Do You Believe – Ms. VanDyke Story

“My mom and I lived in England when I was younger, and my neighbor actually took his own life. We were really stressed and upset about this. He was a really good friend of mine because he had a daughter that was my age and we hung out, he was divorced and he wanted to know what it was like to have kids like that. Months later, I think about six months, I woke up in the middle of night and I heard him talking to me. My skin felt weird, my dog who never usually barked was snarling, and I could hear him talking to me and I just cried and kept saying ‘go away’ over and over.” Karen VanDyke said.

“The next day I told my mom that I had had the weirdest dream, she asked what it was and I told her that Randy [our neighbor] had come and visited me in my room. She looked and me in the face deadpan and said ‘That wasn’t a dream, he was in my room too. He wouldn’t talk to me, he said he had to leave.’”

VanDyke still experiences the unexplainable today, sometimes alone, sometimes with others. She told me how the lights and ceiling fans in her house will turn on randomly, her dogs will bark suddenly at things that aren’t there, and how she will occasionally feel phantom taps on her shoulders or arms.

She continued, saying “as kid I was afraid, now I feel like I’m used to it. I don’t really know where I believe on the spectrum because I’ve seen too much to believe that life really ends. It’s hard for me to believe that the essence of people just dissapears when they die. I don’t expect other people to believe, and I’m not trying to convince anyone that it happens, all I know is that I have experienced things that I can’t necessarily explain and other people have been around me when these things have happened.”

Every science teacher I pestered about the topic of the paranormal gave me the same sad, slightly pitying look. I don’t blame them, of course, I get it. What else is one to do when faced with an overly enthusiastic teenager asking them about their experiences with aliens and/or ghosts. The only one I could get something out of was Mark Lawrence, who did at first give me the regular “no” accompanied by the “you’re crazy” look, but then, after some talking, reluctantly admitted that there is some possibility of events beyond our human comprehension, ending firmly with “physics can explain everything.” Well Mr. Lawrence, I’ll take what I can get. I thanked him and left after that one, I didn’t want to push my luck.

A few weeks ago, I sat down with my friend and former Oyster River student Rachael Deptula. It was the time of night where nothing feels completely real. Rachael and I laid outside on the cold asphalt, looking up at the night sky. The world was silent except for the occasional rustle of leaves in the wind. As we sat under an old fleece blanket, lukewarm chai in our hands, we stared at the stars above us picturing visitors from another world landing in a magnificent display of flashing lights and fire. We looked to the distant forest and wondered what spirits were wandering about at this time of night, what they felt, what they wanted. We talked for hours about this, only pausing occasionally to peruse youtube for UFO footage, caught-on-camera ghost compilations and blurry dated videos of Bigfoot and the Mothman. Putting my tea down, I turned to her and said “Maybe we’re thinking about this the wrong way.”

After about two more hours of talking, we came to a conclusion more simple than either one of us had expected.

As humans, our perception of reality and time is so linear, it’s comparable to squinting through a small telescope that’s forever stuck looking in a single direction. At any time, we can perceive only what we are able to comprehend. Given this logic, there is probably so much more going on than we can ever hope to understand, and we can never fully make sense of our paranormal experiences for this reason. Nothing can ever fully be proved or disproved. There will always be something beyond your grasp, it’s your choice whether to try to interpret what you’ve experienced or deny it.

In a nutshell, we just don’t know.    

Do you believe?

Written By Lily Mangan