You’ll have to forgive me for discussing love a full four days after Valentine’s Day. The subject has been on my mind. Love is a powerful force. It makes us do stupid things like lose our minds, spend more money than we should, and forgo our own personal safety for the sake of seeing another person even if for a few minutes.
Love can also offer us fulfillment, better health, and the kind of joy reserved for the sappiest of love songs. We can all relate to love, whether the kind of love we get from our parents while we’re young, or the romantic love that’s the subject of Hollywood movies...
...but when love becomes an ingredient of a haunting… we have something memorable.
I thought about this while writing the most recent episode of my New England Legends podcast called: The Brokenhearted Ghost of Edgar Allan Poe. The story begins at the Providence Athenaeum in Rhode Island, where we’ve heard accounts of the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe. This begs us to go back in time and explore what happened in that building. It turns out that it was here that Poe courted poet Sarah Helen Whitman over many a quaint volume of forgotten lore. It was here their words and hearts mixed. The two were to be engaged, and it was here that Whitman broke off the engagement because of a broken promise.
“What if?” is the most powerful question we can ever ask. It drove our ancient ancestors into new lands, it drove innovations from the wheel, to steam engines, to rocket ships to the moon. But it also makes us wonder what could have been. What if Hitler had never been born? What if my brother-in-law had gone to the doctor sooner? What if Edgar Allan Poe had married Sarah Whitman? Would Providence have been his adopted home town? Would he have produced twice the volume of incredible works of darkness and horror?
We’ll never know… and that haunts us.
Ghosts and hauntings are all about connections. If we feel no connection, we can’t experience them. We’ve all had broken hearts at some point, so when we walk through the Providence Athenaeum today, we can’t help but glance over at some of the alcoves and picture Edgar Allan Poe sitting there brokenhearted. We tune into that feeling, then to him. We connect. Some of us see more than just a place memory.
Undying love will do that.
The most common paranormal experience I hear about involves a loved one after they pass. The narrative that plays over and over is someone telling me about an experience where they lost someone close to them and then that loved one returns with some message of love and closure. I take comfort in each of those stories. That we can have that last goodbye.
Love is powerful indeed.