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Friday, August 26, 2011

Spirits & Storms

For most of my life, I never told a soul I could see ghosts. It seemed too much of a 'look at me' topic of conversation, and I already felt self-conscious about it as it was. When you're young, you desperately want to fit in, and claiming to see ghosts automatically pastes a freak label on your forehead.

Funny thing about getting older. You start to care less and less about perception and more about being true to yourself. I decided it was time to use some of my experience and put it into the books I write (with a shot of romance, of course).

That's one reason I wanted to write The Devil To Pay as part of a series. It'll give me a chance to explore how people die and my theories on the afterlife.

From time to time I'll tell a ghost story from my past here, but today I want to relate something that was told to me by a family member.

Several years ago, my brother-in-law died of cancer. He was a relatively strong young man and he probably lived longer than he wanted to considering the pain he had to endure. Greg and I didn't make it to his bedside when he died, but most of my family was there. 

In the moment when he passed, my brother, who was sitting in a chair next to my brother-in-law's bed, felt a strange sensation. It was as if a rush of wind had punched him. It was tangible and alive, striking him like a marble in a pinball machine.

Was that my brother-in-law's spirit moving on? I might've expressed doubt had it been another member of the family relating this story, but my brother is a down-to-earth sort of fellow. It startled him so much he had to tell someone.

Since my brother-in-law's death, other strange things had happened. Most noticeably from his toddler, who at the time didn't understand the concept of death. She claimed to see him every once in a while. For several months afterward, she often delivered cryptic messages that a three-year old couldn't possibly understand.

After the funeral, I sensed his presence in his den, but nowhere else. It gave me a chill knowing he was there, separate, yet among a house full of family and friends.

I had a feeling he wasn't ready to move on and it saddened me. I desperately wanted to know what he was feeling. I wanted to offer comfort and tell him that at least two of us still knew he was there.

He was a good guy and I know his family always came first. I'd like to think that was true even after he passed away.

I hadn't heard any more stories since his passing, so I hope he finally found peace and moved on.

Have you ever noticed something surreal after a death?

Wishing everyone on the eastern side of the US a safe weekend. Hope Irene doesn't give you a lot of grief.


Renee Miller said...

This is a long comment. I've always believed there was something other than "us" out there for various reasons, but until my friend bought her first house, I would never say that I was certain of it. But, I'll explain:

My oldest and dearest friend bought a house when my oldest was a baby. I say oldest and dearest because I want to express how well I know her and how much I know she does NOT, or did not believe in ghosts. Anyway, the first few months, nothing weird happened, but then odd things, like the sound of someone running down the cellar stairs, doors slamming, a child's giggle, blankets being whipped to the other side of the room in the middle of the night and televisions and radios turning on with the volume cranked started to occur at least once each week, if not more.

I didn't believe her at first. Then I went to stay with her when her husband was working midnights because she cried, and I love her so, that guilted me into agreeing to spend the night. She was not making it up. I think I stayed twice before refusing to do it again no matter how much she cried.

When her son was born, the activity became really noticeable. The dog wouldn't even enter the baby's room. We saw a man in that window more than once when we were outside looking up. We'd run inside and the crib would be messed up.

But that's not the weird part. She accepted that maybe the house had a ghost, but it hadn't hurt them, just messed around now and then. So she moved about 4 years ago, and sold the house to another good friend of mine. (small town) I was sworn to secrecy about the ghost, at least until the ink dried on the sale. Three months later, same friend told another friend that she keeps seeing a man in the window of the upstairs bedroom. I still didn't say anything. Then she got a roommate, who slept in the room my other friend's son slept in. She managed a week in there and now sleeps downstairs on the couch because she can't sleep with her blankets flying off and the radio turning on at all hours.

I think that we can't say for sure that they don't exist. The man still appears in that window and more than a few people (who don't know about him beforehand) have mentioned it. One of the current resident's friends actually called her at work, asking if anyone was home because there was a guy upstairs. She was going to call the cops.

Another more unsettling experience is Kennedy's (my youngest) obsession with death and dying. She says cryptic things, and has since she could talk, about this person or that and is genuinely upset. It's worse at night, when she talks in her sleep. I don't tell anyone here about that, because it would upset them, but Kurt and I get creeped out by it. It's not ghosts I don't like, it's that she seems to sense way too much and her little comments have proven true once or twice.

Maria Zannini said...

Renee: I feel for your youngest. My mother still tells stories of the things I used to say when I was three. The ghosts were actually my earliest memory.

As for the man in the window--that would freak me out. I don't mind seeing them so much, but I would totally go commando on them if they came near my child. Some things I consider off limits--even to ghosts.

