Halloween...how I love that word! It feels so delicious on my tongue! Ummm...Halloween... I can taste the season -- apple cider, sweet, spiced pumpkin, popcorn balls, and licorice jelly beans. Oh, and the scent of bonfires and burning leaves -- ahhh, autumn acapriccio. I love the way the leaves fall from the trees all orange, gold, and red, the way they crush under my feet as I walk in crisp, clean air . Halloween...that mysterious time when the veil between worlds is at its most gossamer, when goblins, ghosts, and ghouls are greeted like long-lost friends. Halloween....it comes to me like a yearning.
I have no problem with ghosts. I have been surrounded by them my whole life. I think I once lived in a haunted house. I have worked with ghosts. Things have happened that I can't explain. I know what it is like to be haunted.
We all have ghost stories. I remember one night a few years ago... I was up late at night chatting with a friend. We lit a candle, sat on the floor, and shared a bottle of cheap wine. What could be more conducive to a good ghost story? He told me about the time he had been house sitting for a friend. The house was old and creaky and sat back on a deep lot in the woods. Pretty spooky stuff already, right? Well, my friend told me he had been drinking some really good Jack Daniels from the homeowner's private stash that night, though he swears that had nothing to do with what happened. A storm had moved in -- the wind was blowing, the rain was pelting, and my friend was delightfully doused in liquid libations. Suddenly, there came a sound outside the window, a meloncholy, mournful sound. He said he saw a figure floating in the air near the window, a solitary, soulfully woeful being, glowing in the gloom.
"A ghost," I whispered, entranced.
"Maybe," my friend said, "but it might have been Jesus."
"You saw Jesus?" I asked. "What was he doing floating outside the window during a storm?"
"Playing a guitar," my friend responded.
"Well, that's pretty cool," I had to admit. "What did Jesus look like?" I just had to know.
"You know," my friend told me, "he looked just like Ted Nugent."
Hmmm...like I haven't heard that before!
Okay, so maybe that isn't really a good example of a ghost story. Did I mention I used to work in museums? For several years I worked at a museum built around a pre-historic Native American ceremonial burial site in the historic downtown district where I live. There were certainly ghost stories associated with that location. I also worked at a little one-room schoolhouse that had been built in 1912 and was converted into a museum during the 1970's. I couldn't walk into that building without encountering a myriad of ghosts from the turn of the century. Thankfully, they were all happy ghosts. I think that is what history really is -- working with ghosts.
The most poignant ghosts I ever encountered, though, came to me out of the blue. I was stopped at a traffic light one day near the elementary school my children had attended. I looked at the building. I looked across the playground. I could see them all... so many little ghosts. I saw field days, open houses, spring and fall carnivals, cake walks, and May Poles. My precious babies were among all those little laughing ghosts. It was almost more than I could bear. I had to pull off the road, into a parking lot. I was crying and shaking. God, how I longed for the past! I am so proud of the people my children have grown up to be today and I love them dearly, but I wanted to feel the arms of my babies hugging my neck again. I wanted to hear their laughter in my ear. I wanted to kiss their rosy little cheeks! I wanted just one more day with my children, back when their worlds were sooo big and full of promises. I wanted YESTERDAY. I have been haunted by that vision ever since...
And I wouldn't have it any other way. I hope those ghosts never leave me...I hope I am eternally haunted...