11/01/2019

Marie's Ghostly Forgiveness







Today we are pleased to present Arthur Wesley as our guest poster on the Paranormal/Supernatural topic.  Arthur is a regional claims director for a major insurance company in the USA. Born in Minneapolis, MN in 1965, Arthur and his wife, Sharon, are residents of a small town in Connecticut.  They have two daughters, ages 27 and 25. Both daughters are married and have children of their own now. In his spare time, Arthur is an enthusiastic handball player, having competed in many tournaments throughout his life.  Arthur enjoys sailing, golf and reading classical works in his den.  Both Arthur and Sharon are members of the Salvation Army.

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I've read and enjoyed many of the paranormal works on this blog over the years.  I am beyond happy it is making a comeback and with my own article of my paranormal experience as a young lad of 12 years of age.  This is my one and only encounter with what is considered paranormal.  It is not nearly as scary or horrific of some I have read on this subject Davids Musing.  But, the new owner of this blog must felt it deserved publishing and I am very appreciative of her giving me this chance.

We lived near a wilderness area known for its rapids, canoeing, camping, waterfalls, and the ever-present Lake Superior.  Talk about a remote, wilderness area, NE Minnesota is all you could ever ask for if you want to get away from it all.  There are lots of small towns up this way that offer a variety of arts and crafts and just anything tourists crave.  Of course, these things come at a stiff price.  They are known for gouging tourists like many tourist areas are known to do.  So, keep that in mind if you come up this way.  But, this story is not about tourism in Minnesota.  It's about a tragic event that took place when I was 12 years old and even to this day, it haunts me.

As a precocious 12-year-old, I lived near one of the thousands of lakes in Minnesota.  It was a small lake as lakes go in that state.  But, it was small enough and shallow enough that our parents didn't worry much about us going there without adult supervision.  That was a mistake as I look back on it.   It was a shallow lake that barely came up to my knees as a 12-year-old boy.  But, there were places in the middle of the lake that was over my head.  I was an only child and didn't have to worry about siblings.  But, there was one girl, 12 years of age also, who I did worry about.  And, to be honest, I had a crush on her.  In fact, she was the first crush of my life.  Her name was Marie Dowlinksi. She was the prototypical blonde who was physically and mentally mature at such a young age.  I wasn't the only guy who had a crush on Marie.  But, since we were both too young to date, we "hung out" together as much as we could.  Marie had a laugh and voice very similar to actress Demi Moore.  That masculine voice made her even more attractive to me.  Yes, many people call it puppy love.  But, to me, it was the real deal, it was real love.  The one thing Marie and I had in common, we were both poor swimmers.  That probably doesn't make sense since I went to that lake at least once a day in the summer.  I could probably swim to save my life if I didn't have to swim over a hundred yards.  But, I lost my stamina real quick in the water (I'm still a poor swimmer).  However, we usually had several friends along who were all good swimmers.  So, I didn't worry much about someone drowning.

