Ghost Story

Ghost Story

Perception is a strange phenomenon. Seeing is not really believing, and while the truth may be out there, there’s no guarantee it’s standing up and waving its metaphorical arms to be noticed. I don’t believe in ghosts, but…

I was about 8 or 9 at the time, lying in my bed that was up against one corner of my bedroom, the long left side against an outside wall. Beyond the foot of my bed in the same wall was the window, a large 6′ x 4′ single pane. Closed. I was waking up although it was still dark — I don’t recall what time of year it was.

All was still and quiet, no sounds from the rest of the single-story house. Not from my brother’s room next to mine, nor from my parents across the hallway. It was as if I was alone in the world.

But then I became aware that I was not alone. There was somebody else in the room with me. Standing next to my bed, looking over and down on me was a figure. Standing to my left, where the wall should have been. A young woman with dark hair, wearing a simple long white dress.

I guess I ought to have been scared by her impossible nature but she was a comforting presence, radiating calm and peace. She never moved or spoke, and I could not describe her face to you at all, but she had a beauty and elegance to rival any fairytale princess.

I hadn’t noticed her arrival, nor did I notice when she vanished never to be seen again. I’ve never forgotten her. I wonder sometimes who she was. Was she some figment of my imagination? Was she perhaps an angel watching over me? Or was I seeing my future self, the person I am inside?

I don’t know, will never know the “truth” of this experience. It was mine alone, and I must make of it what I will. But I still don’t believe in ghosts.

8 thoughts on “Ghost Story

  1. Hi Alex,
    I have to say I was relieved to hear that your experience was peaceful and calming! 🙂
    I found an explanation for myself some 20+ years ago.
    After my mom died, my dad saw her at the foot of his bed one very early, but still dark, morning. I did not doubt his vision, but I don’t believe in ghosts either. I believe in the brain.
    I once had the horrific experience of being wide awake, but totally paralysed. My dad then, was having the opposite experience; his body was awake but he was still dreaming. I can no longer even remember if I read up about my experience, or my dad’s or both, but I do remember being grateful to be living in an age when research can be done on the brain of a live human being.
    I apologise for the detailed scientific explanation, but my brain is sorely lacking in something that makes retaining/accessing words virtually impossible! 🙂

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    1. Hi Anne. Thank you for the detail: it’s a fascinating subject. I’ve heard of sleep paralysis and it does sound terrifying. Your dad’s experience on the other hand sounds similar to mine in that it occurred on waking. Another curious sleep-related behavior is sleep walking, something that affects my wife occasionally. She might sit up and speak, or get out of bed and walk around (she once went into a neighbor’s garden and dug up a plant which I found in the bathroom the next morning!) but is not conscious of her actions, and is not responsive if I speak to her.

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      1. OMG, that IS funny, funny now, but if your neighbour was not the understanding type… well, I hate to think!
        Sleep walking is surely the worst, in that one can wander off, who knows where. My nephew once got up and was about to hurl himself out of a second floor window – thank goodness his sister woke up too, and intervened!
        I was in the game park with a friend when I was still in junior school; said friend also sleep-walked. I remember being terrified that she would walk out into the jaws of the hyaenas laughing out there in the dark. We were of course fenced in, but that did not occur to me then.
        You know one can now go into unfenced game parks; I would not recommend that for a sleep-walker. At least when one is paralysed, there’d be no going anywhere!
        Fascinating subject indeed!

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  2. Yours sounds rather pleasant as far as “Ghost” encounters go. I wonder, is there a reason why it feels so memorable? Or it is just that it was an odd circumstance?
    Also, do you think you could paint her if you had the time/patience? 🙂

    I always find the things that our brains comes up with when it isn’t quite gathering information correctly, utterly fascinating, source-monitoring errors they’re called. (I dunno if you’ve heard the term, but if not the phenomena is fascinating to read about, and the individual accounts even more so as there’s lots of variation in experiences, brains are quite creative.)
    Source monitoring errors happen most often when we think we’re awake but our brain has actually started to dream, usually at the beginning or end of sleep.
    (Or if we nod off in a micro-sleep sort of way- which is more common when someone is sleep deprived.)

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    1. I think this experience was so memorable because of its rarity. I’ve only had two or three similar experiences in my life but this was the first. Unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to paint or sketch her: my artistic ability is poor. 😦

      Sensory perception, conscious and unconscious states of the brain are a huge and fascinating subject. Vision alone could occupy years of informal study: the way that the brain fills in the gaps in what our eyes perceive, and is so easily led astray. I love optical illusions. 🙂

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  3. She may have been a hypnopompic hallucination. Or, you know, a ghost. 🙂 It’s actually very common for hypnopompic hallucinations to be visual only.

    I’m glad it was a peaceful experience and that you’ve found some potential poetic/symbolic meaning in it. What a lovely vivid memory.

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    1. Thank you Cynthia 🙂 I love the fact that I can ascribe my own personal meaning to this, the way it has become a comforting memory. Almost certainly a hypnopompic hallucination in truth, but meaning is a much more subjective experience that allows me to fulfill my spiritual needs.

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  4. The day after my grandmother passed away, I saw a flash of light in the room she used to sleep in. I went to the room but there was no way for the light to have done what it did. I like to think grandma took a picture for the road, but I still don’t know what to make of ghosts.

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