Love from across the great divide
“The finest hour, that I have seen,” folk singer Kate Wolf sang in her song, The Great Divide, “is the one that comes between the edge of night and the break of day, when the darkness rolls away.”
Samhain was officially over yesterday, but today, November 2, for some cultures, the veil is still thin. It’s not over yet; I’m still observing.
In the calm of the morning before dawn, I sat on the staircase in the dark to put on my socks. I like to sit on the stairs first thing in the morning; on the stairs I’m halfway between the sleeping spaces upstairs and the working spaces downstairs.
I like the edges of places and times. There is interest, variety, and power standing at a tangent. Samhain is such an intersection, when we imagine the world of the spirit reaching across the great divide to touch the world of the spirit. Perhaps that’s why I love this season so, aside from the exhilaration of the jump scares of scary movies.
As I sat on the stairs this morning, I felt something pressing round me. Nothing evil, nothing like that. Just a presence, or a pressure. Something simply there, filling the space and embracing the space. And I was reminded of the only ghost story I have that is my very own. Even then, I’m not sure if it was a spirit or simply sleep paralysis.
My own ghost story
We had only recently moved into our house; after 14 years of living in a trailer, I was tickled to have a real bedroom. Our new dog liked to sleep curled at the bend of my knees. (At least until my parents went to bed. Then she wanted to sleep next to my mom.)
I had just closed my eyes, or so it seemed, that moment between wakefulness and sleep being as delicate and crumbly as a dried leaf.
My door opened. I smiled. Even though I was such a grown up—14 years old! —my mom still sometimes came to kiss me goodnight and hear my prayers.
She sat on my bed—I felt the bed sag with her weight—and patted the dog. The dog shifted the way dogs do when someone they love pets them. I raised my arms to hug my mother.
And met nothing. My arms embraced empty air. “Mom?” I mumbled.
The bed creaked as weight was lifted. I opened my eyes and saw a small figure of a woman, in a long dress and hair wrapped into a heavy bun. She reached down and stroked my cheek; I couldn’t see her features, but the shadows were gentle and kind.
Then she put her hand on the doorknob, gave a small wave, and disappeared.
I have no idea who it was, or what it was. It was not scary, not until after it happened, and then only because of the shock. I like to imagine it being one of my great grandmothers, specifically Mamie, who had died just a few years earlier. She liked to visit family, you know. She had been expected to visit us, but her heart had stopped instead.
I like to think she came to see our new house.