Did you ever watch Star Trek Next Generation?

We did.

Well, Rob did on his own in his previous life here and there, and I did on my own in my former existence in Iowa. Another instance of the eerie way our data banks contain common touch points that supersede the need for us to have “grown up” together.

On the show, one of the characters is an empath. Deanna Troi was half-human and half Betazed. Betazeds were telepaths and empaths. In effect they read the minds and emotions of those around them. Deanna was just an empath. She sensed only feelings. I never envied the ability to perceive feelings as much as the ability to read minds. Being bombarded by the emotional stew of the middle school I worked in wasn’t high on my list of need-to-do’s. Little teens project loudly enough without a teacher needing an added psychic enhancement in her arsenal of weapons.

One of the women in my yoga teacher training is an empath.

Yes, empaths exist outside the world of make-believe.

She woke up with the ability after being hit by a car. Quite a remarkable story without the extra sensory perception angle. The accident nearly cost her an arm and doctors told her she would never regain its use, but she re-habbed herself essentially using yoga and has close to full mobility today.

She told us all this during the introductions on the first weekend and though I was curious about her empath ability, I made it a point not to get too near her, especially after the first practice when she announced,

“I can feel the pain radiating all around me.”

Not clear on what kind of pain or whether she was one of those who can sense illness as well (some empaths can tell if you are sick. I’ve learned about a gentlemen down in Redwater that some folk around The Fort see who has diagnosed cancers and other equal nasty illnesses), I decided that the whole thing was too creepy for me. And I live in a haunted house remember, so the shiver factor has to be high to repel me.

Yesterday at Anatomy however, I ended up sitting not too far from her and during a break was drawn into a conversation where her ability came up.

A younger lady, maybe Mick’s age, has back issues and I observed the Empath run her hand side to side along the girl’s affected areas, drawing out pain. She doesn’t touch the skin at all. Her hand is about two inches away from any sort of contact. The girl’s eyes widened and she flinched away a bit.

“Wow,” was all she could say.

Mentally I noted to increase my distance in future and then the conversation turned to me,

“I was practicing next to you on the last weekend,” she said.

I hadn’t noticed. Really need to be more aware, I thought. The practices in February were brutal. Two plus hours and lots of hanging in asanas.

“Your ankles were just screaming.”

I acknowledged my ankle weaknesses though truthfully, it’s just the right that is painful – and most of the time – though I have been accustomed to it and don’t notice unless I have really been working it.

She nodded and her look was a mix of pity, sorrow and sympathy.

Run away, my mind said. This person is way too sensitive and I have a sneaking suspicion it is not just physical ailments that she can intuit.

I can be, when I am  paying attention, a fairly astute judge of people’s interiors. Probably related to my psychic “sight” but maybe not. The ability to sense spirit activity might be some different awareness all together. But I find the empath thing a bit scary in the same way I find palm readers and psychic readings a bit off-putting. I am not certain that we should have “heads up” on things. The future may be limited in actual directions and choices due to much of what we have already chosen and paths we have taken, but there is still some play that could be compromised by foreknowledge.

It’s like Greek mythology. Over and over in the myths there are gods and humans with peeks into their destiny who try to change or stop them but they never do. In fact they make things worse for themselves than if they’d simply prepared and faced the prophecies head on.

I will not be getting cozy with the Empath,  I think*.

* Updated to add: I did find myself working with her in small groups and sitting right next to her at the weekend in March. I am going to admit to have been a bit too quick to queasy and, in fact, overly dramatic when I wrote this post originally. Living, as I do, in house where spirits turn lights on, sometimes stomp and bang and occasionally jump on my bed – while I am in it – and have even spoken to me, I am completely in line with the idea of  everything is essentially one and that we are all tied together whether we know it or not. So I am careful in places that I sense are “alive” and with people who are even more attune to the flow of energy than I am.

I am such a contradiction. I can write nearly anything personal about myself, but in real life, I miss my barriers. I miss them because I have found that I can’t step out and away from interaction and keep to myself as was my wont in years gone by.

The Empath is a very kind person and it’s easy to see that her awareness is a burden though she manages it with far more grace than I think most people would. I think, in addition to the fact that I would rather not be “known” but “reveal” on my own terms, I don’t want to be a source of pain to her. I have a creaky old body. Worse for the wear of the last decade. Universe forbid that anyone have to deal with it than I.

John Edwards is a fraud. I recoil from that show of his in horror, watching that twenty questions act of his peel people of signs and information that he uses to convince them he can communicate with their deceased loved ones. He is about as physic as my daughter’s cat. Sylvia Browne is another charlatan who shouldn’t be pandered to by talk show divas or publishers. One gem that she vomited forth is particularly telling. She was asked if our loved ones think about us or worry about us after they are gone. Ms. Browne replied, “No, they are in heaven and they don’t care.” Aside from being utterly insensitve and as blunt as a board upside the head, anyone who has received signs or visits from those who have gone on knows that Slyvia is not a psychic either. Back in the days when I was trying so desperately to have a child, my best friend and I went to a Psychic Fair. I sat down with a couple of them. One used a regular playing deck of cards and the other a Tarot set, but they were both completely wrong. I have had more psychic moments than either of those women, but I am sure they are somewhere taking money from innocent people right now and giving them nothing but showy garbage in return.

