When you least expect it...
As someone who spends a large portion of their time in active pursuit of paranormal experiences, you would be forgiven for assuming that I've had many a frightening or haunting encounter in my 34 years on this planet...and it is true that I've spent many hours sitting in darkness listening for unexplainable sounds, shadows and even apparitions. If I had to put a figure on the success rate of such ventures, I'd have to estimate that in maybe 10% of investigations something happens which warrants further investigation or discussion. The sad truth about this seemingly exciting profession is that for every exciting moment, there are an infinite number of boring ones!
I would love to be able to say that I have seen many ghosts, or that I have spoken at length with a disembodied voice, about all things spiritual, but alas, despite spending the last 19 years or so reading and talking about all things paranormal I have to say that in terms of actual 'experiences', I can probably count those which I would classify as SIGNIFICANT on one hand. The truth is that the world of the supernatural is elusive. If you consider yourself to have had an experience which proves to you beyond all doubt that the is life after death, then consider yourself incredibly fortunate. Of course there are people who believe they have had many many paranormal experiences, but given the number of hours, days, weeks, months and years I've spent devoted to exploring and attempting to understand this endlessly fascinating subject, I often question whether there is an element of "seeing what you want to see" when it comes to most experiences - in fact no, I don't question this, I know this to be true...in some cases.
I have met people all over the world who I have absolute faith in, and I trust 100% that they believe they have had a paranormal experience. It's not so much that society as a whole (or at least those pockets of society who discuss the supernatural) are all colluding in the illusion that these perceived experiences are real, while secretly knowing that it's all fantasy. On the whole these people absolutely believe that when something seemingly unexplainable happens to them, that it has an other worldly cause.
They hear a floorboard creak upstairs when no-one is there for example, and BINGO! ghostly footsteps.
It is for this reason that just 5 experiences I've had throughout my lifetime stand out to me as unexplainable, at least in the generally accepted sense. Of those 5, 3 happened when I least expected it. I wasn't in the middle of an investigation, or at a seance or even attempting to communicate with the spirit world. I was going about my day to day life, things were running smoothly.
The experience I'm about to relay, wasn't the first unexplainable, potentially paranormal experience of my life, but it was probably the one which acted as the catalyst for everything that followed.
In 2006 Simon and I met. I'd been involved in the world of paranormal investigation for about 8 years and Simon was also an enthusiast, although fairly skeptical. He loved a good ghost story...but he couldn't have imagined that he would end up in his own! In August of that year we decided to have a last minute holiday, just 1 week in a caravan in Wales. It was on farm land completely isolated and absolute bliss! We have glorious weather and spent our days cycling around the valleys, stopping at waterfalls and generally enjoying life.
One night, I was asleep in bed, when I became aware that Simon was not in bed next to me. I got out of bed and walked through the caravan, getting as far as the kitchen sink. I started getting a glass of water, and as I did I looked to my left towards the living area. There on the sofa was Simon, fast asleep. But it was not Simon I was focussed on. Stood leaning over him was a woman. She had white hair, in a very neat loose perm, an ankle length navy pleated skirt, a white twin set (jumper and cardigan) and was wearing pearls. I could see her as clearly. She turned her head towards me and I immediately felt she was kind. Her gaze returned to Simon.
For some inexplicable reason, I turned around picked up my water and got back in bed.
In the morning when Simon came back into the bedroom the first words I said to him were "Your Nan was watching over you last night". I have no idea why I thought it was his Nan! He looked at me with a confused look as you would expect and asked me what I meant. I explained what had happened and he seemed unsure whether to believe me. As I mentioned before, he's pretty skeptical and at this point we didn't know each other very well.
He told me that he had woken in the night feeling really quite ill. He felt dizzy and was having palpitations and he said that at one point he thought he was in his words"a gonna" (meaning he felt he may not make it through the night). He went on to say that if there was ever someone watching over him then it would be his Nan as they were very close. I described the lady I'd seen and he said it sounded very much like his Nan.
Our holiday continued, but the story doesn't end there.
Several weeks later we were sitting on his parents patio enjoying a few drinks in the summer evening air when the story of my 'weird experience' came up. I finished telling Simons parents, and his Mum went to get her photo album. She sat next to me and as she flicked through the pages I felt a knot in my stomach and had a wave of sickness in anticipation. Suddenly, there she was. The woman I had seen in the caravan. An old polaroid photo, apparently at a birthday party many years ago, there sat a woman, white hair, white top, pearl necklace and navy blue skirt. I didn't really know what to think or what to say apart from "that's who I saw". Everyone exchanged glances and suddenly Simons laughter broke the ice.
"Well she must be looking after me then!" he said light heartedly.
And that, as they say, was that. I've never seen her again.