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One Photo; One Story: One word...."Believe".

Can the spirts of an old house communicate with us? Maybe not in a direct way.

They won’t speak in a language we are used to. A nineteenth century spirit will not

directly say; “Mark, what you need is a good ghostly kick in the gob”. They are

more subtle than that.

Every house has its own rhythm. The creeks and moans are a signature to the age

and character of the place. A house as it becomes a home, absorbs the energy and

spirit of those who have lived there. Not all spirits remain, some do.

I lived in a house that had such spirits and they reacted to my energy during a time

when I was searching for my own inner peace. I moved in while I was at a

crossroad in my life. I was healing from a divorce and trying to reconcile in myself

who I was as a man and young father. I was engaged to a wonderful woman named

Kelly and had not yet put the past behind me. The storm within me took its toll.

We tried to make a home. I was not ready. We decided to move on.

What I needed was to be alone, to read, to heal, and figure out who I

was as a man, as a father and person. I wasn’t ready to

forgive myself for my journey through life thus far. I didn’t know me and I

didn’t love me yet. I needed to get there.

I found an old lake house tucked in between the Egg Harbor River and Lake


The house was a two- bedroom colonial built in 1830. It was perfect for

a single man who liked to fish and needed to figure things out.

The kitchen overlooked the yard and had a direct view of the dam that held

back Lake Lenape.

I saw this house as a way to repair myself and get to know my son.

On the day I moved in, Kelly helped me move some of my belongings.

Kelly never got more than a few steps into the house when she became

agitated and wanted to rush right out. I thought it was the emotion of our

relationship being final, but she told me she heard the house scream as if it

were in pain.

This I did not hear. Kelly turned pale and apologized and said “I have to get

out of here”. She did.

My son Devin had no such experiences with our old house. He just liked to

fish and do father and son things, like eat bad food, and watch movies and hang out.

He loved that I had no kitchen table and had ten to twelve

fishing poles in the kitchen with my tackle box. In the refrigerator we had all

kinds of bait, squid, worms, and bunker. We had a ball, we caught Crappie,

Perch, Pickerel, and Herring.

Every so often a family of Otters would greet

us on the river. They looked at us with curiosity as they played during high

tide near the dam at Lake Lenape. I saw my first Bald Eagle who hunted fish and

nested in the woods around Lake Lenape. Devin loved that house and so did I.

When Devin was away, I’d hear children’s voices, and

footsteps climbing the staircase. Several times a month they would climb to the top

of the staircase and stop.

Sleep paralysis was common during my years living there, I

would be semi-conscious unable to move.

This would be followed by feelings of impending doom or disaster. I

would also experience fear during these episodes, perhaps it was imaginary.

Mostly they were benevolent spirits who tried to communicate with me.

The house was lived in for 172 years before me. I believe many shadows and auras

had been absorbed by the place.

Many families enjoyed the lake and river all those years.

During my first summer there, I had a Fourth of July celebration that

coincided with fireworks on the lake. A coworker of mine recalled a

summer when her cousin drowned on Lake Lenape not far from the steps of

my door. She hadn’t recalled the memory for many years.

Kelly and I remained close during 2002. There were times we didn’t talk

for days. I thought we were still close friends but she had

made the decision to move on from our engagement and not hang onto something

lost. We were moving in separate directions. I began to feel the loss deeply.

One afternoon after a long spell, I called her to see

if she would go see a movie with me. She hesitated and said “No Thank

You” and politely declined. We spoke for a few short minutes and ended the

call. Something was different. Her voice had changed, and she seemed less

open to me as a person and friend. She called back a few moments later

and told me she was seeing someone else. I was devastated. My heart was

broken, not a school-boy broken heart but a deep soul wrenching loss.

I was unable to heal myself at all. It was obvious to my friends and family.

Somewhere deep in my soul Kelly was my partner and somewhere deep

inside me a flicker of hope and love remained. I waited and continued to

work on myself. I examined my life and took responsibility for it.

I began to heal.

Halloween 2003, a paranormalist came to my home. She was unable to use her

recorder or video camera within the walls of the house. Outside her husband caught

some ectoplasm on his camera which resembled a pained spirit, he felt the house had

energy. They did some research

and found stories about my house at 105 Mill Street. In the

nineteenth century there was an icehouse out back that would collect

and cut huge chunks of ice from the lake and sell it to the townspeople.

A part of that story said that at times dead bodies would be stored

while awaiting the coroner or funeral director. I am not sure how much

of this is true but there was some paranormal activity in my little house.

In the meantime, I kept finding my way to hope. I had many sleepless nights

and anxious days wondering if I would ever be with the love of my life again. I

learned to pray intensely. I spent many hours praying to heal, grow, and

praying that Kelly would want my friendship again. It was the intense prayer

of a broken heart ready to dive into full love, selfless and fulfilling. I got into

the habit of praying every day.

My broken heart wasn’t healing. One particular long night of tossing and

turning, visions, footsteps, and children playing, I got up to a lonely cold

house. I came down to the dining room which was my favorite part of the

house. I made a cup of coffee, sat down, and noticed my calculator light glowing.

I looked at the screen and read the word “Believe”. I don’t know too many

numbers that spell “Believe”, but it was right there in front of me. I double

checked my eyes, made sure I was awake, and read it again. “Believe.”

Several influences were likely present after 172 years. I “Believe” they are

there. I asked them to remain.

Kelly and I were married August 14, 2004. I believed always, I believe now,

and I believe in love. Thank you to my friends at 105 Mill Street for

suggesting it. They will always remain in my heart. I healed and grew into

a man, bonded with my son, and fell in love again. The message “Believe”

was heard loud and clear.


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