Imagine you are in an empty house. There is another person working in the detached garage, but you are the only one within the home. As you sift through the accumulations of a lifetime well lived, you hear a thump from the master bedroom. Something must have fallen over, you think to yourself, and you go on sifting. Another thump sounds from the bedroom. This time you decide you’d better check; perhaps a cat got in the house and you wouldn’t want to lock it in by mistake. You check the room, though, and nothing is there. You check under the bed, in the closet and all around, but nothing reveals itself. The door had been closed, so if it was a cat, it couldn’t have gotten out. Oh, well. Back in the living room, you once again settle into your work, taking pictures of interesting items, making notes about what you are finding. A third thump sounds. Louder this time. Your heart begins a rapid beat as you realize that there is nobody else in the house except you, and you know you are not making the thumps. You also know that the person who had lived in that house until just recently had died a month ago and that is why you were hired to do the estate sale. The hairs on your arms are now all standing up and you notice an odd tingling down your back as though someone is watching you. You turn and look behind you. Nothing is there. There must be a logical explanation, you think. Maybe someone outside bumped the wall or maybe you’ve gone stark raving mad and are having hallucinations. That must be it, because you KNOW that there’s no such thing as ghosts. Still, you feel you’ve been cooped up long enough in the dark, stuffy room, so you hurriedly pack up and get the heck out of there. Once outside in the bright sunlight, you laugh at how silly you were. But you never go alone into that house again.
Scenes similar to the above happen to many estate sale professionals, I’ve been told. Are they sensitive to the spirit world or are they just scaredy cats? I don’t know. I wish I did, because the subject fascinates me. After all, I spend a lot of my time surrounded by houses and things that belonged to a person who has passed on, often just recently. Do they stay around in spirit, checking up on me as I riffle through their treasures, reading over my shoulder as I thumb through their abandoned diaries and love letters? Every time I walk into the home of someone who has died, I greet the person by name and explain why I’m there trespassing in their home. I do it just in case there is someone there, someone no longer in their earthly body. Nobody has ever answered back to me, and I’m ambivalent about how that makes me feel. I have never seen nor felt a ghost, nor have I had any paranormal experiences of any sort. I feel left out, though I probably shouldn’t. According to a CBS Ghost Poll, nearly half of Americans believe in ghosts, but only 22% claim to have actually seen or felt the presence of a ghost.
I guess I’m revealing my own bias when I used the word “claim” when it comes to seeing or sensing ghosts. Having never seen or felt anything like a ghost, I’m skeptical of their claims. And jealous. I want to see or sense the presence of a ghost. I think I want to, at least. When I’m in one of those houses alone, the last thing I want is to see the image of someone from beyond. Let me re-phrase that: I don’t want it to be the LAST thing I see.