When I was younger, I was pretty attached to the idea that we are our physical reality, and nothing more. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust—we live and then die, and that’s that. We are a collection of cells, our consciousness is our brain. We are the body and nothing more.

I don’t think so anymore. Over the last decade and a half, I have had some really weird experiences, or amazing opportunities to rethink how I see the world. Here’s one of them.

In 2003 my kids and I moved into a new house. Pretty soon after moving in I began having nightmares, waking up in the middle of the night with the feeling that someone was watching me, that there was a man in my room. Sometimes it even felt like someone was sitting down on my bed. At that time my ex-husband would drop the kids off early in the morning before he went to work. I would often wake up during the night and go downstairs to the living room couch and sleep there till the kids got home, and the feeling of someone sitting down next to me happened on the couch as well.

I figured I was insecure about living alone. One day I was in the bookstore browsing the New Age section and I picked up a book by Rosemary Altea. She described exactly that feeling of someone sitting down on the bed, only in her story she didn’t think her mind was playing tricks. She knew that a “ghost” was there. I got chills! I was so freaked out I slept at a friend’s house, and when my boys were home I slept on the floor in their room. Fear is a terrible thing. I didn’t tell the kids what was happening, partly to save them from the fear and partly because it seems so crazy.

Jack and Sheila were long-timers in the neighborhood, as they had moved in when the homes were new. I asked them if anyone had ever died in my house. Being a good Irish-American pair they were interested to know why I asked, and they shared with me that the first homeowner had indeed died in the house. Back then, in the late ‘80s, their kids were teenagers and had babysat the couple’s infant while the mom and dad were dealing with his cancer. They remembered that everyone was surprised that the dad died so quickly, and the mom and baby moved away. Neither Jack nor Sheila could remember the guy’s name.

The Universe had my back and I got connected right away to a ghost-buster (I use that term lightly, but this woman really clears discarnate beings out of houses for a living). She came to my house and performed her ceremony: Reiki symbols, sage smudge, lavender mist, frankincense and myrrh filled the house and we waited for the ghost to show up. Soon enough, she told me that he had come to join us in the kitchen. She said he seemed confused, like he was doped up on morphine. He wondered why nobody could see him. He said his name was Jim.

We did a little ritual, guiding him up through the ceiling and toward the light. I just went with it. When the whole thing was over, and he was gone, and the ghost-buster was gone too, I thought “Well that was strange.”

The very next day, Jack and Sheila’s son was visiting them and we ran into each other outside. They asked me how things had gone, and the son asked, “Was it him?”

I answered with a question: “Was his name Jim?”

He nodded. “That was him. His name was Jim.”

You are so much more than what meets the eye.