The Five People You Meet in Heaven: Marguerite

Why does Marguerite want to be in a place where there are only weddings? How does this relate to her own life and to her relationship and life with Eddie?

Discuss why Eddie is angry at his wife for dying so young.

What does Marguerite mean when she says, “Lost love is still love. It takes a different form. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around on the dance floor. But when these senses waken, another heightens. . . . Life has an end. Love doesn’t.” Discuss whether or not you agree with her.

For those of you concerned about source attribution, I’m basing some of my discussion questions on those provided by¬†LitLovers, who got their questions from the publisher of TFPYMIH. I sometimes change how they phrase the questions and leave some out, but I’m using them to guide the general direction of the discussion.
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7 thoughts on “The Five People You Meet in Heaven: Marguerite

  1. Marguerite thinks that weddings are a time of supreme happiness, and she wants to experience that happiness. In heaven she and Eddie are able to have the wedding that Eddie would have given her if he had been able to.

    Eddie wanted to grow old together with Marguerite and didn’t have that opportunity. Like many who grieve, he felt abandoned by Marguerite when she died.

    I can agree with Marguerite that love doesn’t end when life ends. It is absolutely possible to continue loving a person once they’ve died. Some people use their grief to change things about themselves, to improve themselves, so that the person they’ve lost lives on through them. Some become activiists for a cause and fight to ensure that others don’t die the way their loved one died. If the person died very young, people often imagine what the person would look like at 15, at 20, etc. I had a cousin who died in a heart transplant when she was two. She would have been a college student today, so I occasionally thought of her when I was teaching high school – what kind of student would she have been, what would she have wanted to major in for college, etc. etc.

    Also, love tends to turn our memories of our loved ones into golden memories: we only remember the positive things, until the loved one becomes some sort of superhero in our minds. We think, “Oh, if so-and-so were only here, s/he’d know exactly what to do.” Maybe that person would have known how to respond, or would have been the gracious host or the best negotiator, but s/he likely also woke up grumpy in the morning or left the toilet seat up or kicked the dog when s/he was angry. All those “negative” memories of a person fade after that person dies, and we are left with the positive memories – I wonder if this is fueled by love that “believes all things.”

    • I’m sorry to hear about your cousin! I don’t think I’ve heard of her before.

      I like your analysis of how people respond to grief.

      The hard thing about “love believes all things” is thinking the best of others while they’re still alive! As you pointed out, after a person passes away, our bad memories of them tend to fade away over time, but sometimes it’s really hard to let go and believe the best while the person is still alive.

  2. Marguerite and Eddie had a very simple wedding (nothing wrong with that), but I think the telling statement is that “everything around them seemed buttoned up tight” (155). Eddie loved Marguerite intensely, but he never seems to loosen up and love her with abandon. She enjoys the vitality and swirling excitement of these weddings in heaven, because they reflect what she missed out on.

    I think Eddie is angry because he grieves over his loss and feels abandoned by Marguerite. His expectations for a long life together came crashing down with her cancer.

    Eddie continues to love Marguerite after her death, and I agree that love continues on after the loved one dies. Because of that love, some people, like Eddie, aren’t able to love another person again. He never forgets her and never loves again.

    • On p. 148, Eddie’s reactions to weddings are embarrassment and avoidance. But in Marguerite’s heaven, people are exuberant and joyful and finally he is able to reach out to her and lead her in a dance.

      He is very, very aware of his lame leg and feels everyone is looking at it. This keeps him “buttoned up.” He feels unbelievable love and passion for her, but often reacted with silence, especially after the accident. Now they talk and talk and talk.

      I love that she was handing out treats at the wedding when he first sees her in heaven and is saying “for the bitter and the sweet.” This is marriage, and this is life. “For better or for worse.” I like that her quotation has her saying the bitter first, then the sweet instead of the other way round. In Christ, I trust that those things which seem most bitter and painful will be working out for us a greater glory, even as Christ had to drink the bitter cup of suffering and death before His resurrection.

      Actually, I like to think that this quote is one way to find the peace that we was discussed on a previous post: to know that life has both bitter and sweet and learn to accept it and keep loving.

      Love does continue after death, but to me it’s a poor substitute for the living, breathing love. Memories are sweet, but I want reality. I want to reunite with my loved ones in heaven, not just hold to their memories.

  3. I think Eddie is just plain angry. He’s angry at life. He’s angry at his father, at their captors in the war, at himself for going inside the building and ruining his leg (later he explodes in rage at the Captain but chooses to forgive), that his brother isn’t trapped the way he is, at himself for gambling away their adoption money, and at her for dying. It’s not said directly but I also think he’s angry at God. After his fellow POW died, Eddie STOPS PRAYING. (Also he’d prayed for his mom to come intervene when his dad was beating them, but his prayers weren’t answered because when his mom came she couldn’t help.) He may have had NOTHING and been NOTHING (in his eyes), but at least he had her; he’d lost her after the accident, but then got her back and then had to lose her to a tumor. It was one more way he was trapped and angry.

    But after learning about his unknowingly causing the Blue Man’s death (and not being held accountable; IOW, being forgiven) and then himself forgiving the Captain and his father, he is learning that forgiveness can release us from anger. On p. 171, it says, “He wondered if he’d ever be forgiven.” He sees his own guilt and wrong too, but the answer isn’t just to hate himself for his choices or actions but to be forgiven. This forgiveness becomes very huge with person number five.

    • I like the connections you drew between anger and forgiveness and healing. This is an idea that I’ve been pondering for a couple of years now, and I am almost – not quite, but almost – ready to write a blog post on the topic.

      I do agree that forgiveness helps the forgiver, in that s/he is released from the prison of anger and can then move on. I don’t think that means that the person forgiven gets off without consequences or that trust is necessarily re-established, but forgiveness is definitely an important part of healing.

  4. I meant to come back to this topic. There is not much to be added to this topic as you all have said it very well. I think we have to come to a place of forgiveness, but each one in their own good time, and it does take time. Also, as we get older, there are places where we need self forgiveness. We can often love in the universal sense, but sometimes forget to love ourself.

    I still feel very judgemental toward Eddie’s mother in our story. While she provided joy for parties and dancing, she seemed to have no agency to act on her own to protect her children. Given the time of our story, she perhaps did not have the financial means to take them away. I can get harsh in being judgemental. I can become even more harsh with my own shortcomings.

    I still work on forgiveness. I meditate and practice saying names and acts where I want to offer forgiveness or have it offerred. I find this often works better than having endless conversational struggles. I measure the extent of the forgiveness by any degree of bitterness or irritation that comes to my mind or heart.

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