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Thank you for the birthday wishes.  We mostly celebrated my birthday last weekend since it was a long weekend. In addition to the trip to the Aquarium, Josh took me on a ghost tour in Alexandria.

He had thrown out other options for our date night—a movie, dinner at a favourite restaurant downtown, book browsing at Politics and Prose—but nothing sounded appealing. I was in a mood about turning 36 and uncomfortable in my own skin, tension-filled internal pacing (being carried out from a reclining position on the sofa because I’m not a fool—I’m not going to actually pace if I can lie down. In those cases, mental pacing suffices). I suggested the ghost tour because it gave us an excuse to drop in on friends who live in Virginia and eat at Bilbo Baggins.

Robert, the tour guide, had a tendency to mumble things quickly and then whip around and wiggle his fingers at you as his scare tactic.  Which wasn’t very scary.  His stories tended more towards campfire fare—for example, a headless, drunk colonial Alexandrian who apparently haunts dogs in case they’re the mutt who has stolen his severed head.

He ended the tour in the graveyard and ditched us—making it sound as if we’d never get out alive despite the fact that you could hear the motorcycles from Rolling Thunder a few streets away. Rather than make us quake in our Keens, it made—at least me—introspective, pausing to squint at the headstones and try to make out the names in the darkness.

We sat on a stone bench and watched other groups come into the cemetery and discuss its inhabitants. These ghosts were someone’s children. They may have been someone’s mother or father or sibling. Someone may have sat on this very bench consumed with grief after the person was gone and thought about them as they looked at their gravestone.

It’s sobering to sit in a graveyard, but it may be the only cure to feeling anxious about growing old. Disquiet loves company and sitting in the graveyard plugged me into a continuum of people who have considered their mortality—faced their mortality—and yet still the world turns.

I love the idea of ghosts. A little while after my cousin died, I noticed that different clocks in my house were exactly one hour off. One hour behind or one hour early. Different clocks in different rooms at different times. When I left for college, the same thing happened in each apartment—clocks would change, always by exactly one hour—and roommates would bitch about it, but I’d explain (like a crazy woman) that it was just my cousin, connecting with me from beyond. No explanation for why she chose to communicate through the clock, but perhaps that’s one of the easier methods to learn when you’re newly-dead. She still changes the clocks in my house to this day and I love it when it happens.

Based on this experience, my best friend and I made a list of ways we’d try to communicate with each other after we’re gone. We included a multitude of possibilities just in case some of our ideas were too difficult to learn for someone newly-dead. Josh was really upset when we informed him of our plan—thought we were morbid—but it made me feel comforted to know that even from beyond, I’d have moments where she would feel close. It makes me sick to think that there will one day be a time when we’re not able to be physically together–or to pick up the phone and call her–but I’m also well aware that there is nothing I can do to change the way life works. Ghosts are a small comfort.

I miss people who are gone too much to believe that once you are gone, you are completely gone. Losing them once was horrific enough, losing that hope is unfathomable.  It’s something I want to believe; perhaps doing so makes it true.

Do you believe that you can communicate with people who have died? And how does the idea of ghosts make you feel?


1 Shelli { 06.03.10 at 8:30 am }

Yes. I have stories that would send shivers up your spine. This topic is intensely personal to me, all of my life I’ve been in a love/hate state with some of my experiences. I’ve often wanted to blog about it, but do not ever want to be perceived as bat-shit crazy. lol.

I’m glad you had a nice birthday!

2 loribeth { 06.03.10 at 8:31 am }

I’m not sure I believe in ghosts per se — the whole malevolent spirits doing evil things, as seen in horror movies, etc. But I’m more comfortable with the idea of loved ones’ spirits hovering around to watch over us & make their presence felt. I find that kind of comforting, & not really scary at all — because I don’t believe they could do us any harm. I’m a pretty rational/practical person overall, but I do believe there are some things that just can’t be explained logically. I wrote on my blog once about what happened after my grandmother’s funeral. Scroll down near the bottom of this very long post about my grandparents to read the story:


3 Delenn { 06.03.10 at 8:32 am }

I love graveyards (Mt. Auburn here in MA is wonderful; although there are some wonderfully old and creepy ones in Concord, MA too). I agree with how one can be in touch with the mortality, being in graveyards, and how wierdly comforting that can be.

