Spirit of Spring

Spirit of Spring

Author: Ceru

It’s an odd time of year to share a ‘ghost’ story but springtime reminds me of an experience I’d like to share as the trees bud.

In the early spring of 2008, I was asked to housesit at the family home of a dear friend. They were going to leave for the week and visit grandparents some distance away and felt uncomfortable leaving the house and the dog alone for that long. I gladly accepted thinking it would be like a mini vacation, it ended up a disturbing job.

My first clues should have been the event of the week before when my friend (we will call him Jake for confidentiality) and I were watching a movie. The both of us heard glass shattering and I was sure the carnival glass his mother collected had fallen off of the shelf and broken in the computer room. When I checked, there was a pile of green iridescent shards in the floor, the neat pile should have struck me as odd but the only thing on my mind was his mother and how she might cut her feet if she got up. I walked around the jagged threats and woke his mom up to tell her about the incident and told her I’d clean it up. She got up to help me but when we returned to the spot all of the glass had simply vanished.

I stared blankly at the floor unsure of how to react. I’m sure you can imagine how insane I felt. Jake still sat on the couch. I told him what happened but he shrugged it off saying that maybe we heard it coming from outside but it still didn’t explain what I seen. I analyzed it and decided I seen the glass because I thought that it would be there.

Before Jake left with his family he said to me “If the dog wakes up and starts barking late at night just ignore her, she does that sometimes.” The comment should have been red flag number two but it never went up.

My first day in the house went well. Jake’s family had bought the house next door and started renovations (Now that I think about it I guess I was double house-sitting) . They were paying me to paint Jake’s room and do some cleaning which helped to pass the time. After a days worth of painting, I went back to the main house, peeled the paint cloths off and took a hot shower. By 8:00 p.m. my little girl was tired from playing and watching cartoons and dancing while mommy painted so I put her on a sleeping mat in Jake’s bedroom and sang her to sleep; I put myself to bed shortly after.

At 2:15 a.m., I woke up hearing my little girl wondering through the house. The sleepwalking wasn’t unusual and two-year-olds have a reputation of waking at random hours looking for ‘momma’. So I wondered into the dark living room and called out to her. I heard her little feet running. I followed them into the kitchen and called for her to come to me. Then there was laughter aS she managed to get around me and head to where the kids slept. I followed again and told her to come to mommy. The pitter-pattering of feet were then suddenly on the other side of the house. Without a doubt, fear struck me. I thought to myself she couldn’t move that fast.

In a dire attempt to check my sanity, I ran back to Jake’s bedroom and crawled around on the floor looking for my daughter. She had simply pushed herself into the doorway of the closet; she had been there the entire time. Fear struck me again. What had I been chasing? I feel asleep beside her, asking my guardians to protect and shield us.

Morning came and so did a visit to Nanna’s house. I took my little girl to stay with family while I finished housesitting. I returned with the intention of discovering what exactly was going on in the house. I wasn’t disappointed. The second day went completely normal. There were no disturbances in the house but I found it hard to sleep and woke every few hours.

At 2:22 a.m. the next morning, the dog growled under the blankets. In fact she didn’t just growl she came completely unraveled jumping from beneath the blankets, and her hair stood on end. My first thought was someone was trying to break into the house (as I’d been through that before and I wasn’t too far off) . I checked the doors and windows, and in the stillness of a dark room, I listened but by this time all was quiet -including the dog.

Approximately an hour later, it was a repeat experience but I didn’t bother checking entrances. The ‘logic’ was thrown out the window and I did what I should have done in the first place: I followed my intuition and followed the dog.

Growling and dashing here and there, she steered me through the kitchen to the doorway that led to the computer room (the same room where the broken glass was piled) and there in the door way was a looming, smoky shadow. The dog was growling at it ferociously. It felt angry and towering and it communicated with me both through the pain in my stomach and striking mental images that didn’t make bit of sense to me immediately.

