I never knew whether I really believed in ghosts until I became one.
I had, when I was quite a bit younger, just under the age of consent, stayed with my dear Aunt Addie in Brantford. She didn't know it but I was planning to elope with a young man who was quite serious and quite honourable but being African American he was not looked on favourably by my folks. We thought all would be well but I foolishly left a note explaining my intentions before I took off. I was captured and put in a local hoosegow jail cell until my dad came to pick me up. I was in disgrace and the elopement didn't work out at all. It was a very agitated and emotional time for me.
Ten to fifteen years later when I was older, if not wiser, I was staying with my Aunt again, although she never quite forgave me for pulling such a dirty trick on her. I was staying in the same room I had been in on the night of the failed elopement of many years ago. Well, I couldn't sleep or rest. I felt agitation. I sensed, I never saw, but I sensed, the presence of a young girl who was very agitated and full of excitement and full of anxiety. She was very much there. I wasn't just reliving something that had happened. She was there. That room was haunted and the ghost was 'me'. My earlier self.
Time moves on. My brother was in Chatham. My mother had just moved into an apartment and he was finishing things up at the house where she wasn't going to be living any more. He was just checking to see if anything had been forgotten and he spent the night there. He didn't get very much sleep because he was tormented by the vision, and I guess he actually saw it, of a little red-haired girl who would not let him sleep. She was agitated. She was upset. She was moving around. She wouldn't let him sleep.
I had red hair when I was a little girl. I must have left some trace there. I'm wondering now how many other places I may be haunting that I'm not aware of. It's as if a place where something has happened is like a photographic negative that takes an impression of highly emotional events or circumstances. That's my guess.
My third ghost story isn't about my ghost. It's about the ghost of a church member. I was active and ran the Sunday School at St. Stephen in the Fields in Toronto for a time. A long time church member had passed on just before I joined the congregation and I was aware that she had been very dedicated to the church. I knew her husband quite well. He was a Sidesman, along with my husband.
I played guitar at the folk mass, which was held before the regular service at this Anglican church. They tried to get me to sing modern made up white hymns but I claimed I didn't know how and mostly played Southern gospel hymns, black and white, which I coerced them into learning. Our little folk mass was quite simple and in colloquial English.
At a certain point in the Mass you do Prayers for the Living and then you do Prayers for the Dead. While we were having the Service there was quite a commotion in the church. Doors were opening and closing with loud bangs. Winds were blowing. There were rattling noises. Things fell down. It was the usual ghostly agitation.
Somehow or other I knew - sometimes you just know things - that this was the lady who had passed on who had been so dedicated to the church. I started, because she was so active with banging and wind blowing etc., to put her in the prayers for the living. Then I stopped myself, I waited and then, under my breath, I put her name - quietly spoken - no one else heard me - in the prayers for the dead.
I felt and I still feel at this time, thinking of it, this tremendous warmth. Someone came up behind me and put their arms around me and gave me such a warm and loving hug. Of course there was no-one visible there, but all the noises stopped and everything was quiet and peaceful from then on. I realized, then, that sometimes ghosts don't know that they are dead. I had, almost accidentally, done this lady a great favour by telling her that she was indeed amongst the departed and that she could now move on in peace. She was no longer needed at the church. Her duties were over.
These events are very subjective and personal but they are also very real.
© Sonia Brock 2005