What Is Real?

When I was 17, I worked nights at Bradlees, a department store in North Windham, Maine. One of our responsibilities was to walk through the store just before closing to determine how many people were left in the store. One night, my friend Shelley and I walked together toward the front of the store to report that our departments were empty. As we turned the corner near the cash registers, we noticed a woman in the last aisle. We reminded her that the store was closing. She turned, looked at us, and smiled.

We continued to the front of the store and told the closing manager that there was only one customer left. No one was allowed to leave until all customers were gone, so we all stood around chatting. Quite a while passed, yet the woman still had not made her way to the front of the store to check out. We were asked to remind her that the store was now closed. We immediately headed to where we had last seen her, but she was no longer there. We split up to search other areas. She wasn’t in any of the departments. She wasn’t in the bathroom. In fact, she wasn’t anywhere to be found. She had simply disappeared. Puzzled, we returned to the front of the store.

When we reported that we couldn’t find her, we got more than a few strange looks. Some of our coworkers joked that we had lost our minds. But we were able to describe the woman in striking detail – her hair, her clothes. Clearly we saw her, yet she was nowhere to be found. With a smirk, one of the managers said, “Well, it looks like you got to see the ghost.” I’m sorry, what? A ghost? For real? And they thought we were crazy?!

Apparently, many people believed the building was haunted by a female ghost. None of them had ever seen her, but they knew the stories. But wait……how could this be? In my young, naïve mind, ghosts looked like, well, ghosts. Misty, translucent, shadowy…..nothing like what we saw. The woman we saw, standing only about 15 feet away from us, was as real as any living being. She even turned and looked directly at us. And smiled.

I must admit that it totally freaked me out. The thought that a ghost could be that real and that it could actually interact with you…..it just blew my mind. It wasn’t until years later, when my interest in the paranormal deepened, that I began to comprehend how extremely lucky I had been to see a full-bodied, fully formed, intelligent apparition. Oh man, what I wouldn’t give to go back to that day, knowing what I know now.

I think of that day all the time. The experience was an absolutely amazing one, but it also makes me wonder. We, as paranormal investigators, search high and low, in the dark, in the cold, trying to capture evidence of the unexplained. But what if some of the dead are far more visible than we ever imagined? The woman I saw was as real, as solid, and as natural as any living human being. What if there are others like her walking among us, completely unnoticed?

Seeing that woman was an amazing, life-changing experience for me. But was it a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Or is it far more common than any of us realize?

Certainly makes you wonder……what is real???

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