When I was 7-8 years old, my family and I lived in a three-story mansion in midtown Sacramento. The house was 83 years old at the time we lived there and had been willed to my grandmother by her best friend, Esther, who died of cancer at the age of 77.
Esther was nothing short of a saint. Never spoke a bad word about anyone, always saw the bright side of things, always smiling, even when the cancer became so advanced you knew there was no way she wasn't in pain. She died quietly in the Blue Room, which would later become my mom's room.
From the moment we moved into the house I felt... something, like I was never quite alone. Like a lot of young kids, sometimes I would forget to turn off lights, close cabinet doors, etc. After leaving a room I would remember to turn off the light, but when I turned around, the light would switch off by itself, and cabinets that I'd forgot to shut would close by themselves.
Our dog sometimes acted strange, but not in a bad way. I'd walk into the living room and she would be on her back on the floor, pumping her leg like she was having her belly scratched, or she would stand in one spot sniffing thin air, where a shorter person's hand might hang.
My parents fought almost constantly, and after a fight my dad would leave, and my mom would go to bed, leaving my brother and I alone upstairs to deal with their explosive fights ourselves. After a fight, I would hear extremely slow steps coming up the stairs, too slow to be either of my able-bodied parents. My door would open, but when I looked over, there was never anyone there. My windows stayed closed at night and there were no vents in the room. But I always felt a presence in the room, and despite being upset over my parents' fight, I always managed to fall asleep.
To this day I know it was Esther. She never had any children of her own (hence, her estate went to my grandma) and she loved my brother and me as if we were her own. She hated seeing us upset over anything. I asked my brother if he ever felt Esther was near, and he said he didn't. I think he said he didn't because as an older boy, he felt he shouldn't still believe in ghosts.
I believe she never touched me because it would have scared me. I think she stood just near enough to be there for me and console me the only way she could, when my parents were too wrapped up in their own business to come upstairs and comfort us.
That's what I believed then, and that's what I'll believe until the day I die.