October 31, 2020

The Sweetest Haunting

We make our own ghosts.

Why haven’t they finished the ceiling?”

A few years before she passed away, I had taken my grandmother to a coffee shop. When I returned from the front with our drinks, I found her examining the ceiling. To her eyes, the North American habit of leaving the piping and industrial elements of a commercial space exposed was bizarre. Why couldn’t they finish the job and put in a proper ceiling?

Ever since she drew my attention to it, I’ve been noticing it too, remembering how the question made us laugh. It was such a beautiful moment. These days, that memory follows me through every coffee shop, artisanal retailer, and mall outlet I encounter.

When I was very young, she and I found ourselves in a park not far from home. It was mid-winter and the snow was deep and clean, still powdery and white under the morning sun. As I lay down to make a snow angel, I pointed to the sky and said, Look, a rainbow!”

It being a perfectly sunny day, she didn’t believe me. But I was adamant and, sure enough, there was indeed a rainbow in the sky. We watched it together and, even years later, we’d both remember that day whenever we saw a rainbow.

I still do.

Like the sweetest haunting, my grandmother finds ways to make me smile even now. And the best part is that I don’t have to wait for Halloween to encounter this most welcome of ghosts; she is by my side under every unfinished ceiling, every improbable rainbow.

We make our own ghosts, and while I can never share another day with my grandmother, I’m happy to haunt myself with the memory of our many wonderful moments together—on this and every other day.

Happy Halloween to you and your ghosts!


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