A few years ago, I watched a young woman on tv discuss a rather harrowing personal experience with a spirit she believed to be her deceased former boyfriend. He was an especially horrific young man who beat her and frequently promised to “destroy her,” so regrettably, the only defense she could fathom was to spill his blood while he slept. There was a trial, and remarkably, the young lady emerged a free woman after little more than five years, only to face her tormentor’s ghost on an almost daily basis. I watched as “informed others” suggested it was the onus of murder that haunted her, and that only intense therapy could free such deeply rooted guilt. Still others suggested more time in prayer, Sunday Mass, or the fruitful service of others. I watched, with the millions, as her face broke down. The strain from this new life sentence of daily spiritual battle ripped at her being; persecution from beyond life itself. It was all too much to bear, and she sobbed. She gave in and was defeated.
This is not a particularly common tale, but it is one that touched me significantly, and I clearly remember promising that should I find myself face to face with someone like her, I would be there to help first and ask questions later. I would try somehow to be the difference, even if only by lending an understanding ear or a comforting shoulder. And then time passed and I forgot about her; about all of it, until very early this morning.
Unable to sleep, cigarette in hand, I found myself staring into the 4:00 a.m. freezing blackness of my yard – listening intently as something or someone moved slowly through the leaves closer and closer to my back steps. A fox, perhaps, or a deer? Unfortunately, my senses could only decipher that menacing sound and with it, the certain knowledge something was inching its way ever nearer. I decided this foe in the dark was a man – possibly a vagrant, or worse, some wandering specter of the night. I listened to it reach the bottom of the stairs and stop – the sound of approaching calamity giving way to the beat of my heart, but when the bottom step creaked, I ran. Locking the door behind me, I caught a glimpse of my face in the glass, and saw the same sad trepidation I noticed in that young woman’s eyes so many years before. And I remembered.
The facts of life are difficult enough without facing certain horror from something unknown. For me, the locked door was protection enough – real or imagined, but I wondered how it went for her. I wondered if she still endured attack after relentless revenge-filled attack; whether she is still hopelessly resigned to a life of desperate fright.
It took only twenty-five minutes to find her obituary – she “took her own life” on what was probably a warm summer night, and no mention was made of why. Or how. Only of her crime and sentence; of her parole just three years earlier. She was survived by no one, and I imagine whatever mourning there had been was long since over. So easily forgotten. For a moment or two I just sat there. I could almost see her – trapped in that solitary life, her only companion the tortuous spirit and his unforgiving taunts.
This is my 100th post in The Voices Blog, and I had planned a light-hearted entry about a few of the things I have learned these past months. There was to be some special appreciation for those of you who stop by so frequently; for those who comment; for all who suffer each new attempt at humor or meaning. Some other day perhaps – there is always time for such things. This is, however, a “paranormal” blog, and should represent my personal attempt to make occasional sense of an infinite unknown, so it seems more fitting to tell the story of the young lady on tv instead. Who, in spite of the disintegration of self, was somehow eloquent enough to touch my heart so elegantly. But someone should have helped her.
I am once again reminded of the promise I made that day in front of the tv. It is a good oath to take for those of us who do this work, and I hope I never forget it. I need to be reminded that sometimes things can go very very wrong, and when they do, real people are often in the way. And also, that the smallest choices in life are often prelude to the most difficult challenges, especially if no one is there to help. Help is, after all, the true calling of paranormal investigation. And in spite of all the electro-magnetic forces, infrared cameras, full-spectrum, EVP, and whatever else you can think of, nothing matters if the offer of help is missing.
That’s how I see it. You may disagree, and I accept and respect that. But I ask you… If not to help, then what?
Also visit Voices Unplugged at http://voicesblogunplugged.wordpress.com/
Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon
There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.