I’ve been a bit stressed out lately, between work, family and, now, school (hence the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks). As as result of being stressed, I’ve been more tired than usual and have been sleeping a bit more. ┬áThe exact reason is a mystery to me, but it seems that my natural defenses are a bit down and I’ve been feeling more introspective lately.

So, when the news came recently that my grandma has melanoma in her lungs; and when a friend texted me to say that her grandmother has breast cancer and has to have surgery; and when another friend told me her family experienced a devastating loss earlier this week, I felt completely helpless and useless. My heart hurts; I can do nothing but offer to talk if they want or need to talk.

I am the queen of the corny joke, but only because so many other words of support I can offer seem painfully inadequate and banal. I don’t want to do any more damage. I wish I could trade places with those who are suffering to take away the pain.. My natural tendency is to want to shut down in the face of devastating news, but there is always something requiring urgent attention that seems to prevent that.

I did a quick search on how to talk to those who are grieving, and found this gem: “To experience grief is the result of having loved.” Sure doesn’t seem to make it any easier.


Spirits in the Material World

Life and death has been on my mind lately and I’m not sure exactly why.

It could be because a friend told me on Monday night that she believes her house is, or was, haunted.

It could be because the following night I stumbled on another sort of a ghost story that I must have read before but didn’t recall.

Or it could have to do with another friend taking a poll on Facebook about the subject of spirits and ghosts yesterday.

For whatever reason, my interest in the afterlife has been rekindled this week and, because I’m me, whenever something really interests me, I have to absorb as much as I possibly can about it. So this week I read blogs and articles, watched the show Medium on Hulu (I am ready for the new season to begin), and contemplated my own feelings about the subject while I got ready for work in the morning or during my drive into town.

To say that I believe there is something about this life that we can never fully comprehend is anathema to many in my circle. My husband, who is a science teacher, is adamant that belief in anything supernatural is naive. I say that, when I dreamt his mom (who died in 1991 and whom I never met) told me she was always watching over our son, I felt comforted and more secure. That I believe in anything that cannot be directly experienced by any of my five senses defies my occasionally left-brained and logical nature – I work in Information Technology – but is completely in harmony with the rest of me, which is unabashedly right-brained, imaginative and instinctual.

Earlier this week, Google and the band Arcade Fire debuted The Wilderness Downtown, an interactive online short film showcasing the capabilities of HTML 5 and CSS3 when viewed in the Chrome browser. The experience begins by asking you, the viewer, to enter the street address of the house you grew up in.

We moved around a bit when I was a kid, so I chose the address of a house I lived in from ages 6 to 14; a house in which I frequently heard strange noises (and one time saw something I’ll never forget) and in which I never felt comfortable being alone. As the Google Maps street view of my old house appeared on the screen, I shuddered. The house has the same paint job it did when we moved out 22 years ago. The front yard is still wretchedly landscaped (it looks overgrown, even when manicured), and I could hardly bear to look at the second story window.

I’ve driven by that old house a couple of times, to show my son, and I wonder about the people living there now. There are rarely ever any signs of life on the street – it’s a virtual ghost town in the midst of the suburbs.

Earlier tonight, when I got to my parents’ house to pick up my son, my mom greeted me at the door, talking to herself. “Yeah, she’s home now, and she’s doing OK,” she said as she smiled at nothing in particular. It took a second for me to realize her hair was covering her bluetooth, and not much longer to realize she was on the phone with my uncle. My grandma, who is 88, found new spots of melanoma on her leg a few weeks ago (this is round 4) and had a lung biopsy today, after medical staff found what is probably scar tissue from her bout with breast cancer although one can never be certain. She’s understandably stressed out, as is the rest of the family.

I really hope the two things aren’t in any way connected and that I am correct in feeling that she will be OK, again, this time. Then again, it could be that it’s not her I need to worry about. I can’t bear the thought of losing anyone in my life. Perhaps that’s part of why I’ve latched onto the idea that a person is never really “gone”.

Tonight I’ll say a prayer for her and tomorrow make a mental note to give her a call. I know she’ll be happy to hear from me even if I can only understand about a fifth of what she says due to her accent. She’s very spiritual, and if I knew we could have a good, long conversation about my thoughts on the topic, I would.

I talked to my mom about things tonight instead. She gave me a “look” when I told her I was coincidentally running into all these things… a look like “Oh God, don’t say that”. I wonder whether she and I had the same thought?

So, what are your beliefs? Do you have any “evidence” – or have you had any experiences – to back them up, one way or another?