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Have You Ever Seen A Ghost?

Updated on October 2, 2010

Ghosts are prevalent in literature

Literature is replete with stories of ghosts. From Charles Dickens’ ghosts in “A Christmas Carol” to Bloody Mary to the Flying Dutchman to Casper, we have historically embraced ghosts as viable topics for storytelling. Even the Bible mentions ghosts; Jesus sought to convince His disciples that He was not an apparition following the resurrection. Television and film has often featured beings from the spirit world, from the multitude of ghosts inhabiting Collinwood in Dark Shadows to Jennifer Love Hewitt’s weekly offering of sightings in Ghost Whisperer. Patrick Swayze played a most famous phantom, and many believe well-known people have returned as spirits, including Abraham Lincoln and Marilyn Monroe.

Have you ever seen a ghost? Would you know for certain if you did? I’ve never researched ghost sightings. I don’t know what I should look for to determine if I’ve ever encountered a spirit, but two bizarre events that took place decades apart from each other convinced me I did. Read my story and decide for yourself.


Ghost, more ghost, and ghost hunters

The most famous ghost hunter in recent times, thanks to CBS!
The most famous ghost hunter in recent times, thanks to CBS!
A glowing man...?
A glowing man...?
Light and shadow on the staircase
Light and shadow on the staircase
Lara Parker plays the ghost of Angelique in Night of Dark Shadows
Lara Parker plays the ghost of Angelique in Night of Dark Shadows
Patrick Swayze as a ghost in one of his most famous roles
Patrick Swayze as a ghost in one of his most famous roles
Ghosts can be friendly, too!
Ghosts can be friendly, too!
A shadowy figure--friend or menace?
A shadowy figure--friend or menace?
Abraham Lincoln is said to stalk the White House as a ghost
Abraham Lincoln is said to stalk the White House as a ghost
And, Marilyn Monroe has been said to walk the earth again, also.
And, Marilyn Monroe has been said to walk the earth again, also.

My own story--was it a ghost I saw, or wasn't it?

 The Man in the Back Yard Part 1

One fall night when I was approximately five years old, I lie awake in the darkness of my bedroom, unable to sleep.  I heard my brother’s rhythmic breathing on the other side of the room—he was sound asleep.  In boredom and frustration I sat on the edge of the bed, gently pulled open the curtains and looked through the bedroom window into the yard, separated from the adjacent cemetery behind it by a metal wire fence.  As I looked outside into the blackness, I noticed a man.  He had dark hair and wore a red jacket, a brown shirt, blue pants and boots.  He wandered about the yard as if searching for something.  I hurried back into bed and hid under the sheets and blankets in panic.  A few moments later, I mustered the courage to peek through the window again and see if the man were still there.  He was still behind the house, now slightly closer.  He looked downward and around the trees as though he lost something in our yard. My heart pounded as I leapt into bed a second time and covered my head with blankets.  When I told my story to my mother and brother the next day, I was assured that I must have been dreaming; but, it was far more vivid than a normal dream.  It seemed real.


The Man in the Back Yard Part 2

I stared at the ceiling one cold winter’s night in my parents’ house.  I was 28 years old and back in my old bedroom while the broken pipes in my home on Rhode Island Street were being repaired.  The furnace blew beneath me but was routinely turned down at night while everyone slept.  I was covered with blankets and the familiar surroundings of my room should have been sufficiently relaxing to induce sleep, but instead I battled insomnia.  It felt like I had been awake for hours, and I struggled for so long attempting to fall asleep I didn’t want to know what time it was.  From sheer boredom I glanced out the bedroom window and a chill borne of terror and amazement shot down my spine. 


I instinctively recoiled from the window in shock, but forced myself to peek outside again.  I saw a man in a red jacket, blue jeans, and a brown shirt moving about the back yard as if he was looking for something.  He circled the tree as he wandered about.  I noticed he stood out in the darkness as if a light shone upon him or, perhaps from him.  He was not cloaked in darkness as one would expect in the middle of the night.  The experience seemed familiar because it happened before.  I recalled witnessing the same event as a small child decades earlier.  In panic I moved away from the window once more.  When I summoned the courage to look outside again, the man was gone.  Despite the cold, sweat appeared on my forehead as I sought to calm myself.  I wrote off the experience as a dream when it happened years ago, but had no rationalization for seeing an illuminated man in the yard outside the window for a second time.  I mentally counted off the possible explanations:  I was dreaming a dream so vivid I couldn’t discern what was real; I was insane; or, I saw a spirit.  In the same manner I had years prior, I curled up under the sheets of the bed.  I was content to spend the night hiding from the spirits in the darkness if necessary.  After an indeterminate period of time I finally fell asleep.  I woke up exhausted the next morning.


When I arose, I contemplated the possibility that I was asleep the entire time, and experienced a dream similar to one I remembered from childhood.  As an adult, however, I felt more confident in believing I was awake.  It was possible I slept through the night and dreamed of seeing a glowing man in the yard, but that certainly didn’t seem like what happened.  It seemed like I saw a ghost—the same phantom I spied years earlier, unchanged by time.  With a cemetery directly behind the back yard, if anyone had ever seen a ghost, it was certainly plausible I saw one.  I wondered what this spirit searched for in the yard of a house built in the 1950’s.  No one lived there before my parents, so it wasn’t as if someone died there.  I speculated he was a lost soul looking for his own grave.  Perhaps he lost or buried something in the yard months or years before the house was built.  His clothes looked relatively modern, and if he was a ghost he wasn’t from times long ago.  Would a metal detector turn up the answer to these questions?  If I found something buried in the yard, would it be distinctive enough to deduce the story behind the artifact?  My father owned a metal detector at the time, but a quick scan of the yard turned up nothing. 


Later I remembered a visit eight years earlier to Stull Cemetery a few miles west of Lawrence, when friends of mine described seeing a man near the abandoned church there.  What they saw was remarkably similar to my own experience—a man who seemed unaffected by the shadows of night, radiating light and color as if he stood in broad daylight instead of the darkness.  The similarities were startling.  Taking place decades apart, three times my friends and I saw a man in a dark cemetery illuminated as if standing in broad daylight.


 I chose to accept the explanation that it was in fact a ghost I twice watched prowl about the yard—not a dream or hallucination.  If ghosts weren’t visible in close proximity to a graveyard, where might they be found?  The decision to believe never invoked fear in me—I was able to walk into the yard at night, for example, but it filled me with wonder.  What was the story of this strange figure?  Did he find what he was looking for?  I told the story repeatedly over the years, and when I recounted my experiences I always described the event as seeing a ghost, no matter who it was I told.  From that day forward, I counted myself among those who, when asked if they had ever seen a ghost, answered yes.


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