I do not believe in ghosts, per say. I think that there may be dimensions in time/space that the dead occupy–like traces of them have stayed there. I think of these as more like impressions and pieces of time, versus the actual person. As such, I don’t think communication is possible, but I do find comfort in that.

4 Kristin { 06.03.10 at 9:13 am }

I believe in special circumstances and, if you are open to the idea, it is possible to communicate with someone who has died. I personally have only had experience with benevolent spirits (my grandpa and my FIL) but, I can believe there are some malevolent ones out there. Overall, I have to say I am comforted by the idea of ghosts/spirits.

5 Rach { 06.03.10 at 9:56 am }

Being the daughter of a medium, I do believe in spirits.

I also know that my Dad visits me regularly and even before he passed, I knew that I was rarely “alone”.

6 WiseGuy { 06.03.10 at 10:00 am }

I believe they exist…yes, but not like horror-moviesque….the souls are all there somewhere…not necessarily interested in interfering with mortals.

7 caitsmom { 06.03.10 at 10:19 am }

Yes, I communicate with those I love who have died all the time. I’m not convinced that they communicate back to me. I see, hear, and discover signs, but recognize that these may be my mind making sense and making those connections. I still describe them as signs, though. Because they ARE my connection to my dead family–they ARE a sign. Peace.

8 Tally { 06.03.10 at 10:56 am }

Dad died 4 weeks ago this morning. I’m still waiting to feel him around me. Maybe I’m too busy getting ready for everything else in my life. Maybe I’m too scared to feel it. Maybe I stopped believing in ghosts.

I do know that as a kid I was highly in tune with my environment (or highly imaginative…). I remember waking up and feeling my grandmother tapping me on the shoulder about a year or two after she died. I just knew it was her… I will never begrudge someone else’s belief in spirits/ghosts, because there is comfort in that idea for them.

9 Kate (Bee In The Bonnet) { 06.03.10 at 11:01 am }

I have to admit that I’m somewhat of a cynic as it comes to any aspect of spirituality. I don’t believe in heaven or an afterlife, so it makes it more difficult to believe that there is anything of us that lives on after our bodies cease operating. Of course, that said, I do believe in basic physics, and conservation of matter, and that energy is matter and that our brains and thoughts and personalities are bound up in the energy of our body, so where does that go when the body ceases to support it?

So yeah. I don’t know exactly what I think about that “energy” being able to take on it’s own corporeal actions. I grew up with a graveyard less than a block from my house, and spent many, many hours hanging out there as a teen, so I don’t have much fear of graveyards, nor do I have any experiences with supernatural occurrences happening anywhere around or near the graves. But then again, if I was a ghost, would I waste my time trying to haunt a total cynic? Actually, if *I* was a ghost, I *would* pick a cynic, since it would be so much more rewarding to convince a non-believer that I existed…

10 Battynurse { 06.03.10 at 11:34 am }

I find the idea of ghosts fascinating and would love to “see” one some day. I don’t know if I would call it communication but I know that I’ve had some dreams about a couple of people that had passed away where I definitely felt like they were somehow communicating with me.

11 N { 06.03.10 at 11:39 am }

I absolutely believe in ghosts, and to me that’s both a good and a scary thing. I haven’t figured that part out quite yet. I know that my brother hang around – or, well, he used to, at least.

12 Kir { 06.03.10 at 12:06 pm }

I believe in lots of things. ghosts being one of them. Or at least the idea that the people I love are somewhere beyond here and keeping in touch with things that remind me of them at times that I really NEED them.

