He was handsome with a boyish charm and appeared to be in his early to mid-twenties. His hair was sandy blonde in color, thick and slightly wavy, and hung just above his shoulder. He wore faded jeans and a white tee. I was startled when he presented himself. He just stood looking at me, as if he belonged there. And, when I inhaled sharply at the sight of him, the fear likely showing on my face he disappeared, just vanished into thin air.
My husband and I had only lived in the apartment for a few weeks. We had recently relocated from North Carolina to the Seattle area. He was in the Army and was away on maneuvers when the spirit of the young man, likely close to my age when he died, first appeared on that rainy summer night. I had never seen a ghost before, and it frightened me. Not that the man seemed threatening in any way, but the idea of a ghost living in my home scared me. I wondered if that would be his only manifestation or if more were to come.
I got the answer the next night, when he showed up again in the bedroom, positioned at the foot of my bed, gazing my direction. I was reading at the time, and I didn’t know what to do, so I just stared back. But, after a minute I asked, “What do you want? Why are you here?”
He didn’t reply, although I think I half expected him to. He was just watching me. I soon grew frightened, and wondered if he would hurt me, could he hurt me. And, again just as my fear began to climb, he disappeared. I think I saw him smile at me, a kind smile, before he left.
The next morning I decided to head to the library. I wanted to look through old newspaper obituaries to see if I could locate his name and when he may have died. Based upon the cut of his jeans and style of hair, I didn’t think he had been dead more than five or ten years.
Using the library computers, I began to scan local deaths, starting with the most recent and working back. By afternoon, I had only gone back a few years. It seemed a lot of people died in the Seattle area, so I planned to return the next day. When I arrived home, a neighbor, an older woman was about to enter the unit next to ours.
“Excuse me, my name is Paige and my husband and I recently began living in unit C, right next door,” I was walking slowly toward the woman, and I turned and pointed toward our front door.
After introductions were completed and pleasantries exchanged, I asked her, “Do you know if a young man, about my age once lived there?”
“Well, I’ve only lived here five years, but I do remember a young man and woman that resided there several years ago. Very cute couple,” she had replied.
“Did the man have light colored hair, about this length?” and I had brought my hand along the top of my shirt collar.
“It was slightly darker in color than yours and I recollect it wasn’t very long.”
“Do you recall his name or know if anything happened to him?”
“I never met him, really. About four years ago an older woman and some movers came by and packed up the place. Not long after, a middle aged gentleman moved in and he only recently left. You know dear, you look very familiar,” she had pondered while looking intently at my face.
I had thanked her for her time and then headed back to our apartment.
If this was the man that visited me, I now had the approximate year of his departure. I was excited and couldn’t wait to get back to the library the next morning.
It was almost midnight and I was about to crawl into bed when he once again appeared. This time I didn’t get scared. I think learning a little about him from the woman next door had actually helped to lessen my fear. While I was not certain that this was the same man as the one she described, I felt it pointed in the right direction. After all, why would an older woman have been handling the transfer of his belongings if he had been alive and well at the time. I also contemplated about the girl that had lived with him and whether she had died, too.
I sat down on the bed and crossed my legs, one elbow resting on my right knee and my hand resting under my chin. Looking at him I said, “I’m trying to find out who you are.”
A minute later he disappeared.
The next day I located his name.
‘Chad Haines, 24, died April 1, 2002 after his motorcycle careened into a guardrail…’
Wow, I thought, he died on April Fools' Day. Wanting to know more, I searched for the article that detailed the accident. It turned out he was carrying his girlfriend Jessica Thompson on the back of his Hayabusa when it began raining. They were travelling in excess of eighty miles per hour when he lost control and hit the rail. He died instantly, and she was transported to a trauma center. I searched the obituaries for her name hoping to not find her listed. Disappointed, I found she had died several days later.
But, what jumped out at me was the photo included with her obituary. She looked like me. Her hair was long, straight, and blonde like mine, her features too were angled, and she appeared to be tall with a slender build like me. When I first saw the picture, for a few seconds, I actually thought I was looking at a picture of myself. This explained the look the older woman had given me. How uncanny, I thought, that I would be living in the same residence as a girl that had died who just happened to look exactly like me. I shivered.
And, I wondered if he realized I was not the same girl, not Jessica. Surely, he would know we weren’t one and the same, wouldn’t he? I wondered if he even understood she was dead, or for that matter that he was dead. Maybe he was looking for her and this is why he came back to their old apartment each night.
It saddened me that a moment of recklessness had claimed these two lives. And, I hoped that his soul was not lost, stuck here, earthbound. I asked myself, would he be able to move toward God, toward goodness.
