Thursday, November 6, 2008

She Never Left Them

Katia was raised in a poor family that resided in a small apartment in what was then Stalingrad. During the late 1980s when the fall of Soviet Communism left many poor families struggling to even put the basic foods on the dinner plate, it was almost impossible for those less fortunate to get medical attention when it was necessary.

Even when illnesses were life threatening only those with wealth or connections received adequate medical care. The ideals of equality no matter the social rank were ripped away by the harsh winds of reality when the USSR collapsed. It was a daily struggle to survive.

Katia was just a few days past her 11th birthday when she began to grow ill. There was a neighborhood doctor but he did little but give her parents the news that the tiny girl was gravely ill. The state run medical facility was packed and it would take weeks to get an appointment. Unfortunately by the time the specialists at the hospital saw her there was little hope, Katia had an aggressive form of Multiple Myeloma and the cancer of her blood claimed her life within two months of the first signs of illness.

They could not afford a burial space so her body was cremated and her ashes were placed in a homemade ceramic urn. The urn was placed in the center of the family room on a mantle next to a photo taken of her in while visiting the circus years before. Although the picture was older, it was the Katia that they remembered, always smiling and eyes sparkling with life. The mantle became a shrine of sorts as her mother would light a candle in the little girls remembrance every Saturday night and let it burn on through the evening into early Sunday morning. It was symbolic of her short life, a life that although was tragically brief her beautiful spirit outshone the darkness which encroached upon her.

It was not long after her death that Katia’s family found odd things happening in and around the family room that caused them consternation and gave rise to hopeful curiosity. First it was her photo. Twice the older picture of the young girl was found face down on the mantle and another picture too its place beside the urn. Although they were different photographs they both were of Katia at an older age. Although her parents loved the photo of her at a younger age, on more than one occasion the young girl had said she did not like it. For some reason she hated seeing pictures of herself smiling a broad smile that showed her teeth. To her family it seemed as if the spirit of the dead girl still hated that old photo and wanted to be remembered closer to the age at which she died.

About a month after she passed her brother and a friend were playing outside in an abandoned lot next to their apartment building. The lot previously held a Stalin era community building that had fallen into disrepair and had collapsed a few years before. Although the Government had cleaned up the lot they were not very efficient, hence there were a few ruins of rebar and concrete walls along with jagged pieces of nondescript metal protruding from the ground. Katia’s brother and his friend were playing soldier in the empty lot late in the afternoon. His friend was hiding somewhere in the ruins and Katia’s brother was climbing the half destroyed walls looking for him. As he scanned the horizon, something caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. There standing in the main window of his family’s apartment he saw his dead sister pressed against the glass and waving her arms frantically. He was startled and for a brief moment he felt it completely natural for his sister often watched the children play in the lot from the window. But then the realization of what he was seeing finally set in and dazed he stepped back from the edge of the ruined wall…just as it collapsed into the sharp metal beneath it. His attention turned from the apparition of his sister to the crumbled wall and pointed metal and when he looked back she had disappeared. His friend came running over after hearing the noise of the tumbling concrete and asked him if he was ok. He just nodded in amazement. For the realization soon overwhelmed him that if he had been standing where he was just a few moments before he could have been grievously hurt, if not killed by a fall into the sharp rusting metal.

His sister had saved his life.

From beyond the grave she had warned him.

Katia’s presence was often sensed by her father as well. Often he would fall asleep on the couch and when she was little she would snuggle up at his side and cover herself with one of his great arms. He would often wake in the middle of the night and find her there cuddled up next to him and he would pick her up and take her to bed. On more than one occasion after her death her father would be woken by the feeling of his arm moving or of a body lying next to him in the middle of the night. On one occasion her presence was so real he could not contain himself and he began to weep uncontrollably at the loss of his dear daughter. And he swears that he felt a little hand upon his cheek wiping away the tears.

It was as if she was telling him that even though she had passed, she was alright. And that she still loved him even into death.

Katia’s ethereal presence soon became a constant and reassuring part of the family life. Every week some odd paranormal experience would only confirm that Katia still resided with the family in their small three bedroom apartment. The events would increase on the holidays that the young girl cherished. On the Christmas following her death the lights on the tree would often turn on by themselves. A little music box that required winding up to play would inexplicably play every night on Christmas week at the time the family would retire to bed.

But the most amazing incident happened almost three years after her death. It was a very cold winter night and many people in the apartments could not afford the normal electric heating. So some improvised. In the small apartments there were fashioned all kinds of heating apparatus. Many had wood burning stoves that were fueled with old rotted pallets and pieces of discarded plywood. Oil burning stoves that were run on less than pure petroleum products.

It was a disaster waiting to happen.

On the second floor, almost directly under Katia’s family one of these makeshift heating appliances was left unattended during the evening and a fire quickly began to ravage the building. Many people lost their lives in the building but Katia’s family all escaped unscathed.

