After all, what is a ghost? It is my feeling that the word itself is a general term, for the definition of a ghost can vary from one belief to another. I lost two brothers when I was a young child. One before I was even born. While I didn’t know him, he still haunted my life. Not in form, but in memory, essence and in the empty space he left behind. Though I’d never known the space when it was filled with his presence before he died, it was a very real and hollow place in our household. It had the resonance of a huge bell, doubled by the matching space on the other side of it by the second brother. He died when I was four, just long enough to know his presence in my daily life, just long enough to feel the empty space for the rest of mine.
This effect was multiplied for my sister, who was sandwiched in between the boys in age and thus suffered not only the hollows on either side of her, but the repercussions throughout the family itself, being intimately tied to all their memories.
So they haunted us all, for some of us stronger ghosts than others. There were occasions when it was their spirit in the corporeal, but more often and intently it was what was not there. An indefinable memory of what had been kept alive by those who cherished their memory to the point of their own determent, not to mention the other members trapped in that household of hollow places.
There are many kinds of hauntings. The filmy spirituous kind are the least harmful and often the most feared, which is ironic considering the nature of the others is far more destructive. Memories and anxieties slip quietly in and do their dirty work while we aren’t looking, eroding away relationships and courage, drive and ambition, all the things that allow us to move beyond the past and thrive in the future.
Just as we are haunted by the bad, we can be haunted by the good. It is how we take this haunting that determines whether or not it is beneficial. The good things than have come and gone can drive us to seek more of the same, or it can drive us to mourn for what is lost. Our own outlook will determine which path we choose to follow.
We are all haunted in some way, on some level. It is up to us to decide if our ghosts are to be tolerated, embraced or expelled. Choose carefully and with a clear view of what you want the future to hold.