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.