Friday, 13 March 2015

The knowing


I don’t know when it began - the awareness. The knowing, without knowing why, but just knowing. 

That’s how it was with me when I was a little kid. That’s how it has always been - the knowing without having any right to that knowledge. 

I knew what people had been up to. I knew what they were thinking. I knew when something had happened, who was responsible. I was also very sensitive to mood. I could walk into a room and know what had just been happening in there, particularly if strong emotions were involved - even if people were no longer in the room.

My parents told me it was impossible to just know. There's no such thing as a knowing. Someone must have told you these things, if not, you were listening in to conversations you shouldn't have been. I was told to, "Go away and play - don't hang around listening to adult discussions".

But I wasn't.

I learnt very quickly to keep my mouth shut about the knowing. And I had to stop telling people - even playmates - about things that I knew because they didn’t know.

I didn't understand what was going on. I didn't understand how I just knew stuff, but I was a little kid, with other things on my mind like feeding my tadpoles and playing with my Barbie dolls, so I didn't question what was happening to me.

And so it was with Bobby. Bobby was a little kid who hung out in my back yard and who used to come and play with me. I couldn't say the first time I met Bobby - I can't remember there ever being a first time. It’s like Bobby was always there even though, logically, there must have been a first time I saw him.

In any case, seeing him was no surprise, and going outside to play was no big deal because he was always  waiting somewhere in my yard. I still recall going outside and looking around - he was never immediately visible. I would call him and he would come strolling out from behind a tree, or shed, or the cubby-house.

I never questioned that. It never occurred to me to wonder where he'd come from, not once do I remember asking if he had anywhere else to be.

I was an odd little kid - too busy with my nose in a book, preferring the company of animals to human playmates. I was not socially well-equipped and was therefore very shy. I didn't have many friends and I did nothing to attract new ones or encourage existing ones. 

For me, Bobby was the perfect friend. He fitted easily into my world, expecting nothing of me, silent when required, active when required. His was the most precious type of friendship -  the one you treasure and the one you would not ever want to lose.

Or share. 

That’s how it was with Bobby, and the reason, I believed, no one else could see him.

You see, Bobby was also shy. I don’t know where he came from or how he ended up in my back yard, but children have an acceptance of things - and I, in particular, had a way of accepting things I didn't understand - they were an everyday part of my life.

I never questioned. I never said, “Howcome?” or “What’s going on?” And I never thought of tomorrow.  Bobby was there. That’s it. And he was my friend.

When I was growing up, if a friend was invited to stay for tea or you were invited to stay at a friend's, the rule was that the invitee's parent had to be telephoned to ensure permission to stay was granted.

My mother, as were my school friends' mums, was a stickler for the rule. Yet I remember, as clear as though it happened yesterday, asking Mum if Bobby could stay for tea, and the fleeting confusion as to why she said yes without the usual, "As long as you ring his Mum and she says it's alright."

Looking back now, I can still see her indulgent nod as she stirred something over the stove. Bobby did not stay for tea. My parents shared a smug smile over the dinner table that night, neither of them believed me when I explained that I had invited Bobby to stay but he said couldn't come into the house.

Bobby's inability was real and frustrating to me, but I knew why, without being able to explain why, he couldn't come inside.

I didn't question anything. It was simply the knowing.

Mum didn’t question either. She accepted that I had my friend. Although no one could see Bobby but me, I put it down to him being shy. Mum had her own thoughts. She assumed I was just a lonely little girl who had created her own friend, and years later, as an adult, she derived a lot of fun from reminding me, sometimes in front of others, of my imaginary friend.

Bobby was not my imagination's creation, and after an initial attempt to convince my parents of that fact, I gave up.

I can still see him in my mind's eye. Bobby had blonde hair, blue eyes and always wore a red and white striped t-shirt with navy blue shorts. He wore leather sandals on his feet with no socks. We played chasey and hide and seek and he liked the swings we had in our back yard.

We didn’t talk a lot. We didn't need to talk. I knew all about Bobby - I hadn’t needed to ask and he hadn’t needed to tell. I just knew. And he knew I just knew.

There must have been a last time I saw Bobby but I don't recall it. There must have been a day when I went outside and he wasn’t there. I don't remember being upset about that - once again it was like I knew it was always going to be this way and I didn’t question it.

But Bobby was as real to me as living, breathing flesh, and looking back now I remember things about Bobby that I don’t remember him telling me.

And, I know now that he was not a living, breathing child – not at the time I knew him. But of course, I didn’t question that because children don’t.

You might remember my post from 16 January this year, in which I talked about my ghostly experiences. There were many, many nights, when as a child I would lay awake in my bed, terrified of the strangers in my room. 

Bobby was never among them. Bobby was in my back yard, but I do remember talking to him about these people. Interesting to note that he was also afraid of them. At the time, I just took that to mean he was siding with me as a mate - any people that were scary to me, were scary to him too!

These days, I have a better understanding of the spirit world; I could guess that Bobby was perhaps new to the spirit world, maybe a bit confused about his place in it? I'm no expert, as I say, it's just a guess.

What I can tell you about Bobby is that I know he had drowned. I saw it – not that I witnessed the event, but I saw it as if Bobby had shown me a picture of his body floating face down in a pond. I saw it impassively, gently accepting. 

He wasn't emotional about it, and neither was I. We both just knew it was all okay. 

Over the years, I've thought a lot about Bobby. Did he find his way? Where did he go? Is he still in that backyard where I grew up, playing with a little girl who left part of her spirit behind?

These days, as an adult, I see spirits, I have learnt to communicate with those who wish it, and I still know stuff I'm not meant to know ... 

So if you happen to catch me exchanging a glance with someone you can't see, or smiling at you as if to say, don't worry, your secret is safe with me, just smile back and know it's all good.

Until next week, try this little exercise:

Have a friend give you a photo of someone you've never met. Hold it in your hand, close your eyes and think about that person in the photo. See them with your other eyes. Hear them with your other ears, and wait for them to tell you their story.

Then share with your friend what you found out. You might be surprised - but don't be it's just the knowing! We all have it.

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