This post is partly inspired by Mitch Albom’s novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven, but mostly by a random chick I met last weekend called Zandra. Her name may in fact have been ‘Sandra’ but with her thick German accent it came out as Zandra. Anyway, let’s leave Zandra/Sandra out of this for just a moment, and begin with the novel.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a short but stunning story that deals with casual themes such as the meaning of life and life after death. Its protagonist is an elderly man named Eddie who works as a ride operator in an amusement park. Eddie dies while trying to save a young girl from being hit by a falling cart. Most of the story takes place in Heaven (I use a capital ‘H’ from a grammatical standpoint, not a moral one) where Eddie meets five random and unexpected people who were of great importance to his life on earth. It’s been some five years since I read Albom’s novel, and I still can’t shake its brilliant questions: Who are the five people I’ll meet in Heaven? Have I met any of them yet? Or maybe I’ve met all of them? Did I know them for just a short while, or for years? Am I one of someone else’s five people? If so, what did I do for them that was so fundamental? But there’s one thing I do know after reading The Five People You Meet in Heaven: you should definitely read it too.
Two Sunday mornings ago at approximately 3am, I found myself on a toilet at Tramp nightclub without any toilet paper. After a few seconds of panic, I thought to knock on the shared wall of the cubical to my left and ask my friendly neighbour for some. I received an overwhelmingly friendly response: “Sure thing beautiful girl! Here you go! Let me know if it’s not enough.” A bony hand poked out from underneath the wall, holding a big fat wad of toilet paper; absolutely more than enough. I appreciated the hand’s effort to ensure that no inch of paper touched the filthy floor. When I exited the cubicle (after wiping my bottom, of course) I was embraced by a tall, skinny blonde thing with messy bed-hair and a large tattoo of a red bow on her décolletage. This tall blonde thing introduced herself as Zandra.
Zandra and I hit it off immediately. She launched a multitude of questions at me: Where do you come from? Who are you? Are you an artist? What are you passionate about? What do you do? In my slightly intoxicated state, I was absolutely convinced that Zandra was a mystical fairy. In fact, I still am. The questions Zandra asked me are ones I’ve been asking myself for years. The thing is, when someone other than yourself asks you these questions, you’re forced to give answers. And because I didn’t know Zandra, my answers to her were as true as the ones I’d give myself. We departed from the bathroom together, then went our separate ways in the club.
Throughout the remainder of the morning we continued to bump into each other on the dance floor. Zandra would grab my hand and greet me like her longest lost friend; “Emily! I’ve missed you. Dance with me. We’re artists.” In her own magical words, Zandra explained to me that she could “sense my creative nature” – and that’s the greatest compliment I’ve ever received. Thank you, dear Zandra, for encouraging my dream to create. (I am aware that I sound like a magical fairy myself. Apparently Zandra inspired me in more ways than one. Although she did admit at one point in the night to having taken “just a little bit of MDMA”. I assure you that I have not.) Now it appears I’ve gone off on a tangent. Back to reality.
What I’m getting at is this: let’s promise to never underestimate the small roles strangers play in our lives, or the role we play in theirs. You never know just how great an impact your words or smile or touch might have on someone’s life…until you meet them in Heaven that is.