A Second Visit from my Ghost

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This is a really long post, but if you have the time to read it, I think it may give you goose bumps as it is merely a recount of actual events in my life and the connection back to my sad little ghost. I cried as I wrote this I pray she can rest in peace now.

Last night, lying in my bed waiting for sleep to envelop me, pictures ran through my mind like an out of control slide show. For half an hour, images flashed past me, not giving me the opportunity to grasp onto any, or to rest my weary mind. Perhaps it was the fever that was tainting my body, and I tried every sleeping position in vain to invite the tranquillity of a dream. Lying on my stomach, an image came to rest in my thoughts. She was familiar to me; a ghost that had made her presence known four years ago.

I had awoken from a deep slumber one night. The house was quiet, my partner asleep next to me. Not a noise came from the bedrooms of my 4 boys. My eyes were drawn to the hall just outside the door of my bedroom. At the end of the curtains that covered the windows looking down onto the front yard, the figure of a little girl was clearly in my sight. The cool rays of moonlight gave me an unmistakable view, but in my slumbered confusion I thought my eyes were surely playing tricks on me. I closed my eyes, testing my reality, but when I opened them again, she was still there.http://chanyeevon.blogspot.com.au/

Her face was turned away from me, her head bowed. From the slant of her shoulders and the bow in her neck, I could see that her head was in her hands. Quiet little shakes rocked her body and I knew that she was crying. Her dark, straight, hair fell to just between her shoulder blades and the moonlight behind silhouetted her, perhaps, 8 year old figure against the flimsy white nightgown that she wore.

I lay in bed and watched her for what seemed an age. I knew her to be a ghost and yet I didn’t have any fear. Strangely, I eventually fell asleep and awoke to the normal happy weekend sounds of noisy, happy boys. I hurriedly scribbled a note in my journal about my sad little visitor and went on with my day.

Two months later, almost to the day, the boys were with their Father for the weekend and my partner and I at dinner with friends. My mobile phone rang at about 11pm, a harsh sound piercing the laughter and company of good friends. Against my usual etiquette, I felt compelled to answer and put the phone to my ear. I heard the frantic shouting of our neighbour, “Is there anyone in the house? Are the children with you? It’s all up in flames!” I couldn’t even grasp what he was saying and had to ask him to repeat himself, however, once I understood, I assured him that the house was empty. This is the type of man heroes are made of. He was ready to brave the flames to rescue my family and even though the need didn’t exist, this took nothing away from the brave act he was on the verge of committing.

We drove the 10 minutes to our house in abject silence, knowing that our world had just been turned inside out. Driving up towards the T-intersection where we lived, we entered a world of chaos. Six fire engines lined our street, police, neighbours, reporters and flashing lights. The fire was under control and we apprehensively approached the Fire Chief to find out our state of affairs, and then sat on the curb in a daze for what seemed an eternity.

The back of the house, including the kitchen had been gutted and the fire had spread through the roof tainting all of our belongings. What the fire hadn’t destroyed, the water gushing from the 6 hoses had. We called my parents and asked if we could stay them. None of it seemed real and when I woke up the next morning it took some time for it all to register in my mind.

That was four years ago. We have recovered, none of us were hurt and thankfully, my photo albums were left untouched by the flames. Last night, when my mind rested on the same image of my little ghost, I took her by the hand and invited her into a dream. She showed me an old house, surrounded by orchards; the same place that our house used to be. She was working late at night around the home, stoking the cast iron kitchen stove and preparing a meal for her Father who was coming home late. Responsibilities far beyond her years.

She had allowed the fire to get too low whilst trying to settle her baby brother. Now realising the time, she shoved more kindling and coal in the fire hole and left the stove door open to help the flames take hold. Distracted by her desire to have her father’s dinner hot when he arrived, she leant over the stove to stir the pot.

Flames licked out of the stove and caught her flimsy night gown alight. Neither had she had a chance to fill the water pails from downstairs and within moments this darling of a girl was present in the most unimaginable nightmare of her life. Her screams of agony went unheard and she died in a rigour of pain on the floor by the stove.

Sadly, as the fire started to brightly burn, some of the kindling burnt away its balance, and fell to the floor. It smouldered for a while, before it worked its way into a frenzy; eventually taking hold of the house.

