When I believed in ghosts I would think of the deceased as being above me, looking down upon us all. I would think I could speak to them and they’d hear me and I find it a little sad that I can no longer talk to the room and sincerely believe that they’ll know what I’m saying since they no longer exist except within memories. It’s why I find it difficult to stand at a grave and talk to the deceased as though their slowly vanishing remains beneath the ground will know what I am saying. I used to genuinely believe that at times I was sitting opposite a ghost and they were communicating with me through the movement of a glass upon a table. I spoke to people who haven’t breathed in decades as though they were right there under a cloak of invisibility.
As anyone who visits my blog regularly knows, there is a time when all of that changed and I came to realise that there isn’t an afterlife, there is just this life. This is all we have – this wonder and randomness that we try to make sense of. This unpredictable adventure in time that seems so long to us but is, in reality, hardly any time at all in the scale of things. I take joy from knowing that my existence is as meaningless as it is. I look up at the stars, I look at world around me and I think it’s all rather magnificent.
Then suddenly someone I care for dies and I wish, just for a moment, that I could be the teenager who talks to ghosts again just so that I could fool myself into believing that there’s more. That we’ll all get to meet up again someday, that those who no longer breathe are still watching us.
There are often times when I catch myself thinking ‘it would be so easy to convince myself that the odd noise we just heard has no rational cause’ when I know deep down that it’s quite easily explainable. It’s exactly what I used to do when I believed in ghosts and the afterlife I thought they existed in – I convinced myself that those odd noises were ghosts and I pushed the other possibilities to the back of my mind because it was easier to hide underneath the comfort that ghosts offered.
This week I lost a friend and colleague and a void has been created that will never ever be filled. It all seems so unfair, yet my rational mind insists that I remember them for who they were and the great things about them. I want to celebrate their life and be grateful that I got to meet them and become friends with them, and I am grateful and I will celebrate and I will remember. There may be a void created in their passing, but I know that void doesn’t have to radiate sadness and I know that in time it won’t do so.
Yet it bugs me that there’s a tiny, tiny part of me that thinks ‘I wonder if they’re actually still there, just where we cannot see them‘ and I know that in future months, years, decades… when I wander through the building we worked in together, locking up the doors for the night on my own, when I hear a distant sound I’ll momentarily wonder if it was them.
I’ll know it wasn’t, I’ll know it’s impossible… yet a part of me, no matter how rational I try to be will always hope. I don’t think this is a weakness, in fact I know it isn’t. It’s why I don’t judge those who believe ghosts exist. It would be cruel to judge someone for being hopeful.
Irrational hope exists within us all, even if we try to pretend it doesn’t. How pathetically, wonderfully human of us.