I am sitting in a building erected in a decade when buildings were square and walls could never be thick enough. Brown ivy climbs a brick exterior white-washed so many times that it seems smooth. The old steel radiators chitter like a multitude of sparrows and my seat was built for someone with a smaller number of dietary choices. The nurse who shows me around is a lifer, 18 years in. She is jovial and compassionate as our illusions crumble.
"This place is old, lots of stories AND ... it's haunted. HA! Just joshing. But stick together."
Her comment would not have struck my imagination if it had not been repeated, near verbatim, by another instructor. I wonder if it is the start of some elaborate hazing ritual. But this is a serious place. When we reach the part of the training where they wish again to impress upon me the importance of diversity, my mind wanders.
I remember my first end-of-life case as a CNA. The hospice nurse guiding me instructed me in her thick island accent to leave the door open. ... "So the poor dear doesn't get stuck on her way home."
When I was in the Peace Corps, funeral processions were a regular part of life. Children would run ahead of the march, knocking over chairs and covering comfortable rocks and stumps with flowers. The logic was that the spirit was tired from crossing over and would sit if allowed. Lost without the procession, it might become angry and cause mischief.
Then the memory of my uncle telling a gaggle of cousins about the grizzly bear that haunts our farming clan. The story goes that whenever a man in my family is about to die, it can be heard dragging the trap that drove it mad.
I have no truck with spirits one way or the other. My belief in ghosts can be directly related to how dark it is and how alone I am. I like science and studies and rock solid fact. Still, I remember the first time I heard a death rattle. It occupies some of my more primal nightmares.
I thought I would ask, because I will be working some long, lonely RN shifts in this very serious place. Where does our profession, so familiar in the art and science of death, stand on the subject of hauntings? Any thoughts?