World's Oldest Fledgling

The blog of Stephanie Wardrop, Y A Author


on October 29, 2013

This one goes out to my new Twitter followers – I said when I hit 400 (a paltry number to some, I know) I would play Truth or Dare or True Confessions, so here we go 

My real-life encounters with ghosts!


I am more than willing to admit that this first one is probably the psychological manifestation of late adolescent grief, but it was powerful and surreal enough to me to remain a vivid memory many years later.  (I can already see my husband smirking skeptically when he reads this, but a promise to Twitter followers is a sacred vow, right? I have to reveal something big and potentially embarrassing.)

When I was sophomore in college, one of my best friends died very suddenly. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this event affected how I looked at the world ever after. Besides the fact that I loved her and felt closer to her than I did to most people, her death forced me to acknowledge something that most young people know on some level but don’t quite believe in their hearts: Even if you’re not old, you can die.  Just like that. The ground is always a little shakier after that realization for any young person; any step feels like it could set off a min i earthquake with infinite shock waves spreading everywhere. Months after her death,  I was in a psychic tailspin at the time and something pretty bad was about to happen to me.  In the midst of this, she came to me twice, when I was half-asleep, half-awake. (Yeah, I know.  The fact that I may or may not have been asleep proves that it’s just a dream and not a ghost and I probably agree with you. However, I will add that there is a school of paranormal thought  – and  ancient wisdom – that argues that ghosts come to us in our sleep to tell us what we need to know.  They catch us when we are least likely to miss or dismiss the message).

In the first encounter, which was truly a dream, I was walking with my then-boyfriend through the common area in the dorm and she was sitting there, , reading a book. I was surprised to see her, naturally, and she looked up and said, “Be. Careful.” And then I woke up, shaken, because, trust me, my friend was not one to shy from danger. Rather than warn me about it, she would have grabbed my hand and jumped headlong into it with me.

I met her again a few weeks later, when I was lying on my bed reading Faulkner.  (I swear I did not fall asleep, but I’ll readily acknowledge that I was a typically overtired student and, much as I love Faulkner, I found Absalom! Absalom! hard going.)  I felt a hand on my bare knee (our dorms were overheated so I wore shorts in the dead of a Pittsburgh winter) and looked up from my book to see her sitting there for about half a second, long enough for me to recognize her and hear her tell me, “It’s going to be okay.” And then she was gone.  Maybe it never happened. Maybe I “saw” her because I needed to see her again. But looking back, I think her words helped.  At the time they may have given me the hope that I didn’t see anywhere else.

The next supernatural encounter came years later,when  I was wide awake — and at work. My workplace at the time happened to be a haunted restaurant, a former estate that had been turned into a place of fine dining and had ghost hunters coming on a somewhat regular basis, though this was long before there were thirty television shows devoted to paranormal exploration.  The people who owned the place and who had worked there for years were pretty unforthcoming about it. They weren’t running around telling everyone about what they’d seen but if you asked, they would calmly and matter-of-factly describe it and leave it to you to believe it or not.  They knew what they had seen.

In my first weeks there, I didn’t think much about the ghost stories at all.  I went about my business, though I found it odd that a few times, as I was in the little waiters’ nook  on the second floor grabbing something out of the little refrigerator, I often turned my back to have the refrigerator slam shut behind me.  This was an old refrigerator, with one of those pull handles, and it was not easy to open or shut. I usually had to put my whole weight into it to do so.


And then one evening, I was at the bottom of the grand staircase, ready to carry a tray upstairs, and on the landing, for about two seconds, materialized a small woman with her hair pulled back in a bun and a long skirt, the very portrait of a Victorian lady. We looked at each other, and I may have taken a step forward, because I was not scared at all; strangely, I was too fascinated, electrified, somehow, to be at all freaked out. But she was gone. I stood there for a few seconds, then went upstairs and delivered the food to my table, and when I came back down I must have looked stunned or shaken because one of the waiters, whose family owned the place, just smiled at me and said, “You saw one, didn’t you?”  I told him what I saw, heart pounding and expecting him to think I was out of my mind, but he just said that the older lady often comes out when there were kids among our dining guests because she likes to see them.

I’ve replayed that moment, brief as it was, many times in my head since then, but I haven’t told many people about it. If I describe her as I saw her, as kind of shadow-y, like the white outline of a person, yet three-dimensional, like a hologram, then I just sound like someone who was raised on Disney World’s Haunted Mansion ride and Princess Leia’s image shorting out as she begged Obi-wan Kenobi for help in the recording stored in R2D2.


And I get that, because now, twenty-plus years later, I don’t quite believe it myself. But I swear it happened, and I am glad that it did. I am glad to have the idea that there is more to this corporeal world than we can see, and that fact seems logical to me (why wouldn’t there be more?)

Feel free to post your scientific or psychological explanations of what I’ve just divulged to you, my dear readers, and I’ll probably agree with you. But if you send me your own true-life ghost stories, I’ll read them with great interest and empathy. Please tell me if something like this has ever happened to you.  That way my husband can smirk at someone else for once :). And he has one of the best smirks going.

Happy Halloween and thanks for following! (The image at the top of the post is a photo of a wall in the Spanish Casa de las Caras, the House of Faces, which supposedly contains ghostly images.

One response to “MY GHOST STORY

  1. Marilyn Marquez says:

    Oh, you should talk to my dad about ghost stories…But the dream thing has happened to me, too. My best friend’s father died after a horrible car accident in the late nineties (a guy passing another car in a curve was going to hit them and he maneuvered the car so that his side received most of the impact, and saved the rest of the family in the process). About a month after he died, I dreamed he came to my house and knocked on the door. I answered, and he invited me to go for a walk. We walked to my friend’s apartment building (on the other side of town). This is when he finally spoke: “Tell them everything will be all right, I’m taking care of it.” I had no idea what he meant, but told my friend about the dream anyway. She told me that the guy who had killed his dad was suing them and they were about to lose their apartment because of the legal fees (the guy had bribed the cops to write the paperwork on his favor). A few weeks later, the lawsuit was dropped without explanation.

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