In many cases, you can send them away. I managed it at least once.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Darke Conteur said...

Children are sensitive because they're not told that what they're seeing is spirits. Most parents think it's just they're imagination and let them play. It's all a 'right-side brain activity'. They start to lose it when they go to school and develop the left side (logical) of the brain.

We have spirits follow us around. It's family so I don't mind. The house we live in now is old, and the land is even older. I sometimes wonder if my 'family' and the spirits on this land ever mingle.

When Sithboy was a baby, someone used to make him laugh when he was in his crib at night. One of those real hearty baby-laughs. Both my Grandfather and Husband's Grandfather were known jokers and I always wondered who it was.

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: It's nice to think that our loved ones check back with us. Nicer still that your baby got to know him. It's a shame most of us lose that ability when we get older.

DRC said...

Ahh...Ilove reading stories about the paranormal. I'm a big believer. The house I live in at the moment is over 300 years old, and the village itself is mentioned in the Doomsday book (not forgetting the whipping post outside) We've had a few things happen since living here, but they don't really creep me out. I don't feel threatened, more like we have an agreement that we're both aware of each other's presence :)

One thing that I will try and get my hands on is a holiday video from when I was 10 (Good ol' VHS) We went to a wax works museum on the Isle of Wright (UK) and when we got home and played the video we saw a face of what looked like a Victorian woman. She only lasted a second - but that was

Maria Zannini said...

DRC: Old homes have the best ghosts. There are a lot of memories embedded in certain places. I agree, it's 'live' and let live agreement.

Cate Masters said...

You gave me goosebumps! I always wished I could see spirits. My sister dreamed of my mom after she passed. My dad before his death saw his recently passed brother, and that was comforting to me. On opposite ends of the US, they used to call each other every day and tell jokes and stories of their childhood, and my dad missed it after his brother died.
It's funny you mention about the wind. The day after 9/11, I was struck by the constant winds, and it occurred to me it was all the restless souls who'd been forced to pass before their time. Maybe it wasn't such a crazy notion after all.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

these comments are awesome! I could spend all day reading about people's experiences. Nothing even close to any of that has ever happened to me or anyone in my family. Though my good friend is house-sitting/living in a house that appears to have activity. Fuacets turning on full by themselves, Tvs turning on and off, doors opening and closing. All that fun stuff

jackie b central texas said...

Having lived in an old Victorian era house growing up from age 6 to 19 it surprised me that there were no apparent "presences" in the house. I have been a lover of a good ghost story since small but guess my logical mind does not allow me to be "aware" of anything but tangible beings and things that I can touch. Too bad as it would be nice to know that my family members who have passed on were at peace.

Maria you are not a freak, not sure if you are blessed or cursed with your ability but if it helps with crafting your writing I would say it is more of a good thing to have than a bad one.

Maria Zannini said...

Cate: The wind was new to me, but then I'd never been present at the very moment of death.

Sarah: The doors opening and closing were a great source of drama at my house. LOL.

Jackie: I'm not sure whether to call myself blessed or cursed either. Sometimes it's damn inconvenient.

Krista D. Ball said...

I predict things, including people getting murdered. After the prediction that involved a friend being beaten and killed and it actually happening to her, I don't speak aloud any predictions now. I also try to forget them as soon as they come.

But I get them. Myself. Others. Sometimes for stupid things. Sometimes major things. I just close my eyes and tell myself that my writer's brain is working overtime.

Maria Zannini said...

Krista: Promise me you'll write me should I ever appear in any of your premonitions. :)

Krista D. Ball said...

I believe emailing counts as speaking aloud :p

Angela Felsted said...

I know a number of sane people who have had these kind of experiences. Ironically, I'm grateful that I never have, because with all the mental illness in my family, how would I know if it's real or my mind going bad?

prerna pickett said...

I definitely believe in ghosts, or spirits, or whatever you want to call them. We are NOT alone. I just wanted to stop by and introduce myelf, I'm in your campaign group!

Maria Zannini said...

Krista: At least tell me if I'm about to get mugged so I can sic the rottweiler on him.:)

Angela: LOL! Good point.

Prerna: Welcome! As soon as I get my chores done for the week, I'll stop by.

Myne Whitman said...

Just coming over to say hi from the campaign. Your cover is lovely!

Angela Brown said...

I wish I could say I didn't believe in ghosts or spirits, but my little one has said a few things a time or two that just couldn't be dismissed as child's play.

Plus, for a short time after my mother passed, things happened in our home.

I can't say I envy those who can see them. It doesn't make a person a freak in my eyes, but it must take some getting used to.

Kay Theodoratus said...