In my mind I saw the house next door and the yard. The focus was the work being done to the property. I didn’t sleep at all for the rest of the morning but with coming light and a few cups of coffee, I managed. The smoky figure had dissipated from my vision but I still felt its presence. When the sun came up I took my cup of coffee and in bare feet and walked to the house next door. The presence didn’t seem to be anywhere in the house.

I exited through the back door and started to walk the property; the visions returned to me. An extremely large hole had been dug on the property and Jake’s parents were filling it with trash they had found in a storage shed that they intended to demolish. Several trees had been completely pulled up and one tree, a walnut tree and the largest on the property had been terribly burned on one side from the burning of the trash.

My stomach ached standing before this tree and I found myself very upset as tears started streaming down my face. Without any words, it had told me. I could see that this spirit was trying to get the attention of Jake’s family for some time and they ignored it. When it realized I could sense it, it lashed out desperately this is what I could hear and feel.

I left but returned later with small tokens, water, milk, honey, silver and energy for healing. I promised to tell the family what I had learned.

The spring time is the awakening of the plants, nay, for the very earth itself. It is said that the Morrigan wakes them by striking them at Imbolc but perhaps the next time we carelessly pull up a plant or knock over nature in any form we might consider those beings who are a living part of their physical element and treat them as we would a deer slain for food, with respect, an offering and a prayer.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Always At My Back

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Always at My Back

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad

BY: Wendy Walker

What a child doesn’t receive he can seldom later give.
~P.D. James,
Time to Be in Earnest

My relationship with my father is complicated. It always has been. We are alike in many ways and this only adds to the complications. But there was one time when it was simple, when I was just a daughter and he a father, and it is this one time that I remember with great affection.

I was in college, probably my freshman year. I attended school only two hours away from my parents’ house, so I came home every break I got to see friends from high school, or to sleep and eat free groceries. Occasionally, I brought friends with me. It was a great place to escape the many pressures of college and growing up, and to be someone’s child again.

On one break, I came home early to catch up with my best friend from high school. My mother’s sister was visiting, so I camped out in the basement bedroom — which was just fine by me because it made for easy entry in the early morning hours. My friend’s mother took us to a movie and we made it an early night. The house was dark when I came home, but David Letterman was still on. I watched some TV and then went to bed myself.

A few hours later, I woke up with a horrible pain in my gut. I didn’t know this at the time, but it was similar to labor contractions — only it didn’t come and go in waves of torment. The torment was constant. I tried to get comfortable and fall back asleep, but that wasn’t happening. So, clutching the walls as I walked, I made my way up two flights of stairs to the bathroom medicine chest. I scoured the shelves for anything that might help — antacids, Tylenol, Motrin. My aunt, who was sleeping in the next room, heard the commotion and came out to see what was going on. She had been a drug counselor at one time in her life, and had keen hearing for roaming teenagers. By the time she found me, I was doubled over and getting dizzy. She rushed down the hall to my parents’ bedroom, and by the time they arrived, I had passed out on the floor.

I woke up in the nearest bed with all three of them around me. They immediately began questioning me. Where had I been? What had I done? What had I eaten? Did I take any drugs (that one from my aunt)? The answer was, simply, movie and popcorn. They checked for signs of appendicitis and gave me some Motrin. I can’t remember whether I fell asleep again or just waited out the night, but in the morning the pain was still there, full on.

My father was dressed for work, but he called in to say he would be late, then bundled me in the car and drove me to the emergency room at one of the local hospitals. It was the usual scene — crowded, chaotic and filled with the distinctive feeling that comes from being at the mercy of a headless bureaucratic machine. We checked in and sat in the chairs waiting for our turn. The one thing about my father that is easy to understand is that he has never been a patient man, and this is especially true when someone he loves is suffering. I was far too distracted by my own pain to notice it then, but his patience was depleting as the minutes, then hours ticked by.

