Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 17:30:41 -0800 (PST)

While stories of ghostly haunts such as wild castles and dark brooding houses are fun to read, it is nice to know that sometimes the spirit world can be here with us to comfort or protect. I have two stories that reflect that ghostly visits are not always frightening. My best friend Nina’s younger brother was killed in an automobile accident. Nina was in her early 20s and pregnant with her second baby at the time. Jeff, her brother, was only 16, the only sober one in the car, and the only one who died. It was devastating for the whole family and particularly hard on Nina’s mother.

Since Nina’s first pregnancy was not an easy one, her husband, Joe, was very worried that the stress of her brother’s death and taking care of her mom was going to be too much for Nina. One night he insisted that they go to bed early and as usual Nina started crying. She fell asleep with Joe holding her in his arms, and not wanting to wake her he fell asleep that way too.

Shortly after 2 a.m., he woke suddenly, Nina still sleeping in his arms, and at first he was sure he was still asleep and dreaming. There at the foot of the bed was a swirling, yellowish fog that seemed to shimmer with its own light. As he stared at it, he could see a form start to take shape in the middle of it. Little by little, the form assumed more details and he could see without mistake Jeff’s face and shoulders appear and hover at the foot of the bed. There was a soft smile on Jeff’s face as he looked directly at Nina sleeping in Joe’s arms. Then he looked at Joe with a sad smile and raised his hand and pointed to Nina. “Tell her I’m okay,” he said. And then he seemed to wait for Joe’s acknowledgement. Finally, realizing this, Joe nodded and Jeff smiled again and quickly disappeared.

The second story is a quicker one, but just as comforting. My mom was a huge coffee drinker. Loved it. And firmly believed in having a pot going night and day. She died two days before Christmas in 1984 and the following February my husband and I and our two young daughters drove to Sanibel Island in Florida for a badly needed vacation. We had never been to this part of Florida, and the trip turned out to be a lot longer than we expected.

We found ourselves on the newly completed and unlighted stretch of I-75. It was late–after 1 a.m.– I was driving and there were no other motorists on the road. My husband and the kids were asleep and I didn’t want to turn on the radio to keep myself awake, but I was terrified that I was falling asleep at the wheel. Suddenly, I started to smell coffee. It was very gradual at first, but then it grew stronger and stronger. My older daughter woke up about that time and asked if we could stop “at that restaurant” for something to eat. She smelled it too. But on that lonely stretch of highway there were no restaurants.

Unless the alligators were brewing up a few pots for themselves, I will always believe that it was my mom’s way of helping me keep my eyes open and my family safe that night. Sorry about sneaking two stories in. I just thought they should go together.

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