This is not your typical ghost story...no blinking lights or spooky noises. But if you believe that there is a quality of life that continues after death, then keep reading...because (even though it sounds like a cliché) what follows is absolutely true.
As background, Jerry (not his real name) and I met during high school. We became the best of friends, nearly inseparable, and did all the dumb things that high school guys do. When I married, Jerry was one of our ushers and I think that the only time I saw him more "proud" was when my wife and I announced the arrival of our daughter in 1985. Jerry as a rule wasn't much for kids, but he took to my daughter instantly...and we referred to him as "Uncle Jerry."
So it came as a tremendous shock to us when Jerry was killed in a shooting in December, 1988. I attended the services (one of the hardest things I ever did, but I wouldn't have been anywhere else that day). Jerry was cremated and I visited his niche several times after he had been laid to rest. I went alone, and got a really creepy feeling being there, but considering where I was thought that normal.
At the time we were living in a two story home in California. Upstairs were the bedrooms, at the downstairs foot of the stairs you could look into the living room. We'd been in the house for a couple years, without incident. It was usual for me to turn off all the lights downstairs before heading up the stairs for the night. One night a couple weeks after Jerry's services I was doing my usual downstairs rounds, and had just hit the bottom of the stairs. As usual I happened to glance off to my right, into the living room, and for some reason I just froze. There was nothing there, nothing truly visible anyway, and yet the room just seemed much darker than normal. I stood there with one foot on the bottom stair, hand on the railing, doing something I had done hundreds of times, only this time it was different somehow. No sound, no movement. I don't know for sure how long I stood there not moving, just sort of waiting, with this uneasy sense, until something in my mind said "this is not good" and I bounded upstairs quickly.
I didn't feel like talking about this with my wife until a couple days later and was still having problems putting what I'd felt into words. While I eventually had been overcome with a fear reaction, I just wasn't sure if I should have been...if that makes sense. She turned to me and asked "do you feel like Jerry came to see you and you frightened him away?" That felt more right to me than anything I'd been able to come up with. I'll probably never know what happened that night, but if it was Jerry I hope he knows I overreacted.
Fast forward 12 years to 2000. We had moved to Washington state by this time, life had moved on, and my daughter who was 3 at the time of Jerry's passing had become 15. She knew Jerry mostly from pictures and what we had told her. In 2000 we found out that my daughter needed surgery that required general anesthesia. It has been said that a person under general anesthesia is medically as close to death as controllably possible. As she was wheeled into the OR, my daughter asked my wife, an OR nurse, if she would dream. My wife told her probably so, and to pick out something she'd like to dream about. My daughter happily agreed.
The surgery went well. Back in the hospital room afterwards we were talking. My wife asked if she dreamed. My daughter's face became serious and she said she had. My wife asked if she had dreamt about what she had wanted to. My daughter said no, that instead she had had a conversation with her "Uncle Jerry." We all froze for a moment, because we hadn't discussed Jerry for a long time and certainly couldn't see why a happy 15 year old would "dream" about him.
My daughter described him in some detail, appearing much as he did when he passed away. In her dream, she was her 15 year old self, not the 3 year old self from 1988. She said she was fuzzy on much of the conversation, but said that she clearly remembered Jerry saying that he wanted us (and me in particular) to know that he was ok, that he was with us and with my daughter to protect her while she was under anesthesia, and that he missed us too. My daughter relayed all this so matter of factly, clearly, without hesitation and so soon after surgery that we couldn't believe it to be anything but accurate.
So, Jerry, if you're out there right now, we still miss you and think of you often. I hope you can continue to watch over us and that we can meet again someday.