We made it, finally, to an exam room and that’s where the waiting really began. Seeing that I needed observation, the first doctor came, then quickly left us in a line for admission to a regular room. Only the line was very long. Four hours passed. My father came and went from the room as I lay there in fetal position, breathing through the pain and freezing cold with only a hospital sheet and my father’s coat to cover me. Out of everything that day, the pain in my gut, the eventual needle sticks and IVs, it’s the cold in that room that I remember most vividly. Eventually, I began to shiver and my lips started to turn purple. I needed to be admitted, and soon.

Typically, my father’s lack of patience resulted in, let’s say, fervent advocacy. But not on this day. On this day, there was no arguing with nurses or yelling at desk clerks. Instead, my father asked someone if they were prepared to admit me that moment. When they couldn’t give him an answer, he simply grabbed the bag with my clothing, draped his coat around me, and carried me — out of the room, past the hospital staff that tried to stop him, through the security doors, the room with the chairs, out the front door and into his car.

With me dressed in a hospital gown and his overcoat, he drove to a second hospital, a second emergency room. He carried me again to the admitting desk and within an hour, I had been admitted to the hospital for observation. I stayed there for two days, at which point the pain was gone and written off as a stomach bug. But that’s not why I remember the story.

People who know me well know that I am no shrinking violet. Had I been capable of removing myself to a second hospital that day, there is no doubt that I would have done it and that my father would have encouraged me to do it myself, taking pride in having raised a strong, independent woman. But on that day, I was not a strong, independent woman. I was a child rendered helpless by pain. I was a daughter in need of protection. There was no one in the world I needed more than my father, and he was there.

It’s not often that people are put to a test. Indeed, it is precisely those rare times that make the headlines — heroic firefighters storming a building, pilots landing planes under extreme duress, bystanders pulling a stranger from the train tracks. I can’t imagine any comfort greater than knowing there is someone in your life who will never fail to have your back and do whatever is needed to protect you. I had that in my father.

I am a mother now, and I know what it feels like on the other side of that equation. I can feel it inside me, this likeness I have to my father. Some of it presents an ongoing struggle. Lack of patience probably tops that list. But I gladly take it all to have that one thing of his that I can bestow upon my own children. There are times when I can see it on their faces, this knowledge that I am strong, and that no matter what, I have their backs.

Chicken Soup for the Soul – The Long Road Home

Chicken Soup for the Soul

The Long Road Home

As I arrive home from college for the first time, I realize many things have changed—in my family and in myself.

BY: Lia Gay

I find myself packing again.  Well, let’s be completely honest, this isn’t really packing it’s shoving three weeks’ worth of dirty clothes into a suitcase and having my roommate sit on it so I can get it to close.

This time is different; this isn’t the same nostalgic trip down memory lane as when I packed before college.  This is the “night before my first trip home frantic pack.”  So you get the idea—my plane leaves in two hours, and no, college didn’t teach me to procrastinate.  I was experienced in that art long before I stepped onto my college campus.

So now that I’m packed, I have a minute to examine my emotions about my first trip home.  I’m excited.  My best friend, Matt, picks me up, groggy, for our 4:00 a.m. drive.  My expectations are that I am going home to what I left: my parents, home-cooked meals, friends with whom I shared distinctive bonds and my long-distance boyfriend, whom I have been dying to see.  I am happy at college, but a trip home, to my family and friends, sounds like just the thing I need to prepare me for the pre-finals crunch.

I think I will catch up on the missed hours of sleep on the plane.  Instead, I look around and realize that most of the exhausted passengers are students just like me.  Below us, in the cargo bin, sits a year’s worth of dirty laundry at least.
I miss my connecting flight, so I am later than expected.  I step off the plane to find my mom frantic, thinking I had been “abducted” on the trip home.  I look at her puzzled.  I guess in a mother’s eyes there is no logical explanation for being late, such as the obvious flight trouble.  I assure her that I am fine and that I don’t need to fly as an “unaccompanied minor” on the way back.
A few hours later, I’m back at the airport, waiting for my boyfriend’s arrival home.  He steps off the plane with the same groggy but excited look I wore hours before.  We drive over to see my dad, who seems calmer than my mother had been.  I ask to see my room, expecting to find my shrine, my old pompoms, prom pictures, candid photos of friends and dolls scattered about.  To my surprise, everything is gone; there’s not even a trace I had ever lived in the room.  I’m starting to wonder if I really had been abducted on the way home.  It’s as if the second I became a “college” student, I had ceased to exist.

