Everyone I know loves a good ghost story. I come from a long line of believers in the other world, some of whom claim to have had visitations, dreams, or visions from the other side. As for whether or not I believe, I guess I’m not sure. I think I’ve decided that there is no harm in believing, as long as you don’t bet the house on it.
I was thinking about this because I just read a story in our local paper about a house that was recently purchased from a local family to become the new headquarters of our EMT group. The house had belonged to a long-time Village resident, a lovely woman who went to my church. She was blind, yet ran the very hectic newsstand at the train station in town, and was known to everyone who commutes to New York City from this major hub. Sadly, two years ago this March, she stepped out from behind the newsstand, as she did every day, and lost her way during her trek to her usual break spot. The elevator that she normally took to go to the platform was broken so she took a different one, confusing her. She ended up on the tracks and was killed by a speeding Amtrak train on its way north. Her daughters, who worked side-by-side with her every day, were there when the EMTs and our pastor came to shepherd her body to the medical examiner’s office.
The family home sat vacant on a street not far from the train station and her children decided to sell it to the Village so that our brave and compassionate EMTs would have a new, state-of-the art building from which to conduct their business. Everyone was thrilled at this turn of events and the EMTs moved in recently, taking some time last summer to do some renovations prior to setting up shop.
One by one, they began reporting strange and inexplicable occurrences. First, there was the laughter coming from various rooms of the house. Somewhere, merriment was being made, despite the fact that nobody lived there anymore. Children could be heard giggling, as could the sound of a woman laughing. After that, things began moving. First a roll of paper towels, then a few other things. The wind was not an explanation during the still heat of an East Coast summer. Finally, there was the story of the EMT chief in the attic. While fixing the attic fan—which resided below him, it’s large, sharp blades turning as he worked—he grew dizzy and passed out, falling toward the blades of the fan and to his certain death. When he awoke? He was beside the fan with nary a scratch on him.
Once a skeptic, he’s now a believer.
The newsstand woman’s family is comforted tremendously by these stories of sprit interventions and goings on in their childhood home. Nobody seems frightened by the fact that something is going on there; from all accounts, the vibe is positive and good. No poltergeists or demons, just the laughter of a woman and her children and some prank playing in the form of misplaced paper towels. And one life-saving intervention, if all is to be believed.
It got me thinking: why is it that we love these stories? Is it proof that there is life beyond our death? Is it a comfort to know that the people we loved, or even knew tangentially, are looking out for us, resting on our shoulders, providing us with solace and safety? I’m not sure. For me, it’s all about the comfort. I remember, during a particularly difficult time during my cancer treatment, prone on the couch, sick as a dog, a voice spoke to me. I was somewhere between sleep and waking, that lovely calm place that brings us peace before we go into our dream space. As I lay there, I thought about my situation and how it was going to take nothing short of a miracle to get me well, when a voice inside my head said, “You’re going to be ok. You’re going to be ok.” It wasn’t my voice, nor was it a voice I had ever heard. It wasn’t male. It wasn’t female. It just was.
Maybe it was just my subconscious sending me a message I wanted to hear. Maybe it wasn’t. All I know is at that moment, I felt a spiritual intervention on my behalf. Does that make me crazy? Maybe. But I’m ok, just as the voice told me I would be. I’m ok just like the EMT chief who surely should be dead, if something hadn’t intervened on his behalf. So I’m going to continue to open my heart and head to the laughter of those who came before us. Because it doesn’t cost us anything to believe.
What do you think, Stiletto faithful?