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Monday, October 31, 2011

Ghosts of my Past

Halloween might be the staple fall holiday in the US and Canada, but in MesoAmerica, it's the Day of the Dead. This is the day when the living can commune with the dead. My father used to scare the heck out of us when we'd visit my grandmother's grave. I just knew one of these days we'd bring back some hitchhiking ghost.

Ghosts startle me, (well, what doesn't) but if I can spend a few seconds getting used to their presence, that fear usually morphs into curiosity. Invariably though, if a ghost crosses my path, it's more likely he's passing through or looking for something. He's not interested in my questions.

But there was one time I was left at a disadvantage. We had traveled to Chicago to attend my father-in-law's funeral. As soon as we arrived we were shuttled to the wake. I kept complaining to Greg that I wasn't feeling well. Greg dismissed it as nerves. (Why do husbands always dismiss our ailments as nerves?)

Finally, I told him I had to go home (in this case, my parent's home). I felt terrible about it because I wanted to be a comfort to him in his time of need, but I plain just felt bad. He dropped me off with my kid sister, then rushed back to the wake.

My sister was very young at the time, maybe 12 or 13, and the poor kid kept calling Greg at the funeral parlor, insisting I was getting worse. (In retrospect, I might've died had she not been so unrelenting.) After the third call, Greg had had enough and came home to see for himself.

One look told him I needed to go to the hospital. All I remember was a terrible backache and me pleading with him not to take me to the hospital. He didn't tell me that I was white as a sheet and delirious. They barely got me into surgery when my appendix burst.

Poor Greg had lost an uncle a week earlier, his father less than two days ago, and now the doctors were telling him his wife's life was in danger. Greg was having a very bad week.

Fast forward a few weeks and they finally released me from the hospital, but ordered me not to fly home. I would have to stay with my parents a few weeks longer. 

The first night home was a doozy. I was restless and couldn't sleep. I couldn't shake the feeling that something was in my room. It made me especially anxious because I could barely move due to the huge incision on my stomach. I finally managed to sit up when I saw Greg's father manifest, then sit at the edge of my bed. 

I stared at him in disbelief. He looked good. Healthy. His mouth was moving, but I couldn't hear him speak. Somehow--and don't ask me how--I knew he was looking for Greg. As soon as I told him that Greg had returned to Texas, he disappeared, hopefully to find his son and say a proper goodbye.

I wish more than anything he could have stayed a little longer, but I had the feeling he was in a hurry. 

It's pure speculation on my part, and something I alluded to in my latest book, but I have to wonder if there's some transitory state of souls, right before a metamorphosis.

What do you think happens when you die? Are there stages of afterlife like there is in life? I am fascinated by different views. I hope you'll share yours.


Angelina Rain said...

Great posts. I've never seen any ghosts (luckily) but I've had friends and family tell me they saw some at the house where I lived between ages 11 - 17.

The most I get is dead people visiting me in my dreams. Before I got married, there were a few times when I planned to dump him. Each time, I would have a dream that I was alone in a dark room and a voice was telling me not to. One time, I actually saw the face of the voice and it was my father in law. Then, a few months ago when I finally decided to leave him, before I even told him I'm leaving, I went to the cemetary and told my father in law that if he wants us to work out, he better be telling his son that instead of me because I don't care anymore. Weeks after I did that, my husband ended up in the hospital. Then he had a moment of realization and he learned that he should value me and respect me. According to him, his father had something to do with the realization. Funny that he listened to me. I really though I was acting crazy going to the cemetary but it worked.

Maria Zannini said...

Angelina: Dreams are when we are at our most unguarded and relaxed, so it makes sense that we might be more accessible to spirits. It's interesting too that you had conversations at the cemetery. I might have to try that someday.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Wow, what a scary but cool post. Amazing.
And so glad your sister was persistent!

After watching Ghost Adventures I do think there might be something to spirits being on earth.

Anonymous said...

