What is Christmas without a ghost story?
“Honey, she’s doing it again!” I called out to my husband.
Our five day old daughter had opened her eyes and stopped her vigorous nursing to stare up at seemingly nothing. Milk slowly dripped from me, spreading a wet patch on the pillow underneath her.
She didn’t blink, but abruptly turned her head to stare at another patch of nothing.
A shiver raced down my spine and the hair on my arms stood up in response.
I thought that if a person was standing next to my chair, she would be looking directly into their face.
Just as suddenly, she re-latched and started her hmm-ing of appreciation.
Hmmmmmmm – gulp. Hmmmmmmm – gulp.
She sounded like an old dot-matrix printer, the kind that took four passes to print a single line and had the tear-away sides. I doubted she’d ever get to hear one of those. The next generation of parents wouldn’t associate their child with a printer – that’s probably a good thing, I giggled to myself.
Her eyes opened at the sound, and she stared up at me for a second before focussing on her task again.
My husband appeared in the doorway. She ignored him in favour of eating.
My neck prickled.
What could have distracted her, when a physical human didn’t?
I don’t believe in ghosts, I thought. I knew I was lying to myself. But I know someone who does.
I contacted them the next morning.
“Of course I’ll come visit and snuggle the baby!” they exclaimed.
I didn’t mention my suspicions.
They came over that afternoon, sinking into the well-used couch with a sigh. I passed them the sleeping baby, and she cooed before snuggling into their chest, still asleep.
“Is she always this cuddly?” they whispered, afraid to wake her.
We talked about anything and everything, and as the time for them to leave drew nearer, I got anxious. The baby hadn’t woken, even though we were laughing.
“I think we have a ghost,” I whispered.
Their eyebrows went up. “I haven’t seen any,” they replied.
“She sees them, I think.” I indicated the softly snoring baby.
“If she isn’t afraid, they’re not malicious.” They seemed certain of this. “Keep an eye on her, and I’ll come back another time.”
Every day for the next month, the baby took the time to stare off into space a couple times a day. Most often, it was in her room, next to the nursing chair. Sometimes it was in the living room, behind the couch. Once in our room, at the foot of the bed.
She learned how to smile voluntarily. I watched her smile at empty spaces, and tried to keep the panic at a minimum.
And then it stopped.
She slept less, paid attention to her surroundings more, and I thought that maybe she had been staring at specs of dust. Babies don’t have the greatest vision.
But around Christmas, she let out a tiny squeak and stared into space again, this time for quite a while. I tried to distract her with my breast, but she ignored it completely for at least five minutes, glancing from one spot to another and back.
I contacted my friend immediately. They came over. The baby was awake. They asked to see her room, but there was nothing unusual.
We sat in the living room and played with the baby, until she whipped around and stared beside the couch.
My friend followed her gaze, and gasped, “I see them. Two women.”
My heart in my throat, I looked over at the empty space, seeing nothing. “What do they look like?”
“One is older. Curly grey hair. Rosy red cheeks and a big smile. She’s fairly short, and a bit stout. I think I’ve seen you wear the necklace she’s wearing…thick silver chain? She has a red sweater, and a long kilt in red and green.”
I swallowed hard, tears in my eyes. I tried to speak around the lump in my throat. “That’s my Grannie,” I croaked. I started crying. “She came to meet her great-granddaughter? I miss her so much. Can you tell her that? Does she understand me?”
“She hears you. She put her hand over her heart and is looking right at you.” My friend was crying too. “The other woman is a little younger. Thinning wispy grey hair, small cheeks that pop when she smiles. She’s a bit taller than your Grannie, and much…umm…bigger. She’s wearing a navy blue dress. Her eyes twinkle.”
“My mother-in-law,” I sobbed. “She would have loved her granddaughter. She always wanted a daughter. I miss her too, but not as much as her son does. She’d be so proud of him.”
“She’s nodding and smiling at you. She knows. They’re talking to the baby again. I can’t hear them, only see them, I’m so sorry,” they apologized.
I took a moment, trying to work the words out around the lump in my throat. “Is it normal, not being able to hear them?”
“Quite. I’ve never heard or felt one.”
I got up to get a tissue from the other side of the room. “You need one?” I offered. At the affirmative, I brought the box back over as I sat beside them again. “You’ve never touched a ghost?” I asked, curious. I sniffed and wiped my cheeks.
“No, I haven’t. I’ve never seen a ghost touch a person.” They copied my motions with a tissue of their own, then paused. “Wait. I have, just once. It was a long time ago. A girl was crossing the street, and a car ran a red light. I saw the ghost yank her back out of the way. It was bright daylight, so I wasn’t a hundred percent sure of what I saw, but I think the ghost vanished after saving her life.”
“It’s not exactly like you can conduct an experiment to see for sure.” I gave them a watery smile.
“No, I guess not!” They laughed weakly.
I thanked my friend for both confirming that we were being visited by ghosts, and that they were not only benevolent, but family. “Merry Christmas!” I waved from the doorway as they left the house.
“And Happy New Year!” they called back.
The months flew by. My daughter learned how to crawl, stand, and walk. She babbled at anyone who smiled at her, which made her a joy to bring places.
All too soon, we were getting ready to celebrate another Christmas. We went shopping for presents at a local holiday bazaar, and my husband was carrying her on his shoulders.
What happened next happened faster than your eyes will be able to read this paragraph; my husband bumped into a display of ornaments at the same time as my daughter twisted around to wave at me. He jerked to catch the ornaments, and, her balance thrown off, she launched herself backwards off his shoulders.
I was too far away.
My heart in my mouth, a scream caught in my throat, I watched her tumble headfirst towards the ground. Ghostly hands steadied her fall, tipped her onto her front, and she landed on her stomach, head bouncing a bit on the concrete at the force of impact. My Grannie looked up at me from beside my baby and smiled sadly, blowing me a kiss and waving goodbye before she vanished.
My daughter let out a wild scream, and my legs unfroze, taking me to her side before I had registered the movement.
She was already pulling herself onto her feet, a nasty purple bump swelling on her temple, and buried her face in my neck, sobs shaking her small frame.
My husband, ashen, helped me stand up and led me back to the car to go to the hospital. I knew before we saw the doctor that she would be alright.
Her guardian angel had seen to that, and would visit no longer.
“Thank you for our Christmas miracle,” I whispered.
This story is part of the Renaissance holiday blog roll! Find out what it’s all about here!