harbors no ill will toward Eddie for this, they are connected to each other in Heaven because Eddie affected his life from that point on.
The second person Eddie meets is “The Captain,” Eddie’s commanding officer in the Philippines during World War II. In life, the Captain had made a promise to his troops: No man gets left behind. He makes good on this promise one day by saving Eddie’s life, shortly after which he is killed by a land mine. His lesson was about sacrifices. Ruby is the third person Eddie meets. As a young woman, Ruby’s husband Emile sought to capture her eternal youth and the happiness of their marriage by building an amusement park in her name: Ruby Pier.
Ruby recounts to Eddie the fateful story of the near-complete destruction of Ruby Pier: for Independence Day, Emile hired extra workers and used fireworks to draw extra customers. However, some of the “roustabouts” were drinking one night and began setting off fireworks, causing a fire that almost burned the entire pier to the ground. In a frantic attempt to save his life’s work, Emile tried to extinguish the fire with buckets of water. In the process he was critically injured and ended up in the same hospital room with Eddie’s father. Because of this, she is able to recount to him his father’s final living moments.
Ruby helps Eddie understand the importance of forgiveness. Eddie’s fourth meeting is with Marguerite, his wife. Eddie recalls their life together, simple but happy, until the events of Eddie’s 39th birthday. That day he won $800 at the track and called Marguerite to tell her the good news. She did not respond positively. Out of spite Eddie put all his winnings on the next race. Marguerite then attempted to drive to the track to apologize for yelling at him on his birthday, but she never made it — instead, a terrible car accident put her in the hospital.
After that tragic event, Eddie and Marguerite’s marriage changed. They often sat in silence that was permeated by sullen tension. As time passed, however, they were eventually able to overcome their emotional disconnection and became loving companions once again. However, only a few years later, Marguerite died of a brain tumor. In Heaven, Marguerite teaches him about their love, bringing him consolation; Eddie had felt as though she had been taken from him too early and that their love was torn to pieces. During the war, Eddie was held captive in the Philippines by a troop of Japanese soldiers.
After he and his fellow captives were able to escape, he set fire to their barracks. As he watched a straw hut burn to the ground, he thought he saw the shape of a small child inside and thought he heard screaming. Unsure if what he saw was real or a hallucination, he tried to run into the hut to save the child but was stopped, shot in the leg by his captain, thus saving Eddie’s life. After talking with his Captain, Eddie believes he did have a hallucination and there was no child. The girl in the hut was Tala, and she is the fifth person Eddie meets in heaven.
She teaches him that he had a big role in keeping people safe at Ruby Pier and should know that his life was useful in many ways. He washes her in a pond with a magical rock that wipes away her burns from the fire and her skin becomes freshly clean. Eventually, Eddie drifts away to his own personal heaven: Ruby Pier; filled with all the people born and unborn who were saved thanks to Eddie’s watchful eye when it came to maintaining rides. He reunites with Marguerite atop a ferris wheel, where he waits for a girl that he saved before he died.