This story first appeared under the name “The Message” at Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads and then in the book Ghostly Adventures. The story has been changed slightly from its original appearances.
Polo Shirts and Glasses
We have a hard time letting go sometimes, even when it is for the best. The person tells us to move on, but we may linger on them, not understanding the signs around us. Our perception of the moment, our slant of belief, makes angels into ghosts and familiar people into shadows, and we need to clear our heads before things can make sense again. John was trying desperately to get someone to listen to him, and after his friends and fiancée turned him away, he turned to Denise.
All he wanted to say was that he was all right.
John was from Middletown, New Jersey, and was known as a good guy who went straight to work from high school and was known as a “typical guy.” In the fall of 1997 he asked his girlfriend, Tara, to marry him. She said yes and three weeks later he passed away for reasons that have not been discovered to this day.
Denise went to be with her best friend just days after she got the news. Maybe it was how likable he was, or maybe it was the way he went with no explanation, but everyone he touched was unsettled by the passing.
Unusual things started to happen the night of his wake. Everyone was standing in the driveway getting ready to leave when the sensory lights began to blink on and off. John had been working on them when he died, but he had never finished installing them. “They had never worked before, and never did again,” says Denise, remembering Tara laughing about the lights before breaking down sobbing.
Tara became convinced she saw John at night. “She would wake up and see him sitting on the bean bag in her room. She told me it became something that happened every night. She stopped sleeping, but that didn’t stop it either.” She would also see him at the foot of her bed and hear him walking through the house. She would be too scared to talk to him and lie under the covers, hysterical. She began sleeping with her parents and was unable to walk in areas of the house she thought he had walked on. When she walked in the house, she would shift direction or talk the long way around the room to avoid places the ghost had stepped. Her parents thought it might be PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) but they still ripped up the carpet and changed the house around trying to settle her mind. Nothing worked.
In the meantime, John’s friends started to see him at night too. He would appear at night at the foot of their beds or in the corner of the room. He always seemed like to want to communicate with them. Most of them hide under the covers until he disappeared or ran out of the room. Other convinced themselves they were dreaming, until they started to talk about it. He appeared to at least six of his friends before one of their mothers went to a psychic about it. The psychic said he was trying to tell them something, and they went to her as a group. They were unable to make contact.
Denise also had her own experience, but she didn’t tell anyone until eight months later when Tara finally went back to school at Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, West Virginia. She asked Denise about the wake and the funeral because she had blocked most of it out. Denise told her and then began to tell her a dream she had not longer after his death.
“I call it a dream because I don’t have any other explanation.” She was sleeping in her bed, her room in complete dark, when she was suddenly awoke. John was standing in the middle of her room looking down on her. Everything in the room was dark except for him. He had on a navy blue polo shirt with a red symbol and glasses, something she had never seen him wear. “He told me to tell her that he was okay. That he was happy, that he had moved on and that she doesn’t have to be afraid.” Denise says he was solid, talked his usual voice and there was nothing unusual other than the fact he shouldn’t have been in the room.”
Tara’s reaction when Denise told her about this was even stranger. She ran out of the room and came back with the only processions she kept from John; a navy blue polo shirt with a red rider and a pair of glasses he never wore after he had gotten his contacts.
There were no more occurrences after that. After hearing the story, John’s friends moved on knowing their friend was okay. Tara found peace as well. “Prior to that she used to go to his grave every single day. It was an obsession, she had to go. If she didn’t she couldn’t function.” Now she has married another man and is happy in her life.
“After my dream, the message got to her.”