Very cool post for Halloween! Glad you're sister bugged Greg :)

My sister has had our grandmother, a friend, and some random person (I didn't know and can't remember now if she knew) visit her in dreams.

Our grandmother did the same thing your father-in-law did with the sitting on the end of the bed but as it was years after she passed she didn't seem to be in a hurry to my sister. Grandma's visit corresponded to us seeing Terms of Endearment, during which both my sister and I couldn't help but think of Grandma who also died of cancer. The same night I tossed and turned, felt cold then hot, but never saw or sensed anyone. I wish I had, I could have used Grandma's comforting smile.

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: I'm going to have to look up Ghost Adventures. I've never heard of it, but then I don't have cable so I miss a lot.

Raelyn: I often wonder if spirits come back occasionally to check on us--or if they check on us because we're thinking of them.

L.G.Smith said...

There may be a transitory state for dead souls, I have no idea, but I don't want to meet any of them. No, no, no. Yep, I'm afraid.

julie fedderson said...

I do believe in spirits, although I've never had a true encounter. I think subtle influences are all around us and you must try to be cognizant of them or else they go unnoticed. I think that's why people who meditate or exercise the subconscious part of their minds seem to be more grounded. Glad your sis was so persistent!

Southpaw said...

Good post. It could open a whole forum of ideas. Me, I've never seen one, but I don't discount them either.

Maria Zannini said...

LG: LOL. I don't want to meet them either, but I've never been given the choice.

Julie: A friend of my husband's said it best. "Sometimes the phone is ringing, but some of us never hear it."

Southpaw: I don't like to discount things without irrefutable proof.

Kaye Manro said...

Very interesting blog post and comments here. I've had some experiences too, but I always try to qualify or explain them after the fact. This post gives us something to really think about, however.

Darke Conteur said...

Wow, such a timely post.

I think when we die, we cross over into a world just like this, but with all our friends and family that have past, waiting for us. Pets too. We can travel there, when we're in a certain stage of unconsciousness. Astral projection. It's those dreams we have that feel so real. It's also the time when spirits can communicate with us too. I've had lunch with my grandmother, yelled at Husbands ex-wife (oh yeah, I went there) and played with the dogs.

I've often said that I believe there is a difference between a ghost and a spirit, one being Earth-bound, the other more of a visitor in our lives. October 31 is said to be one of two dates when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest, and the spirits of family come and join us. I have a ritual I do and I'm pretty sure I have a full house.

Maria Zannini said...

Kaye: My hubby is the same way. He'll try to find a plausible explanation first. But even he feels there's more out there than can be explained away.

Darke: The ex-wife? Oh, nooo. I think that's one person I'd never want to meet. But if I do, Greg has some explaining to do cuz he said I was the only one. LOL.

Rula Sinara said...

Fascinating post. I've seen and experienced too many strange happenings that could only be attributed to ghosts/spirits. Most of my stories are too long to type here, but one case involved the death of my grandmother. I remember my mom saying that she woke up very suddenly during the night and felt strange. She somehow knew in that moment that her mom passed away. She wasn't particularly ill, so it wasn't something my mom was expecting. Anyway, about 10 minutes after she woke up, she got a call from family overseas...her mom had passed away. It was as if her spirit had already come to let my mom know.

Cate Masters said...

I've always believed in an afterlife. How long they hang around after passing, I'm not sure - ones with unfinished business might stick around longer. I live very close to Gettysburg, and think the souls who died there left an imprint because of the extreme trauma. Hopefully they're not still there and unhappy.
My sisters have seen my mom and dad in their dreams. Wish I could. It would be nice to visit.

Dru said...

Because I experienced two ghost-like occurrences, I do believe there is something between our state here and when we leave.

LD Masterson said...

I talk to my mom all the time. I like to believe she can hear me. I've never seen her but sometimes I swear I can feel her hand on my face.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

great story. As for what happens, honetly, i have no clue. I'd like to hope we go on and try again or whatever, but the science half of me says this is probably it.
I try not to listen to that side, though, since it can be depressing.

