Sunday, March 02, 2008

In which the Meridian tells a ghost story

Taken by the Mrs. last winter.

Note: While the telling of this story is a fiction, the event described herein is not. I chose to tell it in this way to get outside it a bit so I would be able to tell it at all.

emawkc: So. You're finally getting around to doing this?

Me: Yeah. Sorry for the delay.

emawkc: What took so long?

Me: To be honest, I was having trouble coming up with something that was worth posting for this tag. But last night I remembered something that feels just right for it.

emawkc: What caused you to remember it?

Me: It happened again. Last night.

emawkc: I'm looking at the title for this post . . . You saw a ghost?

Me: Well, no--more like "felt intensely a presence."

emawkc: Do you know who it was?

Me: Yes. My father.

emawkc: How do you know?

Me: The times it's happened before, it's always been a night after I have been thinking about him a lot.

emawkc: Times? More than a couple?

Me: Yes. I've lost count but, counting last night, four or five.

emawkc: So what happened?

Me: Well, yesterday, I had been thinking about him intensely all day. He's been dead since 1981, when I was 19. He was barely 40 when he died. He was in remission from the Hodgkins that he'd been diagnosed in 1963 as having a terminal case of, but all his chemo had weakened his immune system. So when he died, he died quickly--we had no real time to prepare. We took him to the hospital one night, and he died the following afternoon--he'd almost died that first night there in the hospital, in fact. So anyway, let's just say that even now, some regrets linger--not just things from when he was alive, but things since then: his not getting to see his graddaughters, that sort of thing.

emawkc: Yeah.

Me: So last night I was working on my new blog, and--

emawkc: Wait--you have a new blog?

Me: Yeah. I thought you knew.

emawkc: I guess I missed it. Well? What's it about?

Me: Well . . . you know how Blog Meridian's chief goal is to be a royal pain in the blogosphere at large?

emawkc: I'm glad it's you saying that . . .

Me: Domestic Issue is just aiming at being a faint, dull ache in a small area of the lower-right buttock of the academic blogosphere.

emawkc: A worthy ambition. Go on--sorry to interrupt.

Me: Anyway. It was late--earlier that night I had fallen asleep at the computer--so I went on to bed. It took a little while to finally get to sleep, but I did eventually. I don't know how long I'd been asleep, but a sensation woke me up.

emawkc: Can you describe it?

Me: I'll try. It's a combination of that sound of blood rushing in your ears--a steady roar like standing next to a powerful set of rapids; a pressure weighing my whole body down--not a crushing pressure, but firm enough that I don't feel as though I can move easily, if at all; and the feeling that I can't catch my breath, even though I know I can breathe. And the presence of someone in the room, even though there's nothing to see. It's very intense and more than a little frightening, but at the same time I don't feel any menace in it. Does that make sense? I suppose it's because I "know" it's my father, even though nothing overtly happens that would confirm that. But last night was a little different from the other times.

emawkc: How so?

Me: This time, I felt a squeezing on my left bicep--it was oddly comforting, despite all those other feelings. Also, it felt at one point like my legs were being raised up by something other than me. And this time, I could talk a little; the other times, I would try but nothing would come out.

emawkc: What did you say?

Me: I don't remember exactly. Something like, "What do you want?" In a frightened way, admittedly, but also out of the desire to know, if he has something he wants me to know.

emawkc: Maybe he just wants to, you know, look in on you.

Me: I've thought that before, too. Frankly, though, I wish he had a less-obtrusive way of doing it. I don't associate any of what happens with anything from when he was alive.

emawkc: I almost forgot--what about Der Wunderhund or whatever it is you call him?

Me: Oh--Scruffy? I don't know. I didn't hear him, but with that sound in my head it's as though I can't hear anything else but that. Cowering under the bed? Sound asleep in the living room? I don't know.

emawkc: Some watch-dog. I thought dogs were supposed to be attuned to the presence of ghosts.

Me: Yeah, well, don't be too hard on him. I don't think he's had much prior experience with the supernatural. Besides. It'd been so long since the last time this happened, I'd almost forgotten that they had ever happened. And if it'd been in my power, I'd have been cowering under the bed, too.

emawkc: Or asleep.

Me: Even better.

emawkc: So anyway, how long did this last?

Me: Not hours, thank God. I really can't say, though: when this happens, time moves very very slowly--the combination of waiting to see what will happen and wanting it to end as soon as possible.

emawkc: Anything else you want to add?

Me: No--just that, just as suddenly as it began, it ended. The pressure eased up; I could breathe easily, but I didn't pant--I'm able to get plenty of air when this is happening, but it doesn't feel like I can. I felt exhausted, and so I just dropped right off to sleep. Then this morning, I awoke feeling fully rested, as though I'd slept soundly for a full night. I didn't even feel the need for coffee first thing this morning, the way I usually do.

emawkc: I'm listening and ticking off the possible rational explanations, and they don't seem to match up with what you describe.

Me: I know. It's not apnea, though I suspect I do have that. I don't think it's a heart attack--you'd think that over time, as often as this has happened, other signs of heart trouble would have shown up, and they just haven't. I feel certain it's no dream, though sure, that's possible. These, um, events do follow times that I have been thinking about my father especially intensely, I admit, but I'm not the sort of person who dreams about stuff that worries him--if and when he remembers his dreams, that is. And when I dream, I'm aware that I'm dreaming. But these events are different. I feel as awake during them as I do right now.

emawkc: I don't know what to say.

Me: Me neither. I will say this, though: If there's a rational explanation for this, I'll freely and happily accept it. I'm also by nature skeptical of the vast majority of claims made about so-called supernatural events. They either have rational, very natural explanations, or they are the product of hoaxes or of ingestion of chemicals of various sorts. Or some combination thereof. But I also believe there is a thing called the soul and that it exists independent of our bodies. It doesn't die when we die. The particulars of heaven and hell, I can't speak to. But so long as I admit of the possibility of the soul and of its existence beyond the body's death, I cannot deny the possibility that what happened to me last night, and what has happened to me in the past, was indeed a visit from my father.

emawkc: What do you think regular readers of this blog will make of this story?

Me: I don't know. They are free agents. But if it's any comfort to them, I really don't know what to make of it, either.


R. Sherman said...

I'm sending you an e-mail, and not one about N.U., but one about this. It may take a couple of days.

Thanks for sharing.


Gwynne said...

That is intense. Perhaps it is something you should share with you doctor, although it sounds to me like you may be in that state of partial dream/sleep vs. being fully awake.

Cordelia said...

Dream or other, it is a visit in any case. I remember once when my mother told me that she had had a dream of (not a visitation from)her father: "It was good to see him again." It is good that your father was with you again. Doesn't matter how he got there.

Sheila said...

I've meant to tell you this struck a nerve.

Now I've only experienced so-called visitations in dreams, so -- sure, it makes sense to say that they're just stories I made up to make sense of electrical excitement in my sleeping brain. Visits along a one-way street, so to speak.

But I am comforted by these manifestations -- of my father, my friend Ed, even a departed pet cat -- and always wake with a sense of gratitude.

"Thanks for stopping by. Good to have seen you again."