The father arrived home to find his two children dead and his life in ruins. His wife had died in childbirth 10 months earlier, and all that was precious to him was gone. He walked over to the barn with dull boot purpose, clutched his gun to his chin and blew his brains out.

In my dream, I saw the pain, grief and guilt etched on “my darling’s” beautiful face. I took her in my arms and carried her out to the lounge room of my new house, drew a chair close to the dying embers of the fire and cradled her in my arms. I gently rocked her with my hand supporting the back of her petite head; my fingers tangled in the strands of her soft hair. I whispered to her that it wasn’t her fault and she shouldn’t hold the responsibility for the tragedy of her baby brother and fathers’ lives in her heart. She wept – no sobbed, and I silently held her close. I stayed with her like that until she slept peacefully in my arms, her body relaxed and her mind at peace.

When I awoke in my bed this morning, I remembered the details of this dream with uncanny detail. Just before I sat down to write this account, I went to check my journal to find the date of our first encounter. I stared in disbelief; it was the 25th August 2008. Four years ago to the day.

I hope that I was able to help her find the peace she deserves.

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THE FALL OUT

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flikrIf I had known that I wasn’t the only cousin he had preyed on, I may have been able to say something. I don’t know. Who knows what he may have said to keep me quiet (and the others). I don’t remember. All I can say is that all of us were changed irreversibly by that trusted member of our family.
The first my parents knew of any of this was 30 years later. I was pregnant with my third son and a younger cousin was taking that bastard to court. It was a shock to me, when my father spoke quietly to me in the peace of his back garden about what was coming to light within the family. It was difficult for him to verbalise, I know this much, but he gently told me the allegations of my cousin. I was horrified, dismayed, appalled and sickened. However, his next question just completely surprised me. After he had told me some details, he said to me, “Your Aunt has said that she doesn’t believe any of these allegations but if she found that it had happened to you she could perhaps consider the possibility that this happened to your cousin”. I answered the question truthfully and respectfully as I could see the pain in my father’s posture (I didn’t dare look into his eyes). But my entire being was screaming in anger at the doubt surrounding my cousin’s accusation. Of course I knew it to be true. But even so, why would a woman at the age of 28 and no recent contact with this man suddenly decide to do this without good reason. Not for fun that’s for sure. Not for money, he had none. I’ll tell you why. The things he did to her were unspeakable and as a little girl, she wasn’t able to get away from it. He picked her up from school every day.

( Just feel I need to clarify that the “Uncle” concerned was NOT blood related)

GALLOPING FEET ON A LONELY ROAD

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His breath expelled in short rhythmic bursts, steam pouring from his nostrils into the cold and still night air. My legs wrapped around the saddle and my bare ankles feeling the warmth of his heaving sides. His neck was stretched out, reaching towards our destination; rising and falling with the pulse of his thundering hooves. The tail of my dressing gown along with the damp clods of earth flew out behind us as if we were shooting machine gun bullets at the devil behind us.

Nearing our family bridge, I imagined the age old sentry pine trees at the farm gate and the warm and inviting light coming from the century old homestead. My family would perhaps be sitting around the table with a fire blazing, playing cards, watching television or colouring with the oddments of pencils and crayons Granny kept in her chiffoniere draw. Granny herself would more than likely be knitting in her favourite chair. The wool trailing into a muddled basket and her gnarled and arthritic fingers in the shape that the knitting of jumpers, cardigans and dressing gowns for her 21 grandchildren had set them.

It’s not how it was though. This was the escape I conjured in my head whilst my Uncle molested me at his family home not far from the farm. His rank alcohol and cigarette-laced breath exhaled unapologetically in my face, his neck stretched out seeking and reaching for my affection, his sides heaving with desire and his careless, stumpy and grown-up fingers touching my innocent seven year old flesh. I left on my horse and flew like the wind every time he came to my room.

(I’m sorry this is a bit heavy for a first entry but I have only recently started to understand the impact this has had on my life. I also am very aware of the amount of women who have suffered similar circumstances as children. I believe that, as women, brothers, parents and friends we need to share and discuss these experiences more openly so that we can understand and better protect the little girls that are our future).

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