contacting the dead


Ghost (Photo credit: Pétur Gauti)

I have written about how Rob and I are haunted.

In the past I’ve attributed much of the goings on to the house itself. Speculated that it’s perhaps a conduit. But I think more and more that it’s just Rob and I. We attract a lot of – largely unwelcome – contact from “the other side”.

Well-meaning though it is, I myself am weary of the advanced spiritual warning system the departed whom I am closely, and not all that closely, connected to feel I need.

Twice in the last week, I’ve received shout outs.  Literally and by name. From the “beyond”.

Both times it was morning and I was abed. The first occurred after the neighbor woke me – again – when he started up his piece of shit diesel truck so it could idle the necessary 15 minutes before he left for work. Fifteen minutes. From 6:15 AM to 6:30 AM.  I wouldn’t need an alarm if I felt at all inclined to get up 45 minutes earlier than I absolutely have to on a weekday morning.

That morning, as I lay there wishing that the neighbor was working nights this week instead of days, I heard my name.  Rob was curled like a hedgehog to my right and clearly not moved by the sputtering outside, but the voice was on the other side of the bedroom door and not Dee’s though at first I thought it was her and that she was already up and downstairs.

I listened.  Nothing but engine in dire need of a tune-up could be heard.

The second time was just last Thursday.  I woke at 5 AM for reasons best explained by the fact that I am almost 49 and the plumbing is in various stages of being decommissioned.  I am zen about the early awakenings accompanied by sleep loss. It’s temporary – though “temporary” is relative – and I just endure, but on mornings when I begin my day two hours into sleep debt, I generally go back to bed once I have the child on the bus and Rob bundled off to work.

As I snuggled in, I heard a man call out my name in an urgent tone.  Like “hey, pay attention!”.  Which I did but nothing followed.  At first I thought Rob had returned because it sounded like him but then I realized it was my father’s voice.

Thanks, Dad.

The first incident I wrote off to randomness. After all, I’d experienced odd rattling of the blinds in the office a few times over the preceding weeks that amounted to nothing as well.  Sometimes the dear departed are just rattling about aimlessly.  Voices, however, are never without motive.  Ever.  If they bother to put something to vocals, something is up.

I endeavoured to remain calm.  I didn’t mention it to Rob.  He’d had a terrible week that began with semi-competent dentistry and a summons from his cardiologist for his yearly stress test.

“Do you want me to come along?” I asked.

“You can if you want,” he said.

In the back of both of our minds is the example of his sister, LW, whose husband dropped dead during his stress test.

But the second calling spooked me.  Dee was heading off to Girl Guides camp for the weekend and Rob was still recouping from 5 hours of dental surgery/torture/malpractice, and then there are elderly family, my sister’s husband heading out into the wilds of Iowa with a crossbow for the start of hunting season and the fact that the United States seems to be on the verge of imploding.

What the fuck, Dad? You couldn’t clue me as to what to focus on?

But now it is Sunday night.  Dee arrived home from camp with tales of blind people, their dogs and how haunted houses should have “medium” scary settings for children her age, and Rob hasn’t injured himself at all as he reno’d about this weekend.

As far as I know, no one in the family died, and the Frankenstorm might generate enough “love thy neighbor” vibe to curb the American tendency to get a bit “dramatic” in whatever aftermath the election gods – in their perverse way of deciding things – blesses the country with this time.

Voices from … elsewhere … nearly always reveal their intentions within a relatively short frame of time, so I sit with one shoe on the floor and the other waiting to drop from another dimension as though this were a Poltergeist sequel.

For those Edmontonian’s still searching for the perfect Mother’s Day gift, there are still great seats available for the Sylvia Browne show. I first heard that she would be further traumatizing the bereaved from a widow whose son attends the children’s group at Pilgrim’s Hospice with our daughter. She really wanted to go and had registered herself in a contest to win a free ticket. Ms. Browne generally doesn’t sweep the audience à la  John Edwards in search of the perfect cold reading victim. She has people picked out in advance and spends more time spewing her version of the afterlife than purposefully making contact. Although if there were an afterlife in the Christian sense of the word, it probably would recoil from her tentacles, hissing. 

I have seen Ms.Browne on the Montel Williams show. A repellent personality, brusque and quite unsympathetic, I didn’t know whether to be horrified or amused by her dismissive replies to the queries of obliviously distressed loved ones. She told one person that the dead don’t care about what happens to those that they left behind in anything but the most abstract terms. They “forget about us” because they are “in heaven and too happy”. Wow, there’s Christianity and all its virtues at its finest. Tough luck to those left behind ’cause I made it in. See ya. She has thrown some of the more fragile a bone of assurance that the deceased didn’t suffer, but that’s about the extent of the milk of human kindness that runs through her shriveled soul.

She and John Edwards both make me sick with horror for the most part. Playing people’s deepest pain for profit. Believing what I do about our souls and their journeys makes me particularly contemptuous, but hopeful that both of these truly evil people get a good dressing down and a century or more of remedial training before they are set loose down on earth among human beings again.

I understand the need to know that a deceased loved one is safe and happy and to have the chance to exchange unspoken words, but most people could do that as easily for themselves rather than waste their money and expose themselves to charlatans like Browne. I tried to ask the young widow at hospice group if she had tried talking to her husband herself and she assured me that she did all the time, but I think she is still too raw and traumatized to listen and look for his reassurance. I was about as far out as she when I finally was able to see and feel my late husband’s little incursions into our life. Perhaps it will be the same for her. I hope so.