Several of Russ’ friends who have previewed this work asked me what had inspired me to write this story.

I can’t tell you what inspires me to write. I write. That’s what I do.
But I can tell you what inspired me to write this story.

Part of the inspiration came from the timing. I had just visited Russ’ grave for the first time. And the one year anniversary of this death was approaching.

Part of the inspiration came form an outside source. A mutual friend of ours recommended that I watch the movie Into The Wild, directed by Sean Penn, and based on the novel of the same name by Jon Krakauer.

It is a story of a remarkable young man. I don’t want to give anything away, so I won’t tell you the story.

But I realized, after I had watched the movie and read the book, that the stories of this young man’s life would have been lost had someone not taken the time and energy to research that life and write those stories down.
And that would have been a tragic loss.

Mainly, though, I was inspired to write this by Russ himself.
Some people are born to write.
Others are born to have stories written about them.
Russ was one of those.
And I didn’t want the world to lose those stories.

“There are five people you meet in heaven,” the Blue Man suddenly said. “Each of us was in your life for a reason. You may not have known the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth.”

Eddie looked confused.

“People think of heaven as a paradise garden, a place where they can float on clouds and laze on 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. To have it explained. It is the peace you have been searching for.”

---Mitch Albom

the five people you meet in heaven