Have you ever seen a ghost?
I am not sure if I have. I mean, there is that Civil War soldier who used to stand by my bed at night, but I have my doubts about him as I haven’t seen him in a while. I think something happened to him, but I’ll get to that later.
At times I have felt the presence of another, but I’m not quite sure what to make of it. See, I don’t believe in an afterlife in the classic sense that when we die, our consciousness or a soul carries on for all eternity, nor do I believe that we are reunited with loved ones or that we receive any reward or punishment for our behavior here on Earth. But when my mother died, I felt her presence at random times for a couple of years, and sometimes still do, although it has been over 21 years since she died. I also felt my nephew’s presence a few times after he died. The three of us were a lot alike–quick-witted with a somewhat snarky New York sense of humor that neither tolerates a lack of common sense nor deems anyone above a good chop-busting at times. Snowflakes, people who sit around thinking of things to be offended by, and other hypersensitive types need not apply.
Part of me wonders if the three of us were so alike because my nephew and I inherited a specific bit of genetic coding from her that affects personality—I used to joke that we both got her snark gene. Or perhaps we are recipients of epigenetic changes through her. My mother was not a sentimental woman, and when she was sad she was either reticent about it or she deflected with humor. He was the same way, and so am I. They say that trauma can leave a mark on how our genes are expressed, so maybe she or someone in her ancestry had some trauma and they dealt with it through humor and somehow that got passed down.
So what does that have to do with feeling their presence? Well, think about it. If we share coding or genetic expression that has been affected by epigenetic changes, it’s easy to feel or experience their attributes and characteristics because those attributes and characteristics are in me, too. Their presence is already in me.
As for ghosts of people I’ve never met before and have no way of knowing about, I don’t know about that. I don’t believe in souls, so I am skeptical that someone can hang around like an invisible person who can take deliberate actions. On the other hand, I do know, from the laws of physics, that energy is finite and permanent and therefore the energy in a human has to go somewhere when the human dies. What many people think of as ghosts seem to me to be energy that is “stuck” and hasn’t dispersed broadly or freely for whatever reason. That certainly would explain my “lead legs” whenever I go to places where extremely violent battles took place, like The Alamo or the battlefield at Gettysburg. I believe experts in paranormal terminology would call stuck energy a “residual haunting,” but don’t hold me to that because I’m still learning about the whole world of ghost-hunting and so on. (Thank Zak Bagans for that. I was channel-surfing one night, saw him on the screen, and put the remote down in a “Well, well, WELL, what have we HERE?” kind of way, started watching Ghost Adventures, and the rest is history. Sometimes it’s like that.)
All of that said, sometimes things happen. Back when I had a landline, the receiver of my phone would fall off the cradle out of nowhere. Doors open by themselves. A computer battery that had been struggling and dying a slow death suddenly regained its ability to charge one night after I felt some weird energy in my living room. I prop the bottom slats of my blinds a certain way to keep them from flopping open, and they’ll stay that way for days until one night, in the bedroom, they’ll just flop back on their own. I get annoyed at that because sometimes it startles my bird.
And most recently—just last week—in an event that ticked me off to no end, my gas range went on by itself. I am one of those people who always, ALWAYS checks the stove before I go to bed and before I leave home. Yes, some of it is probably a little anxiety, but when you have bird, leaving a gas range on for a long time is very dangerous, even if the burners are lit and flames are consuming the gas. I had checked, both by knobs and by feeling for heat over the burners, that the range was off, and in the time it took me to turn around, gather my keys and sunglasses off the kitchen island, and turn back around, one of the burners went on, by itself. I didn’t knock into it. The island is four feet from the stove. And ya know? I couldn’t even be frightened by it. I was just pissed. Don’t endanger Mama Hen’s baby! Or, as a friend put it, “It’s one thing to let you know they’re there. It’s another to try to cause harm.”
I don’t think it was the soldier. I had a particularly hellish dream one night in which he got into a fight with these weird demon creatures and they took him away. One of them, kind of an evil orange gargoyle, got up in my face and said, “He can’t protect you now.” Yeah, I was up all night after that until it occurred to me that I could call in the Sons of Anarchy. I am fairly adept at lucid dreaming, and therefore kicking unwanted visitors and guest stars out of my dreams on my own, but one night I was super tired, an ex-boyfriend showed up in a dream, and suddenly the Sons appeared and got rid of him, so now I call on them sometimes, and I finally fell asleep knowing they’d be there if this awful creature showed up in my dream again. Fortunately, it did not.
Anyway, after the range went on, I said, aloud, “All right! If you ARE here, I get it. KNOCK IT THE HELL OFF.”
Oddly enough, I felt an energy like a sulking teenager, not evil, but obedient and pissed back at me.
“Yeah, well, I’m stronger than you are, so deal with it,” I said. Really, my neighbors must think I’m nuts.
And dang it, there go my blinds. I kid you not, people.
But I have an idea. There is this jerk who pulls up on the street below my apartment and sits there for about 20 minutes with his stereo blaring. I don’t know if he’s selling drugs or what, but he does this every night around the same time, and his stereo is so loud it makes the floors shake. Maybe I shouldn’t invite trouble, but something tells me that if I do have a mischievous little friend here, maybe he or she just needs something to do, kind of like how kids get into trouble and do things to get attention when they’re bored. So I’m thinking that maybe my friend here can go downstairs and mess with the guy’s car stereo or something.
Hey, I’m moving in a couple of months. Might as well get something out of the haunting while I’m here.