Last night I was visited by a ghost.
I woke up in the early hours of the morning. At a time where the sky starts to take on a lighter navy color with hints of gray. You can’t quite see the golden rays of the sunrise out your window just yet. But the moon is still high in the sky, high enough that the only light shining through your window is the silver mist that comes from the moon.
This was a ghost. Not an angel. Not the black hood of death. A ghost. And the ghost was me.
She came over and sat at the edge of my bed as I wiped the evidence of sleep from my eyes. She sat there and pat my leg, so maternal and sincere.
Once I recognized myself in her face I sat straight up in bed. She watched me intently for a couple of seconds before either of us spoke. I couldn’t handle the suspense any longer and I did the most cliché thing I could have done, I asked her, “am I dead?”
She giggled to herself and looked at me with those eyes like she knew me better than anyone in the world, and I guess she did.
“You aren’t dead, yet.”
I sighed with relief then I asked her the second most clichéd question, “is this a dream?”
She shook her head and looked to the ground. Then she looked toward the light streaming through my window.
“This isn’t a dream. I came to stop you from making a mistake.”
She stands now and walks to the other side of the room. She places both of her hands on the windowsill and stares out in to the darkness.
My mind races for explanations. What could I have done wrong? What kind of mistake do I make? Can she change my fate? How do I know that I should listen to her?
After what feels like forever of silence she turns to face me. Now she looks like an angel. The moonlight emitting from behind her, tracing her body with light.
She comes closer and I finally see myself. My hair flows loosely around my face. No makeup, no perfume, just the simplest form of me. I admire myself for a moment, in a way I never have before. It’s like looking in to a mirror but there is something missing. The life in her sea green eyes isn’t there. That’s the difference between us.
I finally get the courage to ask, what mistake had I made.
“You did everything right. You followed all of the rules. You made everyone around you happy. You succeeded in your career and had a happy personal life.”
She stops there, this is where I am confused. Where along the way was the mistake? Where was the big event I should be looking out for?
She comes closer now. She is standing right next to me as I sit up in bed. She strokes my hair and looks down intently at me.
She leans in closer, close enough that I can feel her breath on my ear.
“You forgot how to live,” she whispers.
She pulls back to find a puzzled look on my face. She takes a moment and then continues.
“You got so wrapped up in work and making others happy you forgot about what you wanted out of life.”
I shake my head and look to my hands resting in my lap. This can’t be it. I can’t decide to haunt myself after I’m dead to remind myself to live. This can’t be happening.
And almost as if she can read my mind (because she can, she is me) she looks at me with a serious expression.
“Believe me, you forget it all. Your trip around the world. The bucket list you created that you wanted to complete. You fought for love but then stopped caring along the way.”
I shake my head no again because I don’t believe her. This can’t be right, it doesn’t sound like me.
“You stopped paying attention to the way the grass smelled after it rained. Or the little rainbow of colors that sometimes sit on top of a puddle. You stopped appreciating the sunset after a long hot day or the first snow fall of the winter. You became too focused, too distracted by everything else in life to noticed. You stopped seeing the little things. You stopped living.”
I don’t believe this woman who looks like me. I don’t believe a word she says.
“You need to leave,” I shout. “I don’t believe you and your lies.”
She looks to the window again then back at me.
“I had a feeling that you wouldn’t believe me,” she says quietly.
She walks over to the window an places her hands on the windowsill again.
She turns around to look at me.
“Don’t take life for granted. Because you can’t always get back what you lost.”
And just like that she faded in to the moonlight.