When we were in the middle of treatments, I would hear “ROCK THE BOAT” or “THE HUSTLE” every morning on XM radio..and it was weird. These are “DADDY songs” (John’s words for them) and they would be on as we drove to b/w, or u/s, or appts and I’d know that he was up there, watching.
The day I got married, I was getting photos done and I turned around quickly and before I could even process it, I saw over by the window of the hall, my 2 grandmas and my great grandma in the dresses I always thought of them in standing there, holding daises and smiling at me…they were gone in a second, but there they were…seeing me on my wedding day,just like I’d always dreamed.

I think when I see my BFF this weekend, we will come up with our own list to communicate after this….I would miss her too much not to.


13 chickenpig { 06.03.10 at 12:27 pm }

I have communicated with the dead on numerous occasions. And I do mean communicated as in have a back and forth, not just seeing clocks move…although I have experienced that kind of thing too. I have had run ins with several ghosts, but ghosts of the kind that most ppl encounter are basically just energy, a kind of recording that just keeps playing on a continuous loop. There isn’t a ‘being’ there. You can leave an imprint on a place and ‘haunt’ it without having even died. I have only had one run in with what I would consider an actual ghost, and it was unnerving. I have communicated with both my grandparents and my father after they died, but eventually they move on, and you WANT them to. I do hope that they can hear me, and sometimes I’ve gotten little ‘post its’ that let me know they are checking in…kind of like your clock thing.

14 Mrs. Spit { 06.03.10 at 12:27 pm }

I hear Fishing in the Dark by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, which was a song that my father and I listened to so much we literally wore the tape out. I hear it accidentally, on the radio on special days, it will come up on my ipod during difficult times.

I don’t know if it’s my father communicating with me as much as God reminding me that even heaven isn’t far enough away that we can’t feel the love of our family and friends.

15 Guera! { 06.03.10 at 1:09 pm }

I believe that anything is possible and there’s no way to know everything. There is so much we don’t know and it’s arrogant to think that we do. If you or someone close to me tells me about a personal experience with a spirit I will probably analyze, although not intensely, and then believe it. It’s stories that are passed down that I doubt. We just simply can’t be sure that ghosts DON’T exist and I love the idea that they might. There is clearly more to us than flesh and bone and I have a handful of my personal ghostly experiences as well.

16 Tara { 06.03.10 at 1:25 pm }

The idea of ghosts comforts me…having my loved ones who have passed on are looking out for me from beyond…like having guardian angels.

17 HereWeGoAJen { 06.03.10 at 2:03 pm }

I don’t believe in ghosts, but I don’t not believe in ghosts either. I’ve never had a ghost.

18 kristi { 06.03.10 at 2:03 pm }

I believe we can communicate with our loved ones spirits. Every once and awhile I know my grandma is smiling at me. Like she’s stopping for a couple seconds to say I’m here. I also had a very vivid dream of my little brother coming to visit me. It was so real I didn’t want to wake up. Now random ghosts scare the poo out of me. Fortunatly I haven’t experienced that maybe I’ve watched to much ghost whisperer.

19 Wishing4One { 06.03.10 at 3:05 pm }

I’m not sure what I believe about ghosts… my mother totally is into the idea of spirits around the living and LOVES graveyards. She and her husband walk in their local graveyard more than once a week. The only few “experiences” i have had are: back in the mid 90’s when my Grandmother had her first stroke, I felt something. I called immediately, as I lived in another state and sure enough my Dad told me what happened. She passed away in 2000. Then back in Dec 2005 my other grandmother, just before she died, my mother sat with her in her bedroom she was staring at something intensely when my mother asked her what she was looking at she said “I’m watching Wishing4One and her baby playing….” In January 2006 when i got back to Cairo from the US I found I was pregnant 6 weeks but it was tubal. So I guess I believe its possible even while we are alive to feel certain things. Oh happy belated 36 girl, it only gets better I hear, and I am older than you! xoxox

