Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time and to get to know our new neighbors. They are a very interesting young couple. They are intelligent, kind, thoughtful, respectful, and are overflowing with family values. In addition to these fine qualities, they both seem to have something else in common — for whatever reason — they are both tapped into the afterlife.
You could have knocked me down with a whisper when she (I shall refer to her as Jennifer) started talking one day about the first house she and her husband (I shall refer to him as John) lived in right after they were first married. A centennial home that had survived over the years with its outside bones intact. The inside of the house, however, had been modernized (what always seems to happen to these homes), but Jennifer and John decided they would try to bring the house back to its original time period as much as possible. It wasn’t long after the renovations began that Jennifer started to feel that she wasn’t alone in the house, (you know that feeling we’ve all gotten when we think we’re being watched). She said this feeling continued for weeks until one day when she was leaving the living room to go into the kitchen, she saw a man dressed in period, turn-of-the-century clothing walk across the hallway directly in front of her and disappear. She said it felt like she’d had the wind knocked right out of her. She was so incredibly startled at the sight of him that she just stood there for what seemed like a very long time, feeling as if her feet were stuck to the ground. So shocked by the sight that she just couldn’t move.
She had no doubt as to what she had seen. She had just seen a ghost. She knew that it hadn’t been her imagination. The apparition hadn’t been as the result of any type of drugs or alcohol. It hadn’t happened at night when the shadows could have been deceiving. She wasn’t ill. She wasn’t feverish and she certainly hadn’t been anticipating running into a ghost, so there was no anticipation of something happening. But she knew that she had seen someone who had once lived and was now gone, and she wasn’t quite sure how she felt about it. She said that the ghost hadn’t scared her and that she hadn’t associated any bad feelings or oppression with the sighting. She felt he was quite benign. But she wasn’t sure if she should tell her husband of the sighting. Would he think she was crazy?
Listening to Jennifer recall that first moment when she’d seen the ghost, I was blown away by how convincing she was. Her entire body seemed to be telling the story. Her pupils glistened, and her entire face was animated, and I absolutely had no doubt that she was telling the truth. I completely believed her, and with that realization, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck prickle up and a little shiver go up my spine. Oh, my God, I thought. Ghosts were real.
She then told me that she thought about it all day while her husband was at work, and that she knew she couldn’t keep it to herself. So that evening when he came home; she told him. Instead of thinking that she was crazy, he told her that he’d also had the same feeling that they were being watched and he told her that he’d had several occurrences in his life that could not be explained. He told her that he had no doubt whatsoever of the existence of an afterlife and now she said that she could agree. Ghosts were alive and well and living with them in their house. Since the ghost seemed to be quite benevolent, they decided to happily accept their cohabitation and they proceeded with their renovations.
They both continued to see the male ghost off and on — just glimpses of him as he walked from one room to the next. They also heard footsteps quite often, and the sounds of doors shutting, etc., but they never once felt any sense of danger or evil. And then one day, Jennifer caught sight of a woman in period clothing standing in the living room. The woman was in front of her long enough for Jennifer to make a mental image of her face before she disappeared. Jennifer sat down immediately and drew a sketch of that face. When she told her husband of the apparition, he decided they needed to do some research on the house to see what information they could find. Luckily at the library, they were able to find out about both the house and the original owners. They were thrilled to learn that not only was the building of the house documented, but the original owners of the house were documented as well. Included in the information was also a picture of the wife. It was the same face that Jennifer had drawn.
So, Jennifer and John began to “talk” to their cohabitants from that point on, using their names, etc., in their conversations. Whenever they would have that feeling that they were being watched, they would address the couple — saying good morning, or good afternoon, etc., to let them know they were aware of them. And then one afternoon while Jennifer and John were working on the house, they were wistfully speculating if their ghost inhabitants approved of their renovation efforts. It was at that point where they both heard a very loud and strong male voice say, “Yes.”
As Jennifer was recounting this to me, I again felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I was enthralled. This ghost was communicating with them. It was fantastic. And it was fantastic because I completely and totally believed what she was saying. Jennifer and John speculated that the reason the ghost couple was back in the house was because they approved of Jennifer and John tearing out the tacky modernization that had occurred throughout the years and wanted Jennifer and John to know that they approved of their efforts.
Jennifer and John continued to get glimpses of the ghost couple from time-to-time and the footsteps and the doors continued to open and close. The occurrences were so common now that they thought they would share what was happening with one of their closest friends one night when they were all playing cards at their kitchen table. Jennifer and John began to tell their friend of what had been occurring in the house since the renovations began, but their friend completely refused to accept what they were telling him was true. They were trying to pull one over on him, he said. He especially called “bullshit” when they told him how the male ghost had talked to them by answering, “Yes” about their renovation approval. So, Jennifer decided to ask the male ghost (she called him by his name) if it was true that he and his wife approved of the changes they were making to “their” house. And once again, a strong, male voice answered, “Yes.”
Jennifer said at that point, their friend jumped out of his chair and practically threw himself onto John’s lap — scared out of his wits — and trying to hang on to John like they were both in a cartoon. It was at that moment that their friend turned from being a non-believer into an instant believer. Ghosts existed on this plane of ours. They were here and they were real, and any doubt that they didn’t exist had been forever erased; forever erased for a few of us, anyway.
Jennifer and John continued to live in their little house, making changes to take it back to where it had started. Once all the renovations had been completed, they said they didn’t hear from their ghost couple again. Jennifer and John eventually moved from the little house, but they think of their ghost companions often and what it all meant. Why had that happened to them? Was there a reason they were given a glimpse of the afterlife?
Why do only some people have things like that happen? History tells us that Houdini spent years trying to find a true Medium to help him contact his dead mother’s spirit. He was never successful. And despite Houdini telling his wife that he would come back and talk to her (God willing), all her attempts to contact him in the afterlife were failures. Why were Jennifer and John able to experience this, but so many people cannot?
Since I completely believed Jennifer’s ghostly account, that these occurrences had happened, it made me rethink all of my own personal experiences. Too many times I had passed off these occurrences as my imagination or as a bit of “underdone potato,” as Ebeneezer Scrooge had done. I believed Jennifer’s reality, so ghosts were now a reality for me as well. Since ghosts are all around us and have the capacity to interact with us, how can more of us find ways to communicate with them? And honestly, do we really want to? I do accept their existence as truth, but it would certainly be easier if I did not. And I’m not sure if this knowledge is comforting or terrifying. In so many ways, we are not alone, and it raises so many more questions about our existence than we can ever hope to answer.