Monday, September 14, 2015

Can Death Make Love Scary?

My father passed away back in the '80's. I was already married and the mother of two children when this happened, so I was blessed to have had both of my parents well into my adult life. There were a lot of relatives and close family friends who were in and out of the house, so my mother, although dealing with a dreadful loss, was not without companionship, and we all enjoyed the visiting.

One of my aunts, and I use that term in the traditional Filipino way, knowing that we weren't necessarily related (or maybe distantly) but were as close as family, was a crazy-funny lady who also happened to be completely superstitious. She confided into another one of my aunts that she was afraid to go upstairs or anywhere in the house alone for fear of running into my father's ghost.

Huh. It was the first time I'd ever heard an adult express something that sounded like a childhood fear, but she was perfectly serious. And the thought moved into my head and stayed there.

Life being what it is, I have had more losses since my father passed: relatives, friends, acquaintances, friends of friends. And with every one of them, I have wondered about running into that deceased person's spirit, whether walking down the hall or waiting for me in the living room. Most of the time, the thought is actually kind of comforting, as I guess it would be. What wouldn't we give, sometimes, to run into someone we love very much just one more time? 

On the other hand, there is always the unsettling aspect of meeting up with someone that I know is not supposed to be there. I remind myself that most of the people I fear running into the most - those that I don't know very well- would have little reason to drop in on me, any more than they would have when they were alive. They would be the folks that I knew but only saw on certain occasions, or only because they knew me through a mutual friend.

Still, every time I lose another person to the other side, I do wonder about seeing them again. I guess, given my job, that's not surprising.

The ones who have crossed over and have come back to visit have been very kind and come to me in dreams. Maybe that's why so many of my characters have that experience. Those are the dreams that I don't consider to be dreams: I consider them to be actual visits. Especially in view of the nature of some of those dreams, and specifically when they occurred. Some of them were fond last visits, others were more like someone checking in. I cherish all of them.

Because of the nature of my job, I probably have an obsession with death that borders on the morbid. Or maybe it's because of the nature of my job and the thread of sadness/depression that seems to go hand in hand with being a writer. Whatever the cause, someone I know recently went from this side of life's equation to the other, and so I found myself wondering, yet again, what it would be like to run into that person now. Still, we were never close so why would I even rate a visit? And that's the way it should be. There are so many others who would need that appearance; it would be wasted on me, a mere acquaintance.

And then I find myself wondering -when it's my turn to cross over, will I come back to visit? And if I do, will I frighten the person I've come back to see? Although I can think of a few people I'd love to scare the bejesus out of, for the most part I'd rather do the gentle visit thing. I wouldn't want my death to make my love into something scary.


  1. I think a dream is the kindest way to visit. If I outlive you, please only come to me in dreams. In my mind all ghost encounters are scary, but maybe that's because I've never had one

  2. Oh, I'd only do dreams. Although a friend of mine from high school years and I once promised to haunt the bleeding crap out of each other, depending on who goes first!