I start to wonder what else had changed since I’d been gone.  My parents are in an awkward transition, wondering how to treat me now.  They wrestle with whether to treat me—still their daughter—as one of them, an adult, or as the child they feel they sent away months earlier.

I run into two of my best friends from high school; we stare blankly at each other.  We ask the simple questions and give simple, abrupt answers.  It’s as if we have nothing to say to each other.  I wonder how things have changed so much in such a small amount of time.  We used to laugh and promise that no matter how far away we were, our love for each other would never change.  Their interests don’t interest me anymore, and I find myself unable to relate my life to theirs.

I had been so excited to come home, but now I just look at it all and wonder: Is it me?

Why hadn’t the world stood still here while I was gone?  My room isn’t the same, my friends and I don’t share the same bond, and my parents don’t know how to treat me—or who I am, for that matter.

I get back to school feeling half-fulfilled, but not disappointed.  I sit up in my bed in my dorm room, surrounded by my pictures, dolls and mementos.  As I wonder what has happened, I realize that I can’t expect the world to stand still and move forward at the same time.  I can’t change and expect that things at home will stay the same.  I have to find comfort in what has changed and what is new; keep the memories, but live in the present.
A few weeks later, I’m packing again, this time for winter break.  My mom meets me at the curb.  I have come home accepting the changes, not only in my surroundings, but most of all in me.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Forever Changed

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Forever Changed

Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms

BY: Michelle Sedas

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.
~Rajneesh
 

On March 9, 2004, the day my first child was born, I became forever changed. As I held my newborn baby, I recalled a moment, nearly two years before, when I was hospitalized for a second time in my life for depression. As I stood waiting to be discharged, I vowed to get better, to never return physically or mentally to that place. It was on this day that I made a promise to myself to do whatever it took to overcome this debilitating illness so that I could one day be a depression-free new mom.

As I built my new life, I went to counseling, twice a week at first, and less frequently over time. I worked on my counseling exercises at home. I read uplifting books, exercised, ate well, and began to interact again socially with others. I started a new, part-time, low-stress job where I felt I was making a difference. Months later, to my delight, I became pregnant. And for nine months, in preparation for first-time motherhood, I continued to improve upon my mental state of mind.

Then the day came when my baby, Diego, was born. It was like a scene in a movie. The doctor set him upon my chest, and I looked in awe at this tiny creature who moments before had been nicely snuggled within my warm womb. I soaked up his essence, the tiny fingers and toes, the soft, damp skin, and something inside of me clicked. My old self faded away, and a new person emerged: “Michelle the Mother.” At that moment, I knew in my heart that those turbulent, depressed years were in the past. I was now a mother, responsible for taking care of a helpless, innocent baby, and I wholeheartedly accepted this job. My focus was now on providing the most wonderful environment I could for this precious one that God had entrusted into my care. I knew then that I would love this baby with all of my heart and soul, and that I would continue to keep my mind healthy so I could be the best mother possible for him.

As the days passed, I sang him made-up songs. Cheerfully, I woke up in the middle of the night to feed him. I gently rocked him when he cried (which was often!). I had fallen completely in love with my angel. Many of my family and friends saw the change within me. My mom said my face looked different. I “glowed.” “Michelle the Mother” was a title that suited me well. But as much as motherhood had changed me, and as happy as I felt, I knew that I was predisposed to postpartum depression. I vigilantly kept a check on my state of mind, doing whatever I could to stay healthy, allowing me to remain a depression-free new mom.

Becoming a new mother has proven to be the most positive, life-altering experience of my existence. While there are times when those clouds of depression still threaten to overwhelm me, my love for my children propels me forward. My two angels have rekindled my inner light and left me forever changed.