I searched the library for books that discussed ghosts and what you should do if you had one dwelling in your home, but I discovered little that offered assistance. I remembered my aunt had quietly participated in mystic studies at one time. Her daughter, my younger cousin by four years and my best friend had worried about her mom’s endeavors and talked with me often about her concerns. I decided that I would telephone Aunt Kate the next day.
That night I actually got into bed early, with a book, waiting for Chad’s arrival. It was around ten when I looked up from reading and saw him. “I know how you died,” I told him. “Do you realize you are dead?”
No answer. He just looked at me.
“Jessica died, too,” I said just before he ebbed away.
“Aunt Kate, this is Paige,” I started. I hadn’t really believed in ghosts, at least not before I had one in my bedroom. I felt awkward even making the call and asking how to get rid of the one that visited my home each night.
She asked me when he had first appeared, what actions he displayed, and I shared the details I had learned about him and Jessica. She promised me the materials and instructions she would be sending overnight would be simple to perform.
I had expressed to her my concern about doing anything that went against my Catholic upbringing; I was really hinting that I didn’t believe in some of what she possibly practiced. She comprehended what I was getting at, and laughed. She told me that nothing she was forwarding would make me uncomfortable, it would be suited to my faith. She also instructed me to visit my church and obtain some holy water.
That night, I waited for his arrival. When he emerged, I simply said, “I’m getting some information that may help you. It should be here tomorrow. I’m hoping to help you progress to the next level.”
Chad faded away.
Attending mass always brought a sense of comfort and peace to me. Since I planned to get the holy water the next morning, I decided that I would attend the weekday mass, too. I was anxious about the arriving package, apprehensive about what would possibly be required of me. And, I wondered how he would react. I was afraid that he might get angry and try to lash out, even though Aunt Kate had assured me ghosts rarely caused harm. It seemed poltergeist were the ones that liked to cause a ‘big ruckus’ by throwing things.
When I returned home with the holy water, I began to clean the house as I awaited the delivery. It was a cool day and I opened the windows to allow the breeze to circulate throughout the apartment. When the doorbell sounded, I rushed to answer and saw the postman walking back toward his truck, the parcel lay on the door mat.
I brought it into the house, my hands shaking slightly as I began to tear it open. I pulled out a plastic bag filled with white crystals and labeled ‘sea salt’, a bag with a few sticks of incense labeled ‘frankincense’, seven small white candles, a bell, and a letter.
The items included in this packet represent the following: Salt has been used for centuries to purify. As you know from Catholic funeral masses incense was used to honor the deceased as well as being a symbol of prayers rising heavenward, and bells signify the soul’s transition from this world to the next.
I knew that holy water was a sign of our being one with Christ, and I often misted this around my home in order to bless all that entered. The letter continued,
Knowing you, your bedroom is already in perfect order, so I won’t tell you to clean first. If possible, open a window in the room (just a crack will be sufficient). Mist the area with holy water and then light one stick of incense. Now you will make a circle around the room by sprinkling the salt. Leave an area open by the window (think of it as a doorway, a way for Chad to exit). Light one candle and place it near where you have seen his spirit.
Gently say to him, “Chad, you’re dead and it’s time for you to move toward the light. You will be welcomed and helped if you will just go to the light. It is now time for you to leave this world.’
With confidence and love ring the bell and say to him, ‘You will be safe, they welcome you, move to the light.’ Repeat this two more times ringing the bell each time first. Ask the blessed mother Mary and her angels to be with him and guide him on his journey. End by stating the ‘Hail Mary’ prayer.
Leave the candle burning until you go to bed. Light another candle each night until all have been used. And Paige, while I know this will be a challenge for you do not vacuum the salt for one week.
I love you, and call me with any questions.
I felt relieved. This I could do, although in a bizarre kind of way I was beginning to look forward to his nightly visits.
He usually appeared between ten and midnight, so I began to prepare the area about a half hour before, and then I sat cross legged in the center of the bed anxiously waiting. One bedside lamp was all that lit the area and the candle flame softly flickered in the dimness. The smoke from the incense drifted toward the ceiling. It wasn’t long before he appeared.
I began to talk with him, repeating the words that Aunt Kate had forwarded, the words that I had rehearsed all afternoon. The bell toned deeply all three times, and as I prayed to Mary, he faded away.
For six more nights I lit the candles that were provided to me. When the last candle had been extinguished, I went to bed, and the following morning I cleared away the salt. I never saw Chad after the initial night of the ritual. Each Sunday at mass, I still light a candle for his soul. I pray his transition was peaceful.