It was a hot summer day in 1977, June of that year, to be exact.  There was a total of seven of us there that day in June, including my best friend, Bob.  Bob, for reasons I didn't understand at the time, was one of the few boys who wasn't smitten by Marie.  It wasn't until we were both 19 that Bob confessed to me he was gay.  I was totally shocked.  He always dated the prettiest girls.  He was the last guy I would have thought was gay.  I told him it made no difference in our friendship.  Bob would always be my best friend until his death from AIDS at the age of 37.  On this day, Bob who was a very good swimmer was trying to coax us into coming out to the middle of the lake where it was cooler and deeper.  Marie and I refused.  But, the others went out there with him.  I knew it was cooler out in the middle of the lake.  But, I could tell Marie was scared and didn't want to go.  For reasons I still am unable to understand, I tried to talk her into going out there with me.  I should not have done that.  As I said before, we were both poor swimmers.  I told Marie that Bob and the others would take care of us.  I got frustrated with her and decided to swim out to the middle where it was cooler....and deeper.  Marie hesitated and yelled "Arthur! Wait for me!."  I waited and we both swam out to the middle.  I was a little panicky since I knew we were in water at least 12 feet deep.  But, I tried not to show it so Marie would not get more scared than she already was.  We were just frolicking around on a warm June day when Marie screamed.  "Something bit me!" she said.  Thinking back on it, it was probably just a small green turtle that thought one of Marie's toes was a worm.  But, Marie panicked and started thrashing around like she had suddenly taken leave of her senses.  Bob and I grabbed her and tried to control her.  Have you ever tried to help someone that thought they were drowning?  They have superhuman strength, even little Marie, all 5'1 and 90lbs of her.  She moved Bob and me as if we were blades of grass.  I still tried to help her.  Everyone else, except Bob, started swimming back to shore.  Marie's screams of something bit me brought back the memories of the summer of 1975 when the movie "Jaws" came out.  Of course, there were no sharks in a freshwater lake.  But, commonsense goes out the window when you are in the water and someone screams that he or she was bitten.  Bob grabbed Marie around the waist and she unwittingly elbowed him in the stomach, knocking the breath out of him.  I again attempted to grab Marie and calm her.  She was having none of it.  She was thrashing about and she hit me so hard in the face I saw stars and was dazed.

Marie went down and Bob dived down to bring her back up.  She was still squirming and fighting for all she was worth.  I screamed at Marie to calm down and let us take her back to shore.  But, she was beyond reasoning now.  Marie was someone else now....she was in survival mode and wasn't listening to us.  Bob had enough.  I had too.  We were both at the point of exhaustion in trying to bring Marie under control.  I was having trouble staying afloat and so was Bob, an excellent swimmer.  I told Bob to save himself, I was staying with Marie.  I was hoping Marie would run out of steam and I could handle her.  So far, she was still screaming at the top of her voice.  Marie went down again and I went after her.  I saw her struggling under water....and then she became still.  I grabbed her, but my lungs were screaming for air and I found myself blacking out....as I came to the surface.  Bob had grabbed me and brought me to the surface.  I screamed for Marie.  Bob was crying, "She's gone, Art.  We did all we could."  I don't remember much after that.  I was told police and ambulances came.  I couldn't look at Marie's lifeless body as divers brought her out of the lake.

The next four days were the worst of my life.  I felt immense remorse...and guilt over Marie's death.  I repeated the story of what happened at least five times to sheriff's deputies who were trying to make sure this was an accident and not a homicide. All stories fell in line with those from both myself and Bob who was also wracked with guilt.  Over the years, I thought of what I could have done differently to save Marie's life.  The one thing I would have changed was not to go out to the middle of the lake with the rest of our group.  I knew Marie was a poor swimmer, even worse than me.  But, it was a blink of an eye decision to go to the middle of the lake without much forethought given.  Marie wanted to fit in with the rest.  That, along with the fact I was going out there to join our friends, was reason enough for Marie to follow me.  Even now, I feel tears welling up inside me as I type this story.  Marie should be alive and having grandchildren as I have now.  But, that will never be.

I would frequently go out to the lake after Marie's drowning.  But, I never went back to the lake to swim.  I cried so many tears out there by myself.  There were late afternoons when I would be so despondent, I actually considered going out to the middle and drowning myself.  But, I couldn't do that to my parents.  About two months after Marie's drowning, I was out at the lake by myself.  Sometimes Bob would come along.  But, he knew I preferred to be by myself.  I would find myself talking out loud to Marie, telling her how sorry I was that I encouraged her to go out to the middle of the lake with me.  I would say, I wish it had been me that drowned and not her.  I never got a reply...until this one late afternoon two months later.  I was crying as usual and was consumed with guilt as I had been since her death.  "Arthur...Arthur...it's not your fault.  Don't blame yourself" a voice suddenly said.  There were only two people who had ever called me Arthur, my mother, and Marie.  It definitely was not my mother.  I turned around looking for who had said it.  I saw no one.  "Marie? Marie is that you?" I asked.  I did not get an answer.  I stayed another half hour, shook up and waiting for the voice to speak again.  But, it did not.

