There is such a thing as a ghost and true to typical ghostly behavior, you never know when one will appear. Their manifestation will not be frequent enough that it is something you constantly think about, and you won’t find yourself looking for them around each corner. It does happen though: ghosts turn up when and where you least expect them.
That is precisely what happened to me the other night as I enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant. I turned around and stood face to face with a ghost. He was not the bad, scary kind of ghost that steals your breath and steels your heart, nor the type that haunts, but the type that hugs. So, I did, and then I tried to hold on to him forever as though he was my lost youth, which he is, for that is where he lived. When I stood back and looked at my ghost I saw that he is undeniably white, but just a little at the temples.
This ghost reminded me that I did indeed have another life. And when I hugged him I sighed because the embrace proved that he was not a vapor of my imagination, but flesh and blood and he was with me, stood beside me, lived near me and laughed with me back in those days when we were an extension of the same family. We grew up together. He helped me throw the fully decorated Christmas tree out the front door because Christmas was over but our wild ways were not. He held my hand and pulled me behind him as we ran so I wouldn’t stumble and fall into the hands of the town cop when we and our other hoodlum friends played our childish pranks. We followed each other into adulthood and I visited him in the hospital after his appendectomy and he did the same after my knee surgery. He was the one we invited to join us for dinner out. We sat in the same bleacher at basketball games, the same table at weddings, the same pew at funerals and attended graduations of the same graduates. This ghost’s children are cousins to my children, but everyone has grown up and grown away and all of this was so long ago in a life so long gone that only ghosts could possibly remain to remind anyhow.
My ghost makes me feel as if my life now is a reincarnation, although I did not die nor did he, because ghosts are born not only from death, but from moving on from one life to the next.
This ghost and I have a tangible history that began back there in our childhood, eons ago, then disappeared some where in the muddling of adulthood. Our history will stay just that, but the memories will follow me, like a ghostly shadow standing just behind me, his invisible but firm hand laid gently on my shoulder where it will rest for the remainder of my lives- my present life and my lives to come.
So once again we shared a table and a meal and held hands as we listened to each other’s ghost stories and laughed until we cried, so that our tears for our youth were shed, but disguised in myrrh.
The retelling of those old ghost stories reminded us that we were truly, solidly there in the past; it was not a dream. And even though I would never wish to, I know I can't go back again. I know that appreciating the apparition does not mean I wish to return to my youth, only that I have lived long enough to remember it kindly and be thankful for it daily. I am content enough to let it rest in peace.
But for just this one night my ghost and I evoke the spirits that we once were and we haunt the halls of houses that now stand empty and therefore full of ghosts. When the sun returns in the morning he will be gone, like all good ghosts, to that place where ghosts dwell- in your heart, in your memory, in your past.
Until the next time a ghost appears.
L.E. Hughes is a columnist, writer and owner of Diamond Corner B&B in Stratton, Maine. She welcomes your thoughts and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© October 2005 Lew-Ellyn Hughes. All Rights Reserved and Retained by the Author.