We lived in an old house when I was very young, and I was always talking to Jerome. My mom called him my imaginary friend. But I remember going and getting my sweater when I played with him.

He short of disappeared when I went to kindergarten.

Claire Robyns said...

One of my best school friend's mom always told us about how her mother used to come to her just as she was falling asleep, the ghost would just sit on the bed beside her and hold her hand until she fell asleep. This went on for years and for no rhyme or reason, the ghost of her mother just stopped appearing one day.
I definitely believe in the spirit world, but I'm kinda glad I can't see it :)

Maria Zannini said...

Myne: Thank you and nice to meet you. I'll be making my rounds soon myself.

Angela: To be honest, I was never happy about the gift. It is a bit of a burden at times.

Kay: I wonder if you've ever considered hypnosis to see if you can remember more about Jerome. It would be fascinating to know more.

Claire: I know quite a few people who would have loved to have their parents with them in spirit. It's a nice thought.

Stacy said...

These stories are all so amazing. I've never had that ability, but when my grandmother was dying several years ago, my sister, my cousin and I were all by her side. Two days before she passed, my cousin took me aside and said "She's gone." I didn't know what he meant but as he started to explain to me that he knew that her spirit had already passed and left, my sister came over and said that she'd known the same thing! They compared notes and both had "felt her leave" at exactly the same moment earlier that afternoon. I must be less sensitive because I had no sense of that, but they were so sure and had felt it completely independently, that I knew it must be true.

Heather said...

Maria, I'm a fellow campaigner and a true believer in the possibility of seeing daughter sees them sometimes. My best friend died when my daughter was 4 and had experiences similar to what you describe in your post - it is both a gift and a curse for her.

I think it is amazing that you write about your experiences and look forward to reading more stories like gives me some validation that my daughter is NOT crazy.

Thanks for this...

Lady Gwen said...

Hey, I'm a new follower and fellow campaigner, just stopping to say, "hi!" I believe in ghosts/spirits/afterlife. I've had a lot of strange happenings to make me believe. Thanks for the story :)

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: I love your story. It reinforces what I've heard from other people too.

Heather: Welcome! It's a little tough when you see stuff like that. I'm glad your daughter has you to support her.

Lady Gwen: Nice to meet you! I'm going to try and visit everyone this weekend as soon as the evil freelance job is done. :)

Doreen said...

I never talk much about seeing ghosts or seeing in general...
I am a fellow campaigner stopping by to say hello.
Trying to get all my visiting in before Irene's visit and the possibility of losing power:)

Giora said...

I didn't see ghosts, maybe because I'm not capable to view them. But if you did and do, then share it. You also want to have a romance story, which made me thinking.
Can a living person have a romance with a ghost? Can two ghosts have a romance? maybe something to ponder about in your book.

Mike Keyton said...

Great post, and fantastic comments. I was especially struck by one line you wrote
After the funeral, I sensed his presence in his den, but nowhere else. It gave me a chill knowing he was there, separate, yet among a house full of family and friends. Really chilling.

I won't repeat my own experiences but there was one I haven't mentioned before - perhaps prompted by the above. We made the boyish mistake of having ouija sessions in the front room. The following day my mother, who hadn't been privy to this,experienced a change in the atmosphere immediately. Later, in the bedroom, I felt a presence behind me. A hair-rising presence, so strong I was scared to turn round. Instead, making a great effot to control myself I walked out the room, closing the door behind me. The day after that my father fell down some steps, and the day after that had stroke. All imagination and coincidence no doubt, but I've told my children if they ever dabble in ouija boards do it in somebody else's house : (

Maria Zannini said...

Doreen: Are you in the storm's path? Good luck. I hope it won't cause too much damage.

Giora: I often wonder if the idea of soul mates derive from being in love both in spirit and mortal flesh. It's a nice tangent to explore.

Mike: I am far too scared to ever try a ouija board. I won't even touch one. I hope the incident with your father was a coincidence. And I hope your kids never dabble--unless it was in the house of an arch enemy. ;-)

Hildie McQueen said...

My youngest daughter has the 'sight', since she was too little to know better she's been describing people and others she sees. It's an amazing ability and people have it for a reason. Love this post!! I'm a fellow campaigner in the Paranormal Romance group. I look forward to reading more of your blog!

Kimberly said...

I'm here to say hi from the Campaign. We are in the same Dystopian group.

I'm also very intrigued by your post (I'm really into the show Ghost Whisperer right now) and I love the cover.

Maria Zannini said...

Hildie: When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to whisper to my mother that I had been born with a gift. I didn't understand at the time what she meant, but maybe now I do.

Kimberly: Would you believe I've never seen the Ghost Whisperer. Maybe someday.

Nice to meet you both!