A few days ago an old friend asked me if I had ever had a relationship with a ghost or spirit. As far as a romantic relationship goes, the answer is no, and I can safely say that I give my close friends and family permission to put me into the psych ward if that ever happens, but as far as a friendship goes, yes. His name is Kyle, and he did more for me during his earthly death than most have the ability to do in their natural lives. You see, I believe that death is just something that happens to our earth bound bodies, and not something that happens or will ever happen to our souls. Our bodies are of this earth, and therefore must run with the natural circle of life, but our souls are not of this earth, so in saying that, the same rules do not apply. Just as our souls are given "free will" during our natural lives, our souls also have "free will" after our natural death. We have the choice to stay grounded, and we also have the choice to move on to the other side when we want to. Hence the reason we have ghosts. Some people simply choose to stick around. Maybe not forever, but for the time needed to do whatever he/she feels needs to be done before he/she can move on. I have also learned that some tasks can only be done once someone has left his/her body, for as they say, once we're dead, we become all knowing. In being all knowing, the amount of help we can give to loved ones in our body's death must be limitless. That is of course, if by "free will" we choose to stick around and do so.
Growing up, I was never particularly close to my dad's family, but I always had fond memories of my cousin Paul. Paul is my dad's first cousin (my first cousin once removed), and his age falