|This is the only image of ghosts I could find that weren't scary.|
Isn't having a friend die something that happens in the old folks' home when you're almost 90? "Did you hear Cecil didn't make it through the night?" "I bet Mavis is next."
But here I am on the upper end of my mid-30s and I recently lost another friend the same week my best friend lost her mom.
Another friend, another parent, another memorial, another celebration of life, another round of pain in the knowledge that I'll never see them again.
Another feeling that I'm being watched.
I believe in ghosts. I believe when people pass away young and unexpectedly, they watch out for their friends and family.
I've never actually seen a ghost, despite the number of guys I see wearing beanies who resemble Josh (died 2009) or the sheer volume of lookalikes my friend Mike (died 2005) has in existence all over the U.S. (I swear I saw him on a boat in Hilton Head.)
I'm not sure I've ever felt a ghost's presence except for the time I was up late at night with L.E. when she was just a few weeks old. I was sobbing, once again feeling like I wasn't cut out for this mommyhood shit and wondering when her real parents were coming to pick her up. It was then that I smelled my grandma (died 2001). And I immediately felt better. I don't know if her spirit was really there or not. It could have been the sleep deprivation and depression was making me crazy. But for that instant, the moment I smelled the scent of my grandma's hands, I felt like I could handle this. Like I wasn't alone.
I always joked that Bill (died 1997) was my guardian angel of driving. I had a near-miss once where the car should have hit me but didn't. I still to this day have no idea how I didn't get hit. I'm convinced he was looking out for me.
I've had dreams about Pap but I haven't sensed him yet. There was a weird incident that happened the day after he died, though. T, L.E. and I were in San Francisco. L.E. was 9 months old. We met my best friend and her boyfriend at a bar down the street from the bar where we watched the Steeler game at 10 am with a bunch of drunken Irish-folk who genuinely loved having a baby in the bar, but I digress.
This meth-head with Tourette's (ahhhh...San Francisco!) walked in and was shouting at the bartender and pretty much everyone else. He looked over at me holding L.E. and asked when her birthday was. I pretended not to hear. But then he started screaming about his sister who was crazy and hoped my baby's birthday wasn't the same day as hers: October 13th. I froze. I said, "What did you say?" T and my friends were telling me to ignore him but I couldn't because what are the odds (I guess 365-to-1?) that he would say the day of my grandfather's birthday. My grandfather who had just died. Dun dun dun.
These instances sound like the ravings of an insane person.
But to me, the fact that I have experienced these things is comforting. Like most self-absorbed people, I'm terrified of death. So maybe the best way to get over that fear is to realize that you won't be alone when your time comes. Those you have known who have passed will be waiting for you, even if you barely remember what they looked like.
One night a few weeks after Josh died, I asked T if we die when we're old, how do we look in the afterlife? I hope that I look 30 and not 85. He said that we don't look like people, we appear as balls of light. Let me interrupt myself and share that I have never heard my husband ever speak of the afterlife, life, religion, spiritualism or anything like that. But there we was saying this with such conviction. I asked him how will we know who are loved ones are? He said, "Oh, you'll know." It was such a surreal moment. I'm pretty sure I fell in love with him all over again.
That night I dreamt of warm balls of light that sniffed each other like dogs. I knew who they all were. And it made me feel really good.
So to Walter and to my Reno-Mom (died May 18): if you see a cluster of people (or balls of light) who are gathered around watching a life that's about as exciting as that one lame episode of Golden Girls (you know, the one about Dorothy; those ones always sucked!), introduce yourselves and say hello. And welcome to the group who watches out for me.