Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air; and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control, rather than part of its own expression.
Anybody familiar with A Christmas Carol, in movie or book form, is familiar with this moment. Scrooge, unlocking the door to his house, has his first encounter with the ghost of Jacob Marley. The knocker on the door becomes the head of Scrooge's dead partner. Dickens' description is enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck, especially if you're reading the book late at night or early in the morning, as I usually am.
Most days, I think , everybody is chased by ghosts from the past. The ghosts don't even necessarily have to be the ghosts of deceased persons. For example, this morning, I've been haunted by my pastor friend who moved to a downstate church about three years ago. I still see him about once or twice a year. We speak on the phone every couple of weeks. He's still in my life, in a distant way. However, today, he seems really close to me, his face in front of my face, his voice in my ears. Don't know why. He's one of my best friends. I miss him terribly. But, usually, he's not quite so...present in my daily existence.
On my computer at work, I have a photo collage of my kids as a screen saver. It cycles through about 30 or 40 pictures of my son and daughter. In some of the pictures, my children are two years younger than they are now. That might not seem like a big difference if you're my age (between 30 and dead), but for kids, those two years are dog years--the equivalent of like 14 years. My son is no longer the chubby baby in some of the photos, and my daughter has transformed from a goofy nine-year-old into a gorgeous pre-teenager. It's a little depressing staring at their ghosts, reflecting on how much they have changed.
Then again, I'm not the same person I was two years ago. I'm older, hopefully a little wiser. I've had some difficult moments. I've had some joyous moments. I get tired a lot earlier. I stay at home a lot more. I'm different. The person I was two years ago is a ghost.
Some of the ghosts I have in my life are pleasant, give me comfort. I like looking at the pictures of my kids on my computer at work. Some of the ghosts are distracting, full of longing for missing friends. I will probably call my pastor friend some time today. And some of the ghosts remind me how much I have learned in my life. I love my wife. I love my kids. I am lucky.
Saint Marty is a haunted man.