Dee said...

I don't believe in ghosts, for the most part. Although I love reading paranormal fiction, my very practical, scientific personality wants to see before I believe, and I've never seen one, or known anybody who's seen one. Not counting you, of course.

On the other hand, my sister-in-law just passed away. We went to see her in the hospital and, even though she was in a coma, I had no problem talking to her, no problem believing she might be able to hear me, even though she appeared to be unconscious.

One thing I do have no trouble believing, and Shakespeare said it best: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Ghosts? Transitory state of souls, as you put it?

Why not?

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I like to think we become one with everything humans are made of, all the star-stuff in the universe that we evolved out of, the same molecules traveling around since the big bang.

Maria Zannini said...

Rula: I've had so many people tell me a similar story. It happened in my family once when one uncle woke up and told his wife his brother had died. She tried to convince him his brother was fine and then they got the phone call.

Cate: I've always been curious about areas where a great many and traumatic deaths occurred. I've experienced it only once aboard an aircraft carrier.

Dru: The first time something like that happens, you never forget. :)

Linda: I think the touch of a loved one would be very comforting.

Sarah: LOL. This probably explains why I would be a terrible atheist. It's just too depressing.

Dee: My husband is the same way, but after living with me all these years I think I've finally turned him around. :)

Barbara: I'd like to think so too. It reminds me we are more alike than different.

Isis Rushdan said...

I'm a big believer in the afterlife. I don't think it all ends once we die and I believe there are "stages". Death still frightends me, but it is comforting for me to think that my late grandmother and aunt are watching from a different place that is hopefully better.

Live Out Loud said...

Wow. Great post! It's nice to have that kind of closure. I've had experiences as have many family members on both sides of my family. My personal experiences have more to do with sensing something specific is going to happen and then it does.

Maria Zannini said...

Isis: The couple of times I came near death, it's surprising how easily you accept it when you realize there's no other choice.

Live Out Loud: Exactly. It was closure. --Oh, and I owe you an email. Give me to the end of the week.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Never saw a ghost, but I believe. My grandmother's house was "haunted" and I was always afraid to wander around it at night. But then, I was a kid and everything scared me!

However, I sometimes have gotten a sense of not being alone, or I could swear I heard my name called (but no one is home but me). Who knows - maybe someone was visiting. Maybe I'm just not sensitive enough to see them.

Angela Brown said...

This world is too filled with the inexplicable to think there isn't some place of transition after death and before the "whatever is beyond".

I sometimes wish I could see life in plain black and white and that when you die you're dead and that's all there is to it. Might make things simpler, or make things even more confusing as every exception-to-rule makes it a point to disprove the whole black-and-white view.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: Haunted spaces upset me, mostly because I like to be in control and they add a certain element of uncertainty.

Angela: When I was younger, I used to think I could force things to be black and white. Now I know better. :)

broken biro said...

The library where I work is supposed to be haunted - a caretaker killed himself there and a dog brought in once to check the place out wouldn't go down the upstairs corridor where that happened - the same corrridor where doors slam shut sometimes when there's no wind or anything. But I haven't experienced anything... yet!

Mike Keyton said...

Remove any of our five senses and you limit a person. In other respects our senses imprison us into believing that that is all there is. Sometimes 'vision's can be seen as a brain malfunction and the 'sufferer' heavily dosed. On other occasions the veil twitches and we see outside our prison

Maria Zannini said...

Broken Biro: Makes me wonder why the caretaker killed himself. Eeks!

Mike: Ref: ...our senses imprison us into believing that that is all there is.

How true. Sometimes when I want to describe something, I close my eyes and listen.

Clarissa Draper said...

Personally, I believe that people who die are dead. I don't think people who loved me during my lifetime would come back from the dead to haunt me later. Today is Day of the Dead in Mexico and people here go to the graves to leave food for their dead loved ones, but I don't think the dead eat. And if they do, why are you starving them the other 364 days of the year? Great views though.