I do not believe in ghosts. I need further evidence for most supernatural monsters. I don’t believe evil lives within phantoms, other-worldly beings, mutants, demons, chupacabra, and evil spirits.
But it does live within people.
People hurt other people. Sometimes even without meaning to. People are not perfect, and many mistakes they make have terrible consequences that kill, maim, and destroy people’s lives. It would be nice if we were a little bit better protected from some of the mistakes made by people with guns.
I am not haunted by ghosts. But the faces of the dead children at Sandy Hook and Robb Elementary haunt me. And former students who have left us too soon because of domestic violence, car accidents, drunk driving, and gang violence haunt me too. There are real monsters. But they have human faces.
There are at least three students I loved when they were alive that are now only sad faces in my nightmares. And there are at least four young adults I worry about because of the ravages of depression and the possibility of suicide that attends it. They are never going to be truly safe in the whole of their lifetimes.
But here’s the thing that lets me fall back to sleep when the ghosts in my nightmares are finished saying, “Boo!” and haunting me. If you ever loved someone, they still live in your heart. Their lives were not meaningless. You know for sure they touched at least one heart… yours.
I wish I could’ve saved you, Ruben. That gang did not protect you. And, J.J., you should not have had anything to drink before deciding whether you could beat the train to the railroad crossing. Alyssa, I am sorry you ever met him. You all three still live in my heart. Haunt me as much as you need to. You can never scare me again, and I would love to see you again, even if only as a face in a nightmare.
We live in a haunted world. We are viewed from the darkest corners by haunted eyes. But in the end, we have nothing to fear. Ghosts are not real. And there are no monsters, if only we choose not to become them.