It’s something that comes up in family stories. Knowing things before they happen. There’s a tale about my great uncle Wilf as a boy, getting a nasty cut on his neck and being taken home, only to find his mother (my great grandmother) stood on the corner with her back to the room saying ‘I’ve already seen it, take him away.’
On holiday in Cornwall with my mother, who was a child at the time, my grandmother had the sense that she needed to go home. Her father was dying, it turned out, and Great Grandmother had gone out into the garden and spoken to the sky, and asked her to come home.
Gran and I both had premonitions before my grandfather died – although he and Gran had separated a long time before. I knew the moment of his passing, felt the death but did not know who had died.
Mother, I think knew before Gran died. But a friend of mine died and I had no sense of it – there’s no pattern to these things. I dreamed that my Dad was looking for me with bad news and the following day he phoned to say that his mother was in hospital – she died there a few days later.
They aren’t reliable. Huge things pass me by, while I’ve had premonitions about small things like there being second had walking boots at a jumble sale, when I needed boots. Often, a feeling of impending death or doom is of no use at all, just a source of fear, because I don’t know what it pertains to.
Premonitions overlap a bit with empathy I think, having a sense of how things are with other people, and I can’t really pick the two apart. But sometimes they come out of nowhere, and I cannot explain them. My child seems to be touched in the same sort of way. He has feelings about things. He isn’t always right, but some of his predictions so far have been startling.