20 Jackie { 06.03.10 at 3:57 pm }

You and your bff sound a lot like me and my bff. That’s just the kind of strange conversation we’d have – though my DH would probably just join in rather than being upset.
To answer the questions, I don’t know if WE can communicate with people who have died anytime we want, but I do believe that they can choose to communicate with us – through dreams, through small gestures (like the clocks you mention), etc. I firmly believe that my dad has communicated with both my sister and I, and it’s a huge comfort to both of us.
As for how I feel about ghosts, well I grew up in a haunted house. My older sister and i both knew about it, and we both had reason to believe that it was a little girl. She told me years later that she actually had seen an outline of her one morning. As a child, it terrified me (I was easily scared anyway), but now that I’m older, I wish I could go back to that house and see if she’s still there.
The idea of ghosts does have a very positive side for me. It gives me hope that my dad, who didn’t get to see any of his daughters grow up, will get a chance to see his future grandchildren grow up.

21 a { 06.03.10 at 5:06 pm }

I believe that my dad (any my grandparents and my aunt) watches over all of us. I’m not much for hauntings and spiritual unrest, but I find the stories interesting. I do find graveyards to be very peaceful places…which is handy, since there’s one behind my house.

Everyone I work with claims our building is haunted. I suppose it’s possible, since it used to be a TB sanitorium. I don’t worry about ghosts – I don’t know if they exist or not, but I don’t imagine that they would bother with me since I had nothing to do with their lives.

22 Lori Lavender Luz { 06.03.10 at 5:25 pm }

I love your clock story.

I totally plan to give comfort to my sisters (bio and chosen) in whatever way I can figure out. And I know they will do the same.

23 Stephanie { 06.03.10 at 5:35 pm }

Nice ghosts are just fine. I think it would be awesome to know that they are somewhere close watching over us. My grandfather’s number (for various reasons) is #15, so we always see it pop up in unexpected places and it makes us smile – for example, it was the number of the operating room my mom was in for a particularly scary surgery that she recovered nicely from. This post is timely because I was just in a graveyard – my uncle passed last week – and I too find them peaceful places.

24 Ana Goncalves { 06.03.10 at 6:07 pm }

Sounds like you had quite an experience with the ghost tour, and in more ways than one it bought you closer to the realization of death and communication between those who are living in the mortal world, and others who have passed through.
I think that ‘ghosts’ are a form of energy that hans around in the physical world. For most part it is to communicate with those that are living. I have experienced, seen and communicated with many forms of energy and these have many at times seen as ‘angels, negative energy, ghosts, and other energy which weren’t quite ghosts, but were people at the same time even though vanished into thin air’. I think to be able to tap into this world, it helps to have an open mind and to be in tune with oneself, and the whole world at the same time through the universal connection we all share. That connection is the source of energy we are all binded with. Communication is sure a powerful thing, and even more connective when we are open to all forms and variations of it.
If you’d like to read a bit more about my experiences, feel free to visit the following entry in my blog. 🙂
I’m happy to be part of IComLeavWe as just found out about it yesterday. 🙂

25 Bea { 06.04.10 at 12:12 am }

I’m a skeptic. I’m skeptical about the existence of ghosts, and I’m skeptical about the non-existence of ghosts, too. (I like to take my skepticism to the next level.) I’m not 100% convinced I’ve ever communicated with the spirit world… but there have been a couple of things here and there which have been just too poetic for words. So. I don’t know. There’s just a lot we can’t explain and until we can, I’m not ruling anything out.

The clocks, for example – weird.


26 Rebecca { 06.05.10 at 4:02 am }

I have several ghosts around me. Usually my grandma, sometimes my baby cousin who died of meningitis, occasionally but not often my dad.

27 MLO { 06.05.10 at 5:35 am }

It is odd for me to think of not believing in the unseen. I grew up in a family of Appalachian stock. The combination of Celtic and Cherokee mythos infused with a particular brand of Christianity (of the time) made it difficult to realize that everyone didn’t know that ghosts, reincarnation, etc. are simply points of transition in a journey that has little to do with what we perceive as time – except our perception.

Of course, my family is weird. The one and only time I may have had an experience I was told there was no way the particular ghost would be harmful and was laughed at. Not for thinking there was ghost, but of being scared of the particular ghost.

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