Ghosts Are People Too
By Susan Keats, Contributor & Seize-the-Day Propagandist
OK, I have a confession. I’m putting myself out on a ledge here and some of you will think I’m crazy, but I’m not. I know I’m not because over a lifetime of inquiry on the topic, I know many of you have your own stories to tell and I know you’re not all crazy either. So here it goes…in time for Halloween…deep breath…
I hear dead people.
Not all the time mind you, and I can’t make it happen. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had an experience that I would consider to be other-worldly, but each time was powerful, meaningful and…and freaky.
One of my favorite things to do is to ask people for their own stories. To me, this topic is far more interesting than anything to do with that ol' popular standby SEX, and far less discussed in the popular media, except of course at Halloween. There’s so much hoopla going around about how menopause is finally coming out of the closet, but I think it’s time for people to remove this particular skeleton and stop thinking that others will believe you are nuts. Just about everyone has a favorite ghostly “it happened to me” story.
Here’s one of mine just to get us warmed up:
I was backpacking around Europe with a friend. She and I had a falling out of some sort and I found myself planning the next leg of my journey all alone. I sat on my bed in a youth hostel with my travel book in hand, and nervously looked for train stations and stops to get me through France and into Spain within the week. All by myself. Alone. I was scared.
So as I sat there on my bed, biting my nails and worrying about myself and what time I needed to get up in the morning, I heard a voice so clear it was like someone was sitting next to me on the bed.
“Whatever you do, you’ll be ok.”
It was my great grandmother’s voice. We call her Little Grandma. There was no mistaking her sweet tone and Russian accent. She also was no longer alive. I dropped my book and my heart leapt into my throat, pounding. WHAT????
The sound of her voice resonated in my head. “WHAT THE…..say it again!” I begged. “Say it again!” but she didn’t. That was it. The one crystal clear moment.
The rest of my trip was charmed. I felt watched over and taken care of. A variety of disasters were somehow averted. Pickpockets who were surrounding me in Barcelona, trying to remove my backpack, were scared off by a stranger who stepped in to help. A young German couple saved me from a man who started stalking me at the youth hostel where we were staying. I was finally ushered into the arms of a great group of Australians who took me in as one of their own and we continued our journey around the world together. I was safe. I was protected. In spite of all the things that happened or could have happened, I was indeed ok. I still believe that my great grandmother keeps an eye out for me, though I have never heard her voice again. I wish I would. I’d really like to hear it.
That doesn’t sound so crazy, does it? No. I’ll bet you have a similar tale to tell. I’m hoping you do, I want to hear it.
Well, now that we’re all warmed up, here is another:
In 2009 I went to a conference in San Diego with a friend who was my boss at the time. She had booked us into a beautifully renovated old hotel that had previously been a transient hotel.
Our room was a suite. She had the bedroom at one end of the suite and I had a sofa bed in the sitting area at the other end.
We dropped our stuff and went out to explore San Diego. We had a great dinner and headed back to the room to sleep. We had an early morning ahead of us.
At some point in the middle of the night, while I slept on my side, I was awakened because someone sat on my bed. The next thing I knew, that someone had snuggled up behind me and had put her face on top of mine.
I panicked. I was afraid to move. All I could think was that my boss had come in to my room and was doing this…why was she doing this? This was so entirely out of character for a woman who does not even like to be hugged. This made no sense. This was CRAZY!
My head was spinning and I decided that all I could do was be funny, so without missing a beat I said “Is this my wakeup call?”
The woman laughed. It was definitely a woman. “Go back to sleep” she said and I didn’t feel her any more. I was afraid to move. My heart was pounding. I lay awake for a long long time wondering why my boss had done that and how would I ask her about it in the morning?
Finally I fell back to sleep and in the morning I spoke up: “um….er…did you…uh, sit on my bed in the middle of the night?” “What? NO!” She said emphatically. “Why would I do something like that?”
And the thing was, I knew she would never do something like that. I asked the fellow at the front desk if the hotel was known to have any ghosts?
“You bet it does!” He agreed with a wink, but he never filled me in on any details.
My husband, a doctor of all things brainy has suggested to me that this was a hypnogogic hallucination. I suppose it could have been. All I can say though is that I never had anything similar happen to me before and I’ve never had anything like it happen since.
Now that it’s Halloween, I can think of no better opportunity for all of you NOT crazy people to join me here on this ledge and come clean. Tell me the story that you have kept to yourself all these years. No namby pamby boyscout RAP RAP Wrapping paper tales. OK? I want real stories. TRUE stories. Let’s hear 'em. Little Grandma and I will know if you’re telling the truth.
Susan Keats ~ In 2010 Susan received life-changing news after a routine mammogram. She had breast cancer. After plenty of tears, anxiety and soul searching, she finished treatments and is now entering a year of renewal, growth, and recovery. Susan hopes that those who are just stepping into the experience of illnesses or crises will find the same comfort and inspiration that she felt when others shared their experiences and wisdom with her. She is looking forward to rediscovering parts of herself that she had allowed to fall away. This is going to be a great year!