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A Child’s Connections

The individual who told the following story grew up in Vilnius, Lithuania before moving to San Francisco when she was about five years old.

 

“My older brother, when he was a toddler, he would walk around, well he would be walked in a stroller. Outside. On the avenue around our house. One day our nanny and my brother were walking and they went past some apartment buildings, and my brother started sobbing uncontrollably. He’s normally, or he was normally, like, a normal kid. Especially, at like, he was four during this. He would have temper tantrums if something happened but he wouldn’t burst out crying. So the nanny was really confused but she calmed him down… um. But he kept like pointing to this window in the apartment building. He was crying and screaming, but there was literally nothing there. So, she was like that was weird. But on their way back by the apartment he did it again, to the exact same window. She didn’t understand because there was nothing and no one there, but he was freaking out and he really desperately wanted to get away from the window and the building. And then she told my mom later that night and my mom got really freaked out because that morning in the newspaper she had read that someone had committed suicide from jumping out of a window in that apartment building. So, for whatever reason he felt some sort of presence that disturbed him, that the grown woman couldn’t feel.”

 

I asked if she believed in ghosts. She responded that she believed in spirits, but not in “ooooooh oooooh oooooooh” ghosts (she made this sounds while waving her arms beside her). She further offered that she believed that people had souls and spirits. I further questioned about growing up in Lithuania, if there were any cultural patterns of believing in what she believed in. She commented that especially around Christmas time they would, and still do, leave an empty chair with a plate of food at the table for all the people who have passed. They would also light candles to guide the spirits on their return to the family.

 

A factor of this story that stood out to me is the role of the child. The individual made an effort to explain that the kid felt something, some “presence” which the older adult nanny could not. This is a recurring case in many stories I have heard, ones where a younger child has some perceived connection with different things than adults do. Almost as if most of us grow out of this connection as our brains develop. Also notable is the concept of a lingering should after a suicide. As I have learned, ghosts are perceived most from those individuals who died in ways unnatural, such as a suicide. This element also holds consistent with many tales I have heard, yet they both came from a individual’s personal story. I find this blend of individual narrative and common themes quite interesting.

Folk Beliefs
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Death is Coming

The individual who recounted this story was fairly eager to tell it and had an extremely detailed recalling of these past events. Her family moved a lot when they were young, and this story took place when they moved from Connecticut to London following a job her father had been offered. The story took place as follows:

 

“ So.. when I was five I moved to London with my family. And we moved into a house, that was this cute little, quaint British house. Um.. and….. (sighs)… that was like a week after we moved there because at first, we had stayed in a hotel, but then we moved into this house and I had my own room. It was like the size of a closet, this tiny little room. It was like pink, with butterflies, and rainbows everywhere, as you might imagine (chuckling). And.. um… I loved it and I was really excited to be living there. But, something happened on my first night there. So.. while I was sleeping, I went to sleep normally, and then I woke up at midnight screaming and my parents ran into my room. They calmed me down, they had assumed I had a nightmare, so.. they put me back to sleep and I was totally fine. Um…. The next day it happened again, at midnight, and they came in and they were confused, you know. They didn’t know why I kept having these nightmares. So.. um.. They put me back to sleep and I was fine, always after I would wake up screaming maybe five minutes would go by and I would go back to sleep and be fine. So this went on for like a week and they were worried because, obviously, why is there five-year-old child waking up screaming. Um.. and.. so they asked me, ya know, what I was dreaming of and I would always say “Oh no, I wasn’t dreaming, I wasn’t asleep.” And they were like, “What?” So the next night they watched me fall asleep, I was sleeping, and then I would suddenly wake up and scream. So they were like, ”[her name] you were sleeping, [like] what were you dreaming of?” And I was insistent that I wasn’t sleeping but that I was um… talking to this lady who came into my room every night. And they were like.. I’m sorry, what? Who is coming into your room every night. (As she is telling this she is chuckling a little and closes her eyes often as if to remember more clearly) So I described her, I wasn’t afraid of her, I didn’t know like who she was. And I can like literally see her in my mind right now, I know exactly what she looks like. But… she was this like maybe 70 or 80 year old woman, but she like looked younger than  she was. She had like long grey hair and she was wrinkly, obviously. And… she would always come to me and sit on the edge of my bed and talk to me. Umm.. and.. uh.., this is a creep.., uh.. okay… She always every night like wouldn’t say anything, we would have conversations but she wouldn’t be speaking. Until she would say this one sentence, every day, every night, which was just “Death is coming.” Like, literally just that sentence. And I (laughing sigh), I remember  her saying this to me, but anyway so my parents were like okay, what, did you talk to this lady? And I was like, “Yah I don’t talk, but she always tells me, ya know, ‘death is coming’,” and they were like “Oh Shit,” like why is our five-year-old having these creepy dreams. But the really scary part was that it was quite literally always at midnight. Like my parents one night check it out, they like watch the clock change to midnight and I woke up screaming. So… they moved me to a different room, so, they like original guest room in our house, it became my new room. And I slept there every night and I was completely fine after that. Um… and they basically brushed it off as night terrors or something.. because that can have a constant time. Um… and that makes sense. But then the creepiest part is that my cousins and my aunt and uncle came to visit us and, um , so they wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel they stayed with us. And um… my cousins, I have three cousins, stayed in my old room. And at midnight my younger girl cousin woke up screaming and she told us that she saw this lady… which is so creepy!! So obviously then after that night they went and stayed in a hotel, um… No one else ever slept in that room again. Obviously it wasn’t enough to like make us move or anything. My mom to this day, like, thinks it some kind of weird creepy paranormal thing. My dad doesn’t believe that at all, he’s like “I don’t know, something weird, It’s just a coincidence they both had like a similar nightmare.” But it was just so creepy because at the time, that was probably three years later, so I was um.. like 8 or 9. Um… and right now I can still remember what she looks like, but my cousin described her and it was literally the same person. And I never, obviously, told her about it. So that is my story. “

 

After the individual told me her story, I asked what she thought it was. She said she doesn’t think there are ghosts that stick around and haunt you, but she believes in spirits that can linger in a location. That is what she identified this woman as. She said there is no other explanation than something paranormal, coincidence is too far-fetched. I also asked her about any history of the house that she knew of. She responded that it was an old house that had been built pre-WWII, and that the street had had bad damage from bombings during that period. Every couple of houses had been destroyed, but the one they lived in remained standing.

 

I find interesting in this story a couple of characteristics. The first of which was the time period of the recurring sightings of the old woman, always at midnight. This, as I have learned, can be described as a liminal time period, directly between two days, not truly belonging to either the day before or the one after. Many ghosts appear in this time of day because of the odd boundary it may form with something that isn’t quite definable. Another aspect that is interesting is the history of the house. Dating back to a heavy period of war, there could have been a number of individuals who passed away in or around the house and had remained in connection to it.

[geolocation]