I’ve always believed in things I can’t see. I’ve rationalized pretty much every mystery and superstition I know of, and I go through my days happily satisfied with secretly knowing the meaning of life.
Of course, this is all in theory. It’s easy to be sane and rational when everything around you is sane and rational. But when the insane unknown happens, well, don’t be surprised if you crap in your pants a little.
Case in point:
New Year’s Eve, many years ago, my first baby was six months old. The Husband, the Baby and I headed over to the Matron of Honour/Best Man’s house for a quiet evening of celebration. As luck would have it, there was a Mr. Bean marathon on, and given our love of laughter, we camped out in the basement for the night. At one point, the Matron and I took the Baby upstairs. I changed him and set him to sleep in the living room while she put on the kettle. We chatted for a few minutes, got out the dessert and poured the tea. Our conversation lulled a moment, and we both heard the Baby babbling away in the next room. When we peeked in on him, he was yammering on happily, on his back, feet up in the air, giggling and drooling all over himself. Happy baby that he was, I knew he wasn’t going to make a fuss, even if he didn’t sleep. But I didn’t have the heart to leave him by himself on New Year’s Eve, so we took him and dessert back downstairs.
We enjoyed the company and the television, myself, Baby in my lap, and the Man on one couch in front of the tv, the Husband and the Matron on the other couch to the side. The Baby was squirming a little before I finally took note and moved to help him get more comfortable. He didn’t want to get comfortable; he wanted to sit up. He was wide awake and laughing. Taking the soother out of his mouth, he reached out with it and pulled it back, laughing loudly. After a few rounds of this, he had my full attention. His gaze was aimed at the dark corner of the room, well away from people and television, but his eyes were slightly crossed as if looking at something right in front of him. It was then that I noticed my arm, now tightening around his middle, was cold, and the hairs were all standing up as if electrified. The Man startled me suddenly with a quiet, “Are you seeing this?”
I looked at him, he looked at me, and we both stared at the Baby. I glanced over at the Matron, and she was gaping as well. (The Husband was thoroughly enthralled by Mr. Bean with a turkey on his head, would not accept the idea of an invisible force if it over took his body…) The three of us watched as the Baby happily played with an invisible friend. For more than twenty minutes. Handing his soother over, pulling it back. Ducking his chin against an invisible tickle. Wrapping his pudgy little baby fingers around and non-existent finger.
Finally, his gaze deepened, and he reached out as if for a departing friend. One last giggle and he settled right back into me and drifted quickly and softly off to sleep.
My arm was warm and wrapped closely around him. And I knew that, whatever that was, was now over.
“It’s the ghost,” the Matron announced quietly.
“Yeah,” agreed the Man.
And suddenly I knew it to be true. The Matron and the Man had a ghost. The ghost had introduced itself when they’d first moved into the house three years before. Every Saturday, at 5:00 and 5:10, their smoke alarms would beep. One upstairs, then ten minutes later, the one downstairs. Every Saturday. At 6:00 and 6:10 during Daylight Savings. Both alarms were battery operated. No timers. No wiring.
Eventually, the Matron had reported that she would hear the rocking chair upstairs. Or footsteps.
Some research on the property revealed nothing of note, except for the fact that all records of the house only went back to the mid-fifties when they were destroyed by a fire in the records room at City Hall.
The couple had decided early on that this was a friendly ghost. More intent on protecting them than anything. They would ask it to watch the house while they were out. I found myself speaking to it regularly on those occasions that I took in their mail while they were away. And while I was never as sure about the ghost’s presence as they were, I didn’t feel silly going along with it. The house never actually feels empty.
But now the ghost had been playing with my baby!
I was clearly not too sure about this.
But there he was. Sleeping peacefully in my arms. Having very obviously been playing with something. And having had a great fun time of it, too.
Who’s to say what’s out there? I know what I saw and felt. And thankfully I had a pair of very reliable witnesses. We all remember it now as clearly as it happened that night eighteen years ago.
Except for the Husband, who, of course, still thinks we’re all nuts.
And yet, although those smoke alarms have been replaced and re-battery-ed over the years, they still beep every Saturday, at 5:00 and 5:10.
You tell me.