It just hit me today–literary criticism and ghost stories. Why not? I was dusting an old book when I remembered a ghostly encounter connected to it some years ago. First, some background is in order.
Since my days as a toddler, a boy down the street and I were good buddies. Billy and I had few choices for friends because we lived in a rural area, plus our mothers were friends. Billy was like my brother; we grew up together. As we grew older and I moved a few miles away to a new school district, we each widened our circle of friends. We didn’t see each other as much but remained in touch over the years. Our families stayed close, and we were always welcome at one another’s homes. However, a harsh reality crashed our friendship for good when Billy died unexpectedly at the age of 18. It still doesn’t seem that he’s really gone, even though decades have rolled by without him.
Billy never left me. He comes to me in dreams and comforts me in times of stress. Sometimes he shows me things from our past–things like his sisters’ upstairs bedroom where we all used to play, the kitchen, and one time a close up view of a patch of wallpaper in the downstairs. These dream encounters keep Billy alive in my mind, but one morning, Billy’s antics penetrated the physical world.
Some 10 years ago, I was extremely depressed because I had a freak accident that severed my left ulnar nerve (the “funny bone,”. which is anything but funny to me now.). The realization that i sustained a lifelong injury from which I’d never fully recover began to dawn on me. I’ m a sensitive person who enjoys music and writing, so losing full use of my left hand dealt me a devastating blow. Try as I might to come to grips with my new reality, I feel into a deep depression. Billy must have felt my physical and emotional state of mind, so I believe he did something extraordinary to cheer me and let me know he remains my buddy forever.
At the time, a stack of antique books were lined up on top of my bedroom dresser, also an antique. The books were hardcover, so they never slipped or slid down the dresser top. One morning I was sitting in bed trying to decide if I should even get up and dressed for the day when an amazing, unbelievable thing took place before my eyes. One of the hardcover books flew from the dresser, made a swirling turn in mid-air, then crashed to the floor. In disbelief, I jumped out of bed to investigate. To my utter surprise, the book cover had flopped open to the Preface, but in its place, some long ago student had crossed out the word “Preface” and wrote the words “Pretty Face.” Right then I knew it was Billy. I felt no fear, only amazement and wonder.
Honestly, who would make anything up like this? I had no idea the book had been defaced with a bored student’s scribble. Further, the book was about agriculture and its relevance to teaching children to keep the farming culture alive! Billy and I played in the corn and soybean fields of Illinois. What a perfect communication from beyond.