If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you won’t be surprised to learn I believe in ghosts, spirits, guides, angels, and signs from the other side. With Halloween approaching, I thought it time to share a rather odd and entirely true series of events that occurred in April and May of this year.
When I was young, my aunt and uncle lived in a beautiful farmhouse down the road from us. I was somewhere around five or six, but I remember that house well. I loved that house. I distinctly remember the staircase in the back that led into the master bedroom. I thought that was the neatest thing, to have more than one staircase in your house.
I spent a fair amount of time there, playing with my younger cousin Brittney. She told stories about the figures that would appear in her bedroom at night. I didn’t quite believe her, and my parents assured me there was no such thing as ghosts, but Brittney insisted they existed.
One evening, she and I were playing with dolls in her bedroom. I looked out into the hallway and saw two men painting the walls. I vividly remember the scene. One, thinner, stooped down to paint along the trim, the other, a bit plumper, stood up with a paint roller against the wall, looking down to talk to the other. They both wore “old-timey” painters’ outfits – bib overalls, a cap, had paintbrushes stuffed into pockets. They were shades of white in appearance though, and semi-solid. They had appeared out of thin air.
Brittney, however, excitedly asked: “You see them too?!”
I ran downstairs and from then on, refused to go inside that house after dark. I would sit in the car, by myself, even in the cold, and refuse to go inside. That house was haunted and I was having none of it. They didn’t live there long, if memory serves me well. I’m not sure Brittney remembers it, but I absolutely sure do.
There have been several other occurrences over the years, but none as startling as that one. Until recently, at least.
We held my mom’s memorial service on a Wednesday. I drove back to Chapel Hill the next day, a Thursday. All was well, given the circumstances, and it was a relief to sleep in my own bed and resume some sense of normalcy.
Friday night, I went to bed perhaps a bit later than usual, but followed my usual routine of reading my Bible and setting the Sleep Cycle alarm on my phone. For the app to work properly, you place your phone face down on your nightstand.
Just as I was good and asleep, a crash woke me up. Knox, my dog, was standing up in bed, letting out his low, not as ferocious as his 7lb being thinks, growl. I turned on the lamp and saw my phone on the floor, still attached to its charger. It was 1:30AM, on the nose. I figured I had knocked it off in my sleep, put it back on my nightstand, and drifted off again.
More growling from Knox.
I turned the light back on and again, my phone was on the floor.
It was exactly 1:45AM.
I was fairly certain it wasn’t me that knocked it off this time, but reasoned that Knox often hops out of bed to get water in the middle of the night. It seemed unlikely that he’d gotten tangled in the charger on his way back to bed – his steps are at the end of the bed (I’m that dog mom) – but it could have happened, I supposed. I put it back in place, turned the light off, and this time, lay there staring at the ceiling.
Knox isn’t the dog you want on your team in the apocalypse, but the little guy tries his hardest to guard his human when he feels the situation calls for it. He sat on top of me, that low growl of his issuing nearly non-stop. Given that he normally curls up thisclose to me and goes to sleep once the lights are off, not to mention my own unease, I knew something was up.
The room just felt different. I can’t explain it, really, but I could feel it. I had that “hair standing on its ends” feeling and the air felt heavy. My gut – and my dog – told me there was something there that I couldn’t see.
At exactly 2:00AM, I watched the phone fly off my nightstand as though someone had come along and smacked it off. Knox erupted into a fit of barking, leapt off the bed, and started running around the room in a fit of frantic rage.
Panicked and scared, I yelled out “Mom! Stop it!,” grabbed the phone, and tucked it under my pillow. I laid there with the light on for a while, focused on calming down , and spent a long while praying for protection from whatever was in my room, mother or not. I finally fell into a fitful sleep.
The next morning, everything seemed – okay. It always does in the morning light. I got out of bed, Knox with me, and went into the living room. The lantern and candle we used at my mom’s service sits next to my fireplace. That morning, the lantern door was open. I didn’t think much of it. It’s got a rickety sort of latch, and I assumed it must have come undone in the middle of the night. I closed it up and went about my day.
That night – Saturday – I went to bed a little on edge, but hopeful the night before was a one-time occurrence. I was reading my Bible – and Knox was under the bed, something that should have stuck out as he’s only under the bed when scared, sick, or, the usual cause, up to no good – when I once again watched my phone fly off my nightstand.
Convinced it was my mom, I said “Can you either be more clear about what you want or leave me alone?” and went back to my Bible, the phone once more tucked under the pillow.
Before I left to go back to Chapel Hill, my stepdad gave me Mama’s copy of Jesus Calling. She had read it the day she died as the day’s devotional is marked. As I was reading, the small devotional, like my phone, flew off the nightstand. I reached for it with shaking hands, hoping it had opened to a passage that might give me an idea as to what was going on, but it had landed closed. Meanwhile, Knox was back to his growling and pacing.
I fell asleep that night with more prayers of protection.
The next morning, the lantern was open again.
I burned some sage the next evening, tucked the phone under my pillow that night, and fell asleep without incident, convinced the sage had worked.
And so began days of my phone flying off my desk at work or the coffee table while I was on the couch watching Netflix or even the bench in the gym. It happened so frequently in the office that my co-workers noticed and I confessed that I thought my mom was trying to tell me something. My siblings and stepdad weren’t having experiences, but I certainly was.
Every night, I tucked the phone under my pillow and prayed a prayer of protection. I paid special attention on the nights Knox would pace the bedroom after the lights were out, but I was finally sleeping somewhat peacefully, once I actually managed to fall asleep, as the phone was no longer sailing off my nightstand, at least.
A couple of weeks into this, I woke up one night to a stinging pain in my left forearm. It felt like I had been pinched, hard. Knox was absolutely raging, barking wildly and racing around my bedroom. I sat up and reached for the light. Once my eyes adjusted to the brightness, I saw a big red whelp on my forearm.
I don’t know that I ever went back to sleep.
The next morning, I told a couple of coworkers about what happened and one of them voiced what I was beginning to believe:
“I don’t think it’s your mom.”
That night, I did a deep saging of my house. I left no door or drawer unopened. I saged myself, Knox, spent extra time going through my bedroom. I prayed over my space, filled it with positive, loving words, demanded anything evil leave my presence. I clapped in the corners to remove any negative energy lingering around. If I’d had a bell at my disposal, I would have rang it throughout the house.
If you’ve ever saged your home, you’ll likely know what I mean when I say the space feels different afterward. Lighter. You can feel the burden of the negativity removed. I fell asleep that night feeling lighter, the faint smell of sage still in the air.
I believe when we are at our most vulnerable – in sleep, in grief, in loneliness – we are more open to the other side. We can receive guidance, be contacted by loved ones. But more sinister contact can come through, too.
There haven’t been any additional odd experiences since then, save for Knox occasionally sniffing and barking at the lantern for no known reason. I don’t know what caused my experience, but I don’t believe it was my mom. She wouldn’t have pinched me, kept me up at night.
Whatever it is, I’m glad the sage cleared it away.
But I think I’ll go burn some, now.
Just in case.