We went to Gettysburg on a Wednesday and drove home from Pennsylvania on Saturday. All day Thursday and Friday, the uneasy sensation in our hotel suite came and went. I spent my time thinking, he's here. No, he isn't. Yes, he is. No he's not. Back and forth as the feeling of being followed around came and went. When Saturday morning finally arrived, I let him know that I was leaving, that he was not to follow me any longer, and that he needed to go back to the battlefield.
But did he listen? HA! I have written ghostly characters in my books that are stubborn and persistent, and I was far from thrilled to find out that they can be like that in real life. I didn't see him again, but I could still feel him around, even back in our own house, a handful of states away from Gettysburg.
Now, I was in the middle of writing Touching Shadow, Stealing Light, book 5 in my series, and having an extra paranormal guest around was distracting, among other things. One day, in desperation, I asked my older daughter if she had seen a Civil War soldier hanging around the house. She said no, she hadn't seen one. That made me feel better, since she has Michael Penfield's ability to see the dead. And some time after that, the sensation of having him lurking about began to abate. I figured he finally left for familiar territory.
But out of curiosity, a month or two later, I asked my daughter point-blank about seeing my soldier. And then she confessed that while she had never seen him, she had certainly felt him around. "Yeah, one time he was in the hall while I was watching TV." My reaction was not what I would call entirely calm. She went on to describe him (rather like Cassie could describe a ghost for Michael that she had never seen - see Haunted, book one of The Bridgeton Park Cemetery Series) for me. "He was a Union soldier, right? And he was wearing a coat. His hair was a little on the long side, but I couldn't see his face because he was wearing a hat." After some discussion about what that hat looked like, I pulled out a picture of General George Custer wearing the slouch hat favored by so many during that war, and she said, "That's it!" She had described my soldier exactly as I had seen him. Then she said, "I knew he was around. He followed me to my friend's house one time." And I said, "What the WHAT?"
She told me her sense of him was that he was just curious about us. I told her my sense of him was that his name was Henry, I had no idea why, and I wondered if he was from Illinois himself. I found myself searching for pictures of ghosts at Gettysburg, and ran across the one that's featured on my Facebook page today. If you've seen the picture, you have a great idea of what my guy looked like, and finding that picture gave me goosebumps. Particularly since Jim and I had spent so much time in that museum. Is that where my ghost and I accidentally forged some kind of freaky connection?
Anyone who has read my blog posts long enough, or who actually knows me, is aware that I was the only one in my immediate family who had never seen a ghost. Ironic, considering I grew up in a haunted house, and spend my time writing ghost stories, but there it is. And I was good with that, really. And then last summer happened, and a trip to a national battlefield changed my life.
After that whole incident, I figured I was good. I had seen my first ghost. I had survived. And I never needed to see one again.
But I guess someone else thought differently - and that's another story...