The following events are true, recorded to my best recollection.  I will only share the experiences of our family and the location will not be disclosed…this is our story:

Most ghost stories begin eerily.  Picture this:  A cozy, darkened room lit only by a crackling fire, wind whistling in the eaves as shadows flicker and dance upon the wall…cue the spooky music:

It was a dark and stormy night…

And so it was, when the moving van pulled up in front of our new home.  We were nearly four hours behind schedule, and had hoped to have arrived earlier in the afternoon.  Unfortunately, an unexpected visit to our local Urgent Medical Center resulted in a diagnosis of double pneumonia.  I was given a prescription for strong anti-biotics and told to go home and rest.

Rest?  Hardly possible.  We were moving.  And home?  Well…home was 240 miles away, waiting for us and all our worldly goods.  We packed…and packed…loaded…and loaded.  The adventure had begun.

Hours later we arrived, a tired family of nine and began emptying the moving van, in the dark and rain, on Spy Wednesday, March 2005.  It didn’t take long to find and set up the mattresses for the children, leaving some of the other items for the following day, when we would have to return the moving van.  Our good friends and next door neighbors had graciously prepared a meal for our family.   They were, quite literally next door…only a door separated us, as we were all living in their nearly  6000 square foot Greek Revival “mansion” that was divided into two large units, and one smaller unit, the former back kitchen or smokehouse, which had been transformed into a small two bedroom apartment).

It was through the generous offer of our dear friends that we had embarked upon this strange and wonderful adventure.  We had taken a tremendous leap of faith.  We left behind home and work and embraced the opportunity to live, work and learn amongst other faith-filled Catholics…something we’d not experienced in the community we’d lived in for nearly 19 years.  Three Catholic families resided within this large home:  one which had attended the Latin Mass in the past, another completely devoted to it and our family, who’d only just discovered its beauty.  Six adults, 11 children (which soon increased by two!), three separate dwellings but one unified purpose:  to live in communion with one another.  Not a commune, mind you, though we have often laughingly referred to it as our “Catholic commune” days, no…it was something more.  First and foremost, we shared Faith.  We also shared meals, liturgical celebrations, parties and BBQs.  We laughed together.  Cried together.  Prayed together.  We learned one another’s strengths and weaknesses.  We learned flexibility and cooperation.  It was a struggle.  There were ups and downs…highs and lows…but it was…beautiful.  And lasted for two years, when life changes and the threat of a job transfer for the home’s owners closed that chapter once and for all…

But I digress…you’ve come for a ghost story!  So sit down…and lean in close:

The house was a sea of boxes…with many hands to help, it didn’t take long for us to put things right, and settle in to day to day life.   Three uneventful days and nights passed.  We loved our home, the huge rooms and tremendously high ceilings and windows.  We enjoyed, even more, the beauty of that Holy Week.  It was precious, though two of our little ones were sick, no doubt thanks to Mom.  The following Monday, our friends next door were anxiously waiting the delivery of the rest of their household goods, which had been in storage for a couple months.  It was a blessing that we’d finished with our move, so that we could help them as much as they’d helped us.  We watched the seventy foot truck pull up…watched the movers come in, quickly assessing the three levels of stairs they’d need to traverse to place all of the furniture and boxes,  and we observed how carefully they worked to preserve surfaces…namely, they affixed a sticky plastic sheeting that protected all the carpet.  It was a very rainy March…and a very wise precaution, considering the sheer volume of boxes that would be coming in.

I must give you a mental picture of the house:  imagine, if you can, a large Federalist styled/Greek Revival manse built over 170 years ago.  Columns in the front, a large imposing entryway, with a door on the left, which opened into our side of the house:  huge formal livingroom with built in cabinets and bookcases, a large dining room, kitchen and bath.  Upstairs:  two enormous bedrooms, one opening into the other, a back hall and additional bathroom.  The bedroom at the top of the stairs belonged to the boys.  The bedroom beyond it, to my husband and our two very little girls, both hardly more than babies.  Another door lead from our bedroom to a small hallway which contained two additional doors.  One door lead to the other side of the house, where our daughter, Meredith, had her own room.  The other door lead to a cloak room, which was at the very center of the upstairs potion of the house.  It was the hope of all the residents that the room would be converted to a chapel.  It had remained mostly empty, until the movers arrived and decided it would be the perfect storage unit for the enormous book collection of the other tenants.   So the room was filled, from top to bottom, with boxes of books.

I’m not quite sure when this “revelation” took place, but it was certainly before we noticed anything “odd” occurring.  One of the neighbors came over and made an introduction, immediately noticing that the home’s owner was pregnant.  My friend explained that the baby would be born at home and the neighbor was delighted.  It seemed the home had belonged, at one time, to a physician and on more than one occasion a young lady had given birth in the upstairs room, now the cloak room.

But…

It was also rumored that some other things took place in that room, as well.  Abortion.  How horrible!!  Still, we could rejoice that the laughter of children and the cries of a new baby would soon dispel any of the more unsavory aspect of the house’s history.  Joy would replace sorrow…Life would replace death…

We worked on.

To help my friends, I took over preparing meals for the families for a few days.   My husband had returned to Kentucky to finish up some work around the home we still owned and to finish up the last couple of weeks he had left with his employer.  My friend’s husband was working late hours, so I left our door unlocked to allow him to sneak into the kitchen to grab dinner whenever he came home.  I kept a few Dr. Peppers on hand, too…a favorite amongst the adults…and the children, too, who weren’t allowed to have them, except as a special privilege…

…which is what led my son, Zachary, downstairs in the middle of the night.  The plan:  sneak a Dr. Pepper and watch a late night movie while the adults were sleeping.  And that’s what he did…

Flash forward:  a hysterical eleven year old boy, sobbing, shaking me awake.  I’d never, ever seen him so upset.  He is a total stoic…never sheds a tear and downplays every pain and suffering.  And yet, there he was…weeping…shaking…inarticulate.  I tried to calm him…his words…his words were a rush of fear and pain:

“Something’s down there!  Something’s down there!  Someone…I don’t know…it’s gone…it said my name…mom…it said my name!!”

To be continued…