"Mama, are ghosts real?"
This question has been asked several times over the years.
The first few times it arose, I tried to give my child a response that would calm his fears and keep the nightmares at bay.
Now that he's older, I tell him truthfully, there have been times I have seen a few things that I can't explain.
"Like what?" he wants to know.
I still don't want to scare him so I don't tell him some of it.
Like how not long after we moved into our little cabin, Venus would randomly bark at something the rest of us couldn't see.
Or how one night, I saw something in the window that could not possibly be physical.
At the time, we had two male Schutzhund-trained German Shepherds; surely, if there had been a human on the other side of that window, one of them would have been aware of it.
Cole saw it, too, but he was only 16 months old so he doesn't remember it. But I do, and I remember how he whimpered and pointed and I kicked down the baby gate to get us both out of the room.
I can't explain what it was, but it was something.
And it scared me, because it didn't seem to be friendly like Casper.
"Dad, do you believe in ghosts?"
My husband doesn't always respond to this question.
But Cole is persistent.
Finally, he gets an answer but it's not the one he wants.
The questions fade away until the season of Halloween rolls around and I am excited to watch the quasi-scary movies and shows on TV.
I really can't handle stuff much scarier than "Hocus Pocus" and tell Cole this.
"Because you believe in ghosts, right? Is that why? You think it can happen?"
Knowing my little rational skeptic can sometimes still get a little bit scared, I say nothing.
"It's just a movie, but it did scare me the first time I saw it."
I don't know why, but it did.
"That's silly; why would it scare you? It's got people in it you like - that girl with three names and McGhee from NCIS."
I try to tell him that we never know what will scare us. Some movies don't phase me, others I can't watch when it's dark.
And we won't even get started on clowns. I had an inkling that clowns were evil long before "It" came out.
It was not something that I wanted to really continue to discuss. I spook easy.
Cole wasn't sure what he thought. Were they real? Fake? How can you explain the phenomenon? He wasn't so sure of all of this - how could we test it or measure it?
But then one morning, when Cole got up, he wanted to show me something on my phone.
I thought it was just going to be an adorable picture of Doodle and it was. There was the little chunk trying to jump over the back of the couch.
"Awww...look at Doodle. I probably have 400 pictures of that dog on there."
"No," Cole said, shaking his head, his voice wavering. "Look." He pointed in the back of the photo. "See that? What is that?"
I looked at the photo and saw a figure in the background.
"That looks like me hugging you."
He shook his head. "No...I was the one taking the picture. And that was not you. You were standing beside me when I took it."
"Are you sure?"
"Mama, I'm sure. That is...."
His voice trailed off. "What do you think it is?"
I wasn't sure.
I tried to rationalize it - could it be me? "Those are not your glasses - your glasses look nothing like that. And whatever she's holding or hugging looks to be too small for it to be me."
Was it maybe somehow a fluke that the pictures were transposed over another?
"I don't think so," Cole said.
I sent the picture to my laptop where I could blow it up bigger.
It was even scarier to see it in a larger form.
"Mama....I think that is a ghost," he said quietly.
I hated to admit it but I thought so too.
A ghostly presence here could explain a lot of things. Items that go missing to show up in odd places later; cabinets being opened that I knew I had closed. Cole even saw the dryer door open one day when no one was in there. And, one day a lamp in my office was on when we returned home when I knew full well I turned it off.
"What do we do? Do we need to send it to the light? Holy water - why don't we ever have holy water in this house?"
I tried to assuage his fears. "I think we are fine. There's nothing to be scared of."
I really wasn't sure.
I didn't know if this one was peaceful or why she was here. Was it really a ghost? It was making me start to wonder. Maybe I should start looking into some ghostbusting stuff, just to be safe.
I'd like to think I wasn't scared of no ghosts but to be honest, I kinda am.
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."