When the fire first started all of the doors in the apartment began to open and close very hard. The family was quickly roused and wondered why there was such a commotion. They of course attributed the phenomena to Katia, but had no idea to the what she was trying to communicate for the smoke had yet to permeate their apartment. But as they all stood in the family room wondering at the phenomena Katia’s father heard a faint but distinct whisper in his ear. “Run Papa!” It was then that they had began to notice the smell of smoke and they quickly ran outside into the hallway to see the smoke beginning to billow up the nearby staircase. They ran to the other side of the building and made their escape in a smoke free stairwell.

Katia had saved her family from certain death. But unfortunately during the confusion in the disaster they left the urn in the blaze.

There was no trace of it in the rubble. And the special phenomena that reassured Katia’s family stopped. Whether or not it was her spirit no longer able to lingering by her earthly remains or the destruction of the apartment that had been her home all her life, the ghost of Katia no longer was a real presence to her family.

They settled into a new apartment and the paranormal experiences did not follow. The family grieved a second time. But they were very grateful. Grateful for their lives, and grateful for a few wonderful moments where they were sure Katia was still with them.

Until Next Time,

Pastor Swope


Daniel said...

Pastor Swope,

Good story. I found it especially touching due to the fact that I have a young daughter.



Louann said...

What a sad yet beautiful story. I found you blog on Coast to Coast am and I am hooked. I can't wait for your next post.

Groo said...

Great story Pastor Swope.

Just wondering what your favorite Black Sabbath album is, Mine has to be Paranoid. The whole album has a "dark" feel to it. Really, most Ozzy led albums were pretty good in my opinion. Master of Reality and Technical Ecstasy are a couple of underrated gems.

You are 100% correct about some early Sabbath having spiritual lyrics. Read the lyrics to "After Forever" from Master of Reality for proof!

The story behind the name of Black Sabbath is one to remember though. Geezer Butler dabbling in witchcraft and seeing a "dark figure" type demonic spirit which was the dark shape mentioned in the lyrics to the song "Black Sabbath".

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the Comment Daniel,

And thanks for the compliment. Didn't get a post out due to some family issues, but hopefully getting back into swing!

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the Comment Louann,

Thank you!

cryptidsrus said...

Very touching story, Swope.

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the Comment Groo,

Master of Reality is my favorite, followed by Sabotage. Most of early Sabbath's lyrics is not an ode to Satan whenever they mention him but a warning against greed, pride and selfishness. Even 'Lord of this World' even though it describes satan as master of the earth it is because of the sinfulness of man and his rejection of God. Both Sabbath and Ozzy never focused on the devil specifically (and as a gimmick)until they split up in '79.

I always thought the band found the name Black Sabbath from the 1960s horror movie. ?

Debbie said...

Loved the story about Katia. It was very touching hope all is well in your family. I missed your posts.


Mojo Mom said...

Very sweet tale, today! We missed you!

Groo said...

You are correct about the actual name.This is how they actually decided to use the name from an interview:

Their namesake song Black Sabbath, in which Ozzy sings of a smiling Satan appearing as a black shape with eyes of fire, was taken from an actual, demonic visitation of Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler.

"Having borrowed a 16th century tome [book] of black magic from [Ozzy] Osbourne one afternoon, Butler awoke that night to find a black shape staring balefully at him from the foot of his bed. After a few frightening moments, the figure slowly vanished into thin air. . . I told Ozzy about it. It stuck in his mind, and when we started playing ‘Black Sabbath,’ he just came out with those lyrics. . . It had to come out, and it eventually did in that song – and then there was only one possible name for the band, really!’"
(Geezer Butler, Guitar World, July 2001, p. 67)

What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me. . .
Big black shape with eyes of fire. . .
Satan's sitting there, he's smiling
Watches those flames get higher and higher
Oh no, no, please God help me!. . .
Satan's coming 'round the bend
Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath

Sly said...

This story is very touching. For those who seek validation of life after death, this is a perfect example of how our loved ones go on to the next phase of life and are still able to watch over us, protecting us, and bringing comfort when we need it most.

Thank you Pastor Swope

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your post so much, now this one is for you, only it is true and not paranormal...that is yet!
Right here in Evanston Illinois, recently, cops found three bodies(two skeletal and one "decomposing")in one little old ladie's house.
Seems the sweet little old lady, who was last seen passing out candy to kids on Halloween had been hiding a terrible secret in her huge victorian house.
Her brother and two sisters had passed away, each about ten years after the other, and all three were found in thier respective rooms, carefully covered with a sheet or blanket. Police said no evidence of foul play. That means, of course, that the entire family concealed the death of the first one, and then each one helped conceal the deaths of one another until there was only her left.
Imagine living on and on with your siblings propped up in a chair rotting away. One wonders how they dealt with the stench of decay?
It is as if they could not let go of one another or refused to leave the house. I sure would not want to be the next one that place! Bizarre! I just know that place will be haunted!