Ghosts or voices in my head? You decide...

     I have often been asked about my beliefs when it comes to the "afterlife".  Although I do not believe in a supreme being and a heaven or hell, I do believe that when the physical body dies, there is some sort of energy or spirit that does live on.  Throughout my lifetime I have experienced different things that back up my beliefs.
     I remember as a child that I had a friend who's name was Michael.  Michael was invisible to everyone but me.  He and I would chatter in our special language while coloring, playing or doing other activities during my day.  Adults treated my friend Michael as my "imaginary friend" and that was it.  Looking back I realize that he was more.  For me, he was a spirit that watched over me and kept me company when I needed a companion.  He stayed with me as I grew but our conversations slowly ended and he became just a shadow or presence over my shoulder.  I still feel him with me today.  I have never known who he was or why he has been with me but I think he watches over me and guides me as I live this life.
     One of the strongest experiences was in Germany in the spring of 2001.  Jim and I were visiting the part of Germany where the young Anne Frank's life came to an end at the Bergen-Belson Concentration  Camp.  We took a bus to the camp to visit and learn about that dark period of German History.  We were there on a beautiful spring day filled with sunshine and woodland flowers.  As we entered the camp I began to hear a voice whispering in my ear that said, "There were no birds singing then."  Because of the beautiful spring day, wild birds sang in the woods surrounding the camp.  Jim and I were at the camp for a number of hours walking through the graves and learning about what had happened there.  We visited the marker for Anne and her sister who both died months before the camp was liberated.  The entire time we were in the camp, the small voice repeated the phrase about the lack of birds singing then.  As we prepared to leave, we visited the camps information center and I signed the guest book.  I wrote, "Today the sun was shining and the birds were singing but there were no birds singing then".  After we returned home to Minnesota we learned that there was a TV movie mini series called "Anne Frank, The Whole Story" that would air in about two weeks.  I could not wait to see it.  As we watched the final episode of the mini series that portrayed the last hours of Anne and her sister, Anne said to her sister, "Listen, do you hear the birds singing?".  I felt a cold shiver as I heard those words.  I suddenly knew why I had been hearing the words, "There were no birds singing then" when we had visited the camp.  Anne had been sending me a message letting me know that she was there. 
     Besides Michael and Anne, I have experienced various spirits in various ways.  I have heard screams coming from dungeons in old castles in Europe.  I have heard the blood drip from ancient weapons on display in museums.  And at home, I have met the woman living in our 110 year old house that we call the "Lady of the House".
     The Lady of the House first introduced herself to us immediately after we moved in.  As we looked on the ceiling of the guest bedroom, we noticed the outline of a woman in the cracks in the old plaster ceiling.  The woman wore a large hat with feathers and was looking down over her shoulder.  The outline looked like a woman from the turn of the 19th to 20th century.  Often I would lay on the bed in the room and stare at the outline and think about a woman who might have lived in the house and I wondered if the creaks in the floor at night or the steps on the stairs were made by this woman.  As we remodeled the house, the bedroom ceiling was torn down and replaced with a new one.  As the workers removed the old plaster they found three magazines from 1907.  On the back of two of the three magazines was an add and the add showed a close up of a woman wearing a large hat with feathers looking over her shoulder.  It was exactly the outline that had been in the cracks in the ceiling.  Seems the Lady of the House wanted to stay and make her presence known.  And, even though the stairs were replaced with new ones, the steps continue and the creaks often wake me in the night.  She lives on and watches over her home and those who live here.
     And then there is my father.  He died unexpectedly in March of 1995.  Shortly after he died I had a dream, at least I think it was a dream.  In the dream, I woke up and saw my dad sitting on the railing at the top of the stairs.  When he noticed that I was looking at me he smiled.  I got out of bed and walked towards him.  As I got close, he grinned and spoke, "Hello Old Chum" he said,.  "Old Chum" was one of his nicknames for me throughout my life.  When he said that, I woke up in a sweat.  I actually had to get up and out of bed to look to make sure he wasn't still sitting on the rail at the top of the stairs.  Since then, although I do not see him except in my dreams, I do feel he is with me, watching over me and guiding me.
     From Michael to The Lady of the House, from Anne Frank to my father, I know that I have been lucky to have seen and heard spirits that guide me and watch over me.  And I know that I share this world with those who have passed onto the next part of life, the world of the spirits.  And one day, I will walk in that world with them and hopefully, I will be able to whisper in the ears of the living and watch them as they travel this thing called life.

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