Writing a book about my life was hard. Talking about it for the last year has been even harder. It’s one thing to mentally grind away on my epically stupid life choices with my laptop as my only witness. It’s quite another to talk about it with strangers. Humans don’t seem to have a “Select All → Delete” function, or if they do, I haven’t found it yet. As the weeks have ticked by, I’ve become a little more resilient than I was before I intentionally started soliciting other people’s opinions. I’m getting better at separating the constructive criticism from the personally motivated vitriol. It’s also profoundly moving when someone actually groks my artistic intentions—even more so when they’re able to laugh at the absurdity and cringe at the horror all at the same time.
As with most memoirs, there are lots of questions. Most of the questions I get are about Darren. (If you haven’t read Terrible Omens yet, Darren is my ex-husband, and the story is about our disastrous marriage.) The next question that comes up is usually something like, “What about the ghosts?” or “Are those ghost stories real?” Some people just skip over the ghost thing entirely. I’m not really sure if they didn’t like that part, if they didn’t believe it, or if maybe they subscribe to the if-you-don’t-have-something-nice-to-say approach to feedback. If the latter is the case, I’m grateful.
But back to the ghosts…
Yes, I really experienced them. As to whether or not they were real ghost stories, my answer is also yes. While I took some liberties with descriptions of people and places in an attempt to protect some of the things in my life that I still care about, I didn’t with the ghosts. Those stories were told, as much as possible, exactly as I experienced them. If Darren ever reads the book (which to my knowledge he hasn’t and hopefully never will) he would be able to confirm at least three of them. He was there. We talked about them at the time. He was just as fascinated by them as I was, or at least he claimed to be.
So, what do I think about the ghosts themselves? Were they real? Were they figments of my imagination? Were they just stress reactions or the product of a transient dissociative state?
Of that answer, I am not as certain. All I know is what I experienced, and what I experienced fits the general description of a ghost. They were more than shadows cast by candlelight. They didn’t just come to me in dreams. They appeared in the night and in the day. They weren’t always lurking in the same dark hall or in an old building near outdated electrical wiring. They were everywhere. Some of them changed when I moved from one place to another. Others stayed with me like they were attached to my life somehow. Some of them spoke, some of them made their thoughts known without ever uttering a sound, and still, others gave away nothing of their objectives. They just stood or sat or floated as they wished, as silent witnesses.
Maybe the ghosts I see are simply products of my upbringing. I practically cut my teeth on Saturday afternoon’s Creature Feature with Dr. Paul Bearer, after all. Maybe I watched too many horror movies or read too much Stephen King during my formative years. (That being said, when I was kid, our neighbors buried each of their prizewinning Great Danes after they expired in an unmarked pet cemetery in far corner of their back yard. I have to admit that I eyed each replacement Dane cautiously for at least a month just to make sure it hadn’t been reanimated. For all I knew, their show dog burial field could have been a sacred Seminole ceremonial site at one time, though the idea that the Seminoles would have wasted their time and energy on reanimating anything didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I couldn’t dismiss the possibility without adequate due diligence.)
So, at this time in my life, where do I officially stand on the subject of ghosts? I think they exist. While my stories don’t prove that ghosts are real, they do provide more anecdotes for the circumstantial evidence pile. The only evidence I can offer of their existence is my personal experience, suggesting only that they are real for me. Beyond that, I can offer no other legitimate proof. Among the vast quantities of information we have compiled as humans, paranormal evidence falls far short of what we typically consider to be verifiable fact. But as much that exists in this world that we can explain through scientific measures, there is just as much that remains beyond our science, which leaves an opening.
So in closing on the subject, let me say this…
If you believe in ghosts, I honor your beliefs. If you don’t, I respect your disbelief. In whatever paradigm you spiritually or intellectually find a home, I hope you find comfort, peace, and personal growth; and no matter what you observe this season—be it Samhain, All Souls’ Day, Día de Muertos, Halloween, Bon, any of the other holidays observed around the world to honor those that have walked this earth before us, or if you observe nothing at all—I offer you this wish…
May your blessings be many, your worries be few, and may the spirits that visit be kind to you.