First, let me say that, to me, there's a difference between spirits and ghosts. Casper is a ghost - sheet and all. A spirit... well, that's something else. The Navajos don't use the word spirit, or soul, they use the term wind breath. I like that. It signifies the essence of what we are, the part that goes on. I believe that there's an after-life, and millions of books detailing NDE's support that.
Sometimes if we're lucky we see evidence of things we can't explain through our mortal senses. After our dog passed away, David and I would hear the doggie door - at the same time. We'd look at each other, and rush out to see if we were hosting a stray cat. We never found evidence of any intruder, but the sounds continued for a long time. Occasionally we still see a shadow go by the hall. Nothing to be scared about - it's just there, and then gone.
To be honest, I find things like that comforting. Had I been the only one to experience it, or if David and I had experienced these things at different intervals, I would have said it was our minds giving us comfort through memories. But at the same time? Uh-uh.
Of course, David and I have had separate experiences too. A few days after my dad passed on. I was sitting with David in the kitchen, and something called my attention to the end of the hall. I leaned over (David sits in front of me and was blocking my view) and saw my dad clear as day walking down the hall and coming toward me. Incredibly, my first thought was "Oh, it's just Papi." Then without skipping a beat, I continued my conversation with David.
Then it hit me. Huh? I looked again, but he was gone. Fear never entered into the equation, but a sense of wonder did.
David had his own experience. Years back, he went to a teacher's retreat at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos. Mabel was quite a character in her day. She was a wealthy patron of the arts and had a particular affection for authors. She hosted notables like DH Lawrence and Willa Cather. She also tried her hand at writing, publishing a memoir about DH Lawrence's visit titled, Lorenzo in Taos.
David, of course was terribly excited about his visit to the famous hacienda, and since I couldn't go, I was dying of envy....
I'm going to step aside now and let him tell you about that experience himself!
It was October 31st, a Friday that year, and we arrived at the house around dinner time. The bedroom assignments had already been made - and it turned out, I got Mabel's bedroom - and her old bed. In the corner of the room was a kiva fireplace, and, in Taos that time of year, it was already very cold at night. There were stories at dinner time, told by the couple who ran the facility. Mabel, they said, roamed the house at night, sometimes peeking in on the guests and coming up to stand beside their beds. It was a great Halloween story, we thought.
I was the one who'd be sleeping in Mabel's bed, so I got some teasing, of course. After dinner, we had some workshop events and entertainment, then several of us went into one of the sitting rooms, sat around the fire, and talked for a few hours.
When I went to bed, there was already a fire roaring in the kiva fireplace. The bed was cool beneath the covers, so I slid over to the side closer to the fire. Surprisingly, it was downright cold. I thought my own body would warm it up, so I stayed in place, but it didn't work. Eventually I slid back over to the other pillow. It was a lot warmer, though farther from the fire. So I stayed on that side, trying to puzzle out why one side of the bed just wouldn't warm up. Eventually I went to sleep.
The next morning at breakfast, I was asked if I'd seen Mabel's ghost during the night. When I told the other teachers about the cold side of the bed that would never warm up, I got a lot of teasing. Someone suggested that Mabel didn't want me to sleep on her side.
Mabel Luhan's House - 2011 Photo by Khlnmusa
A few years after that, Aimée and I were watching a PBS program on Mabel Dodge Luhan. They had old home movies that showed her, her guests, and her Taos home. The `thirties era black and white video was kind of grainy. Then everything changed. Mabel crossed the patio, and looked straight into the camera. In that split second the image became completely clear, zooming in on a smiling Mabel, waving at the camera.
"Whoa'," I think I said, then looked over at Aimée. She'd been creeped out too, it was like Mabel was looking at us personally, across time. I've never forgotten that moment.
These days we have a flashlight in the bedroom that keep coming on at two or three in the morning. No one's near it, and in fact, turning it off requires one of us to get up, going to the dresser, and shutting it off. It's annoying, but David's determined to figure out if it's a change of pressure, cold, or what. It's not a regular flashlight. It's a cheap little thing with a big bulb, and is only supposed to come on if you press the center.
Personally, if a spirit is trying to communicate, I prefer it pick ten in the morning than two at night, but the flashlight remains in the bedroom while my former science teacher husband tries to figure it out.