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Not long ago, I was chastised by a friend for not showing proper respect in a cemetery. It’s true that I was excited; it’s a beautiful graveyard and I’d just found the plot where the founder of the city and his descendants were buried. And no, I don’t (usually) lower my voice or act any differently in a cemetery than I do anyplace else, although I do have immense respect for those who have lived before me. I just don’t treat the dead any differently than the living, because to me, theoretically, they’re only in another stage of life. I tend to put myself in their position – if they are indeed still lingering nearby, if they are somehow cognizant of what is happening on this plane and in this time, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone come talk to them or at least read their names and show a modicum of interest in who they were?

I’ve thought about what my friend said and completely see his point, and therefore have determined to be more aware of my behavior around those who might not share my viewpoint. And perhaps the way I see it is purely selfish. I have no husband and no children and little hope of having either; 50 years from now, there will likely be no one who remembers me or knew me, and 100 years from now there definitely won’t be. I’ll be a name etched in marble, or listed as the old maid aunt in someone’s family tree, but no one will know who the real me was. This to me is infinitely sad, and it’s true for just about all of us. At some point, we’ll fall out of memory unless we’ve done something remarkable enough to be recorded for posterity. How many of us know the names of our ancestors beyond a generation or two? And even if we do, what do we really know about those people with whom we share the most intimate of bonds, our blood, our DNA, our distinctive features, personality traits, and quirks?

This is why I investigate the paranormal, at least in part. I’m interested in the stories that ghosts, assuming they exist and assuming they are what remain of us when we die, have to impart to the living. If nothing else, I would like to somehow validate them and perhaps even help them, if they are lost or lonely or confused. I’d like to discover their names and anything they want to tell me about their lives or deaths. I’d like to give them the chance to share who they were and what they loved and wanted in life, perhaps even what they still want. If I were a ghost, I would want someone to just talk to me as if I were still alive, to bring laughter and emotion back to me and remind me of what being human means. Heck, I want someone to do that for me now. Ha! I think it all boils down to human compassion and connection. We are all intertwined and all important, and that is as true in life as it is after death.