“If I had influence with the good fairy…I would ask that her gift to each child be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.”
“Look, Mama!” my four-year-old son exclaimed, trying to grab my attention. “Look at all those people going up and down the escalators!”
We were visiting the Seattle Art Museum back in March of 2012, waiting for our reserved time to enter a featured exhibit. My son, Julian, had just left my side in order to peer over a solid glass railing that looked down onto a pair of escalators. Joining him at the railing, I couldn’t help but notice a stranger standing adjacent to us at the railing’s corner. He had honey-brown eyes, and seemed kindly amused as he watched my son.
Julian stretched himself up onto his tiptoes to point over the railing, and said again: “Look at all those people going up and down the escalators!”
I looked, as asked, but found that both escalators were empty. “What people, silly?” I tousled his hair. “There’s no one down there.”
“Yes, there are!” he argued, eyebrows crinkled together. “Those people right there! Just look at all those people!”
As if to verify his point, a man and a woman from somewhere down below finally stepped onto the escalator going up.
“Ah, well, yes. There you go! There are some people for you.” I glanced over at the man watching Julian, giving him a “that’s kids for you” sort of smile. But the man wasn’t watching Julian anymore. His eyes had left my son and were now locked on me.
“He sees things that we don’t see,” he said softly.
“I’m sorry?” I asked, leaning in to hear better.
His gentle expression remained unchanged, his eyes, although smiling, were intense. There was an aura coming off of him that made me suddenly hyperaware. “He sees things that we don’t see,” he repeated. I stared at him for several moments, slightly off-balance and, for some reason…scared. This was only seven months after the death of my second son, Gabriel, and since his death, anything that moved in the dark, anything that seemed otherworldly or supernatural….well, you get the idea.
So, as a chill went down my spine, I bent over, took Julian’s hand in mine, and without looking back, I quietly led him away from the man with the honey-brown eyes.
But this episode bothered me for hours, days, I don’t know, maybe even weeks. Because, this wasn’t the first time something strange like this had happened. Since Gabriel’s death, my son often made reference to the fact that Gabriel was with us in our home, usually right outside the windows, he said, playing and being “happy.” And even before Gabriel died, Julian often could be seen smiling at the windows, claiming that his deceased grandparents–whom he’d never met, and we rarely talked about–were standing out there, smiling back at him.
Not yet comfortable with death at this time, as my son had just died and I wasn’t ready to truly contemplate where he was or what had happened to him, I spent a long time running away from situations like this…the proverbial “out of sight, out of mind” attitude that works so well for all of us. Except that, it doesn’t work. Out of sight, sure, but things like this are never out of your mind…not when your son keeps basking in it and bringing it up for casual conversation, and not when our subconscious minds are so powerful and persistent.
Today, with all of the work that I’ve done to heal since the loss of my children, I realize now that I was never afraid of “ghosts,” so to speak, but rather, I was afraid of the unknown. What did Julian see, if anything, and how did that even make sense when looking at things from my viewpoint? The unknown was scary to me, unfamiliar, I couldn’t look it up or even put a name onto what it was supposed to be. It was like I was a child again, with a blindfold over my eyes and was being asked–by Captain Hook–to walk the plank while still trusting that I wouldn’t step over the edge and drown in the water.
About two years later, after Julian’s fifth sibling died, things were slightly different. Gone was his uncensored view of death. After living with a parent who’d been trying to push death away from her as much as possible, he caught my “fever.” Death to him was now becoming scary, not right…unknown. I recognized it in the hospital after my fifth son died. Julian was nervous, weepy, uncomfortable when asked if he wanted to look at the baby. He was becoming like me, and in recognizing this, and in knowing that I wasn’t comfortable with being me, I made the decision to change.
Enter…meditation, gratitude, unshakable acceptance of something “bigger.”
There is life, and there is death, and there should be a sense of wonder and awe about both. Both are beautiful, both are unique, both are a beginning to…something. We don’t need to know all of the answers, nor probably, should we. We have a body, yes, and it’s here right now, but I believe that our bodies are part of something that’s bigger, that “unknown” I’ve been talking about.
Choice one, is to fear it.
But, choice two? The path of freedom, for me, was to embrace it.
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And don’t forget to click here to visit another story about Julian seeing “ghosts.”
Photo credit: Florian F. (Flowtography) on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND. Photo credit: Diego3336 on Visualhunt / CC BY. Photo credit: X O X O L I C I O U S on Visualhunt / CC BY. Photo credit: .• Daniel Pham .• on Visualhunt.com / CC BY. Photo credit: Morgan Thompson on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND.