Mom and That Same Someone Behind Me

While exploring the “Upstairs Lair of the Boogeyman” as a kid, I almost died of fright when I heard a floorboard creak behind me, but found no one there when I finally turned to face them.

But it spooked me and ignited my belief that something unseen stands behind me.

My beautiful mom was diagnosed with behavioral-deviant frontotemporal degeneration (FTD) in 2012 but, before she was diagnosed and in the long period after her behavior had very much changed, she would also claim to see something behind me.

I’d never talked about my weird fear. So my mom’s sudden shift in attention confirmed something I’d secretly feared.

My mom, in her changed state, wouldn’t talk about what she saw or explain her action but, one minute she’d be looking at me, smiling, and then her eyes would narrow and she’d look past me to glare intensely at something behind me. Sometimes she would plainly say: “Evil” and point.

I’d laugh at her sudden shift because that’s how I cope and I’d playfully tell her to stop it because she was freaking me out.

And then I’d turn and… see nothing.

My mom began to believe a lot of things which weren’t true for a period of time as a heartbreaking component of her incurable illness.

But her seeing something behind me was something that sustained.

As her behavior continued to change and shift, she continued to, occasionally, look up to glare at something behind me which I could not see.

Eventually, I didn’t laugh it off. Instead, I became annoyed with it and told her to stop but I never felt she was lying.

Soon after, my mom was diagnosed for the wrong illness and became medicated and she stopped seeing things behind me. Years later, she was correctly diagnosed with a form of early stage dementia and put on comfort medication and given six months to live.

She lived for five additional years.

A year after the death of my mother, while living in the Pittsburgh rowhouse that felt so malevolently haunted, I took a photo of my reflection in the second floor hallway mirror.

And what my Pixel 3 captured was just weird.

I sent it out to a couple friends to see if they saw anything because it surprised me. One of my friends, Cory, then edited the photo to show what he saw. And you have to really STARE at this photo. After not seeing it for a year, I didn’t even see the face but then…

In the photo, I am standing in front of the mirror, and my two hands are holding my phone. The light burst is created by the camera flash.

Yet, over my shoulder, behind me, there seems to be a weird, unfriendly face and to the right, next to me, there looks to be an ornate gold crucifix suspended in the air.

But, hey, this photograph was taken in the house which had tiny black handprints running high up a basement wall and where I experienced my first and hopefully only experience with sleep paralysis.

I’d like to think my mom who died in June 2017 was photographed making some very dramatic Joan of Arc effort to protect me from the dark thing she always saw behind me.

Or maybe the camera just caught weird fragmented light and I was and am simply looking too hard.

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