I’m pleased by the response to my offhand mention of the ghost in my house, because I love ghost stories, my own and others’. As promised, here’s my tale about how I met my ghost–and I promise it’s not scary.
I saw a full-body apparition in my back garden several years ago. It was not my first unusual experience, although it was my first apparition. I’ve been the recipient of too many premonitions to count (one of them really scary, about a problem with an airplane, that proved terrifingly accurate), several visitations, some true dreams, and not a few incidents of extra-sensory perception. But Fosdick was, and is still, my only actual apparition.
I collect other people’s experiences, too. I was at a Cabi party (it’s like Tupperware for clothes, and the togs are fantastic) and the poor saleswoman got completely sidelined while we all swapped our tales of extranormal experiences. Two stood out from that evening: One was told by a woman who heard a voice telling her not to pull out into an intersection, and narrowly missed being T-boned. The other was a widow whose deceased husband showed up at their daughter’s wedding, wearing the running clothes he had on when he was struck and killed by a vehicle.
My little story isn’t nearly that exciting, more curious. Something about the very mundanity of it pleases me.
Three days before we moved to the Town at the End of the Road, my beloved Scottie, Piper, who was my heart dog, unexpectedly and traumatically died. I was heartbroken, grieving in the midst of the excitement of moving to a place we had always wanted to live. In the enormous back garden, which at that time was unfenced, so that theoretically anyone could walk in off the street, I made a little shrine with the tiny urn of Piper’s ashes in the center. I surrounded it with stones, and put in a couple of flowering plants.
That simple little memorial was clearly charged with emotion. Birds gathered there often, perching on the stones. One morning I found a fawn, all by itself, curled up next to the urn. (There are lots of deer in this town, but usually fawns stick close to their mothers.)
The day of my sighting I was alone at the house. Our bedroom is on the lower level, with windows and a glass door opening onto the garden. The bathroom is connected, so that when you come out of it you can turn right and go out into the garden if you want—and if you have clothes on—which I didn’t.
I had just come out of the downstairs shower, starkers, headed for my closet for some clothes. I glanced casually to my right, and to my horror, saw there was a man in the garden. He was wearing a bright blue shirt, and he was kneeling beside Piper’s shrine, reaching in as if to straighten the little pottery urn.
I leaped back into the bathroom for a towel to wrap myself in, a maneuver that could only have taken three seconds. When I looked out at the garden again, the man had disappeared. Of course I went out the door, looking for him, but he was gone.
I spent some time trying to convince myself I hadn’t seen what I saw. I do have a vivid imagination, of course, because I couldn’t do my work without it. It was no use trying to talk myself out of it, though. He was there. I think he was drawn to the emotions around that little shrine, and I also think, after doing some research, that it could have been a man named Fosdick, who lived in this wonderful house for many years. I can imagine he loved this place as much as we do, and left a bit of his energy behind.
I only saw him once in that way. Since then, half a dozen times or so, I’ve caught a glimpse of a shadow moving down an upstairs hallway. It’s not in the least scary, or creepy. He’s welcome here, and he’s doing no harm at all. I had to move the shrine as we improved the garden. We have a fence now, to keep the deer out and the new dog in. I don’t expect to see Fosdick again. It was just a unique moment, a startling experience that probably won’t repeat. I wish he’d come back and say hello, though!
It has always been my intention to hold a ghost story night at the Rainforest Writers Retreat or at some friendly convention. We would have to have rules, like stories with only one or two degrees of separation, but it would be fascinating. At one of my events for the release of The Witch’s Kind I was asked about my own paranormal experiences, and once I got started, I talked for almost an hour. I hadn’t even realized I had so many, and I received a lot of them in return.
If you would like to share yours here, please do, but no debunking, please. We know these events are neither provable nor repeatable. They are the unique expressions of intense emotions, ours or the ghost’s, or the result of some external condition, like my airplane premonition, things we can’t control (and which I hope never to experience again!) Like this lengthy anecdote, they require context and explanation, which is why a candlelit gathering of writers and readers—with wine, I hope—would be the perfect venue.
Let’s do that sometime, my friends, when we’re able to be together! In the meantime, stay safe in this Year of Plague. As the redoubtable Queen Elizabeth says, we’ll meet again.