Last night Rob’s oldest daughter, Farron, came out to the house for supper. Like her dad (and me too I admit) she was late. I don’t think any of us manage to be anywhere we say we are going to be on time anymore. It’s a rare occurrence when I am not walking in at the last minute when I am not outright just plain tardy. Supper was a bit rushed as I had my deep water exercise class, but Farron assured me she would still be around when I got back.

When I returned, Rob, Farron and myself sat in the living room and listened to Farron discuss her man woes. She is not quite twenty-five and as I remember that time myself, men woeful or joyful is just about the center of the universe as far as preoccupation of thoughts, time and energy go. Eventually though the topic turned to the house. Our house is haunted. Truly. Farron had just made a comment on how the dishwasher’s noises sounded ghost-like and Rob brought up my last spirit encounter.

I should run an aside here and explain that Rob didn’t tell me about the house and its “inhabitants” until quite a while after Katy and I moved in. Still, the first time we visited before moving up here, I had a feeling the house was haunted. I was a bit curious about the possibility because Rob’s late wife died here in the room down the hall which is now our joint office. I knew from my own experiences after Will died, and from a few Rob had told me about concerning Shelley, that spouses tend to hang out a bit for a while following their passing. Partly concern and maybe a little bit habit, it’s my feeling that they need to hang onto us as they adjust just as we need to hang onto them. That first weekend visit, I saw a figure standing in the corner of our bedroom when I awoke for no reason in the middle of the night and I had the distinct feeling that I was being watched the few times I went into the basement.

After we moved in the basement feelings persisted until I felt almost as I did when I was a young child being sent down to the freezer to retrieve some thing or other for my mother to prepare for dinner. I also saw the figure in our room again. Once right next to the side of the bed by Rob as he slept. The incidents came to a head in the middle of the night when Katy awoke, came to get me and when I took her back to her room she insisted that someone was standing on the other side of the room. This was not long after the “honey” incidents. Katy would come into the room wherever I was and ask me what I wanted. Of course, I hadn’t called for her but she would tell me that someone was calling “Honey” to her. The figure in her room was the last straw. Some otherworldly person could mess with me all they liked but had better leave my child alone. My late husband got quite the talking to by me in that instant and reminded that he had a child to look after and what was he going to do about this? Katy hasn’t had a ghostly experience since.

After that, Rob came clean about the house. The incidents dated back to when he, Shelley and the girls first moved in. Apparently the house had been moved from a spot in the city on the old prison grounds. Jordan, Rob’s younger daughter, was also a victim of the “honey” calls though the spirit actually called her by name. She also had told Farron that there were other creepy incidents in the basement. Mostly a feeling of being watched. My downstairs surveillance ended one day when I finally got angry and told whoever it was to just knock it off already. It wasn’t my last incident though. That was the one Rob wanted me to tell Farron about. I was sitting in the office, working on a blog piece about last wishes. It was right after our trip up to Beaverlodge for Uncle Raymond’s – Shelley’s uncle – memorial. Rob had decided to bring Shelley’s ashes along and place some under the tree in Raymond’s yard where the two of them had gotten married. It got me thinking about my last wishes and where I wanted to end up, but as I was finishing up I got stuck. I couldn’t figure out how to end the piece and toyed with the idea of writing a bit longer piece than I had originally intended when suddenly, someone shoved my chair from behind and I hit the desk. I took that as I sign that I was done and quickly wrote a few sentences and published. I should note here that my chair is a typical desk chair with wheels but I have a habit of sitting on one leg and letting the other dangle or rest on the tripod legs. I wasn’t moving or rocking. My feet weren’t even touching the floor and as far as I know, there aren’t any earthquakes in Alberta.

Rob’s experiences go back to before Shelley’s illness even. He would hear a tinny radio playing 1940’s type music. After Shelley died, he would hear voices as he was dropping off to sleep at night. Lots of voices. Like at a party. One night, he heard someone loudly call his full name. He has had experiences with Shelley too, as I have had with Will, but some of the things that have happened can’t be attributed to our late spouses.

Katy’s room is the one Farron used to sleep in. Farron related a tale of the attic door being open every night despite her repeated closings and of scratching sounds in the ceiling which she thought were rodents but Rob assured her wasn’t possible as he has never seen any of the telltale rodent signs in the attic space.

I personally believe there is a next and probably even an after the next place that we all travel to after our time here is done for the moment. I think that we probably spend eternity looping these places and existing in different forms but with essentially the same group of fellow travelers or “souls”. My knowledge of quantum physics is pretty limited, though it fascinates me, and I can’t explain in any concrete way they reason that some of us are able to “break” through the barriers between existences and some of us can’t, or maybe chose not to. What came first or what comes next is nothing to be afraid of anymore than you should fear getting older or any of the transitions that come along in this life. Change is just change to greater or lesser degrees. And, of course, it is inevitable.