I didn't sleep much that night.  I was torn as to whether I was losing my mind or, if, in some way, Marie was really there talking to me.  It was a restless night to be sure.  I woke early the next morning.  It was a Saturday morning as I recall.  I decided to go out to the lake.  It was not quite daylight.  But, I went to the lake anyway.  As I made it to the lake, the air was cool and the sun was peeking over the treeline.  "Marie? Marie, are you here?  If you are here, please talk to me," I said.  Nothing but the quiet wind whistling through the pine trees.  Tears started welling up when..."That will be enough of that Arthur.  It's time for you to stop this."  I turned around and a foggy mist hung near where the voice came from.  I couldn't speak. "Don't be afraid, Arthur, dear.  I have been near you almost from the time I passed from this existence.  I will always be nearby, my dear Arthur.  I am only talking to you because I want you to stop this continued guilty mood you have settled in.  If you love me, if you truly loved me, dear Arthur, you will move on with your life," the voice said.  "Marie? Can that possibly be you?  How..."  "Don't concern yourself with how or why I'm here, dear Arthur. Suffice it to say I am only here a short while and then you will never hear from me again unless you truly are in need of my comfort.  You must let go of me.  You must move on with your life and fulfill what God has set out for you.  My time was short.  But, I completed all I was set to do.  I love you, Arthur.  I always did.  But, I couldn't bring myself to say it in life.  You will find another girl, a girl you will have two beautiful girls with someday.  I wished it could have been you and I.  But, it was not meant to be," Marie said.  I was still in a state of shock.  I noticed the sun was coming up above the treeline now and the mist, where Marie's voice emanated from, was starting to thin out.  I wanted to ask her how she knew my future.  But, I thought better of it.  "Marie, always remember, I loved you as much as a young boy could.  I wish I had not tried to get you to come out to the middle of the lake that day.  That is something I will always regret.  I don't know what else to say, Marie," I said. "There's nothing more to be said, Arthur.  You will understand why I had to part from you someday.  You will..." said Marie.  That was the last I heard of Marie.

I went to the lake many times later.  I tried talking to Marie again, to get her insight on problems.  But, I never encountered her again.  I remembered Marie saying she would come into my life if I ever really needed her.  I forgot about that as I grew up, went to college, got married and had kids of my own.  I have two girls.  Exactly as Marie stated.  My story could end there except for one episode that took about twenty years off my life when my youngest daughter, who was 11 years old at the time, got lost in a very crowded mall during Christmas.  She was with me and suddenly, she was gone.  I went to security guards, intercoms were blaring her name and I was about to have a heart attack.  An entire hour passed by and no sign of my daughter.  I felt as if the world was crashing in on me when I felt a tugging on my right arm.  It was my daughter! I was beyond feeling relieved and happy to see her.  I asked her where she went off to.  She explained she got caught in a crowd and lost sight of me.  It happens all the time in malls all across America.  You never expect it to happen to you and your child.  She told me that she knew she was in trouble and was hiding from me (that is so typical of some kids).  She said a very pretty blonde girl, about her age, said she knew where my daddy is and she said you are not in trouble.  My daughter was surprised at how she knew me.  The blonde pointed to me and my daughter immediately ran to me.  The blonde was gone right before she tugged on my arm.

Marie was true to her word. She said she would always be nearby.  And she was when I needed her most in that mall so many years ago. I have not seen or heard from her since that day at the lake.  But, she is always in my heart and thoughts.


**As an aside, if you enjoyed this story, please consider donating to help such stories remain on this site.  I have not charged the owners for this story.  But, others are now demanding payment.  Thank you and I hope you enjoyed my story. -- Arthur Wesley

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