This story concerns the first time I encountered a human spirit who had already passed away. At the time I was still very young and didn't fully comprehend the gravity of death or what it meant to have someone I know die.
As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother from my father's side of the family. She didn't bake cookies or cakes, but she was my grandmother, and she always made me feel welcome and loved when we visited.
Unfortunately, my grandmother passed away when I was about 6, so the time I was able to spend with her was quite limited. I don't recall the last time I visited her; only that one day she was there and then she wasn't. I'm sure my parents told me my grandmother had gone to heaven and that we would go see her before she went away for good, but I didn't understand what was going on.
I recall the wake which was held at a church. I remember there being quite a turnout. I remember what a nice day it was, how the sunlight came pouring in through the long windows on the sides of the church. And I remember sitting next to one of my older cousins with a bottle of orange juice. I knew I had to be serious, but I didn't fully appreciate how grave the matter was.
My parents sat in a pew a few rows ahead of my cousin and I, and after some time, my father came to ask me if I wanted to see my grandmother. I said that I did. He took me up to see her. I think I recall him telling me that she was sleeping or something of the sort. I also remember something inside me telling me that she was not asleep, but that she was dead. I could tell simply by looking at my grandmother that the life had left her. I may have even told my father so.
My father took me back to my seat and I sat, kicking my feet back and forth, waiting for the wake to be over. I remember everyone going their separate ways at the end of the ceremony, until we'd meet again to hold a vigil one final time at her home.
So we went to the vigil sometime after that. It couldn't have been more than a few days after, and it was evening by the time we arrived. The adults went into my grandmother's home and the kids stayed outside to play in the meantime. At some point I tried squeezing in to catch a glimpse of what was going on, but I only saw pictures and candles, and decided to go back out and play.
I don't remember what time we went home that night, but I very likely fell asleep on the ride home. Later on that night, however, I awoke to use the restroom. I turned on the hall light as I exited my room, regardless of the fact that the restroom was immediately to my left. I also turned on the restroom light before so much as looking in.
So I did my business, washed my hands, and went about going back to my room. When I opened the restroom door, however, I saw something I could never have anticipated. I saw my grandmother. She was fully formed, save for the lower half of her legs which faded into nothingness. It was my grandmother, but the sight of her that night startled me and I ran into my room and hid under the covers. At some point I managed to drift off, but I didn't forget my grandmother's visit.
Since that evening, I have yet to see my grandmother again. I've talked to her on several occasions, and I know that she's heard me when I'm overcome with a sense of well-being. I'm glad that she came to visit me that night, although I only wish I'd mustered the courage to call out to her if only to say goodbye.