Ghost Story

Here we are in October, rolling toward the holidays with the anticipation of ghouls, ghosts and goblins that visit on October 31, All Hallows Eve. Many cultures celebrate November 1st called by different names All Saints Day, All Souls Day and Dia de Los Muertos, a day to honor those who passed before. The practice goes back centuries in Christian culture and ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs. A day of prayer and remembrance after a night of hijinks and revelry.

Well, I have a real ghost story. There have been times in my life when the unexplained/unexplainable occurred. Are they mind tricks? Is it wishful thinking? Or are there spirits reaching from the other side? I’ve journaled about these times and told friends about them. Now I will share one such experience with you.

It happened over fifty-five years ago and is as vibrant in memory as if it happened fifteen minutes ago. My father passed away unexpectantly. He had serious heart issues, but I did not think he was on the brink of death. Dad and I were very close. He got me. He was the loving bridge, firmly anchored on my side, across a chasm of mother-daughter expectations.  Dad was an invaluable ally to a headstrong teen.

Married at eighteen, by twenty-two I was in my own home with a husband and two young children (a baby of one month and a toddler eighteen months). Our little family lived out in the “sticks”, the only place we could afford a house. My parents and brother lived a few miles away in another town, so we saw them about once a week.  Dad loved being with his grandbabies.

Mom called to give me the news that Daddy had passed. Devastated, inconsolable, I descended into a robotic state doing only what was needed. Grief held my heart in a spikey vice grip, severed from my body.

Several nights later, I was driving home on a dark, rain-slick road after going to the grocery store miles away for a few necessities. My husband was home with the babies. It was mid-February in the Pacific Northwest, cold, dank, and dreary. I was enveloped in a blackness not only of the night but of spirit. The empty country road bordered by an ominous phalanx of fir trees was unlit, no traffic ahead or behind me, only the thin beam from my headlights to guide me. I wept, thinking about my father, cheeks drenched in tears, the deepest sorrow I had ever known. In a haze, I pictured accelerating off a curve in the road into the woods, slamming against a tree to stop the pain. No thought of my husband, children, mother, or brother – just the unbearable ache of wanting to be with my father.

“Honey, you have many, many miles to go before you are done.” My father was next to me in the car telling me to go on. I glanced at the passenger seat, nothing, no one; yet his voice was as clear as crystal and so was his message. My sobs stopped instantly. The death grip on my heart released. My attention focused on the road. I felt wrapped in a warm embrace. He was with me. His voice is still distinct, those words still in my ear when I recall that night. I know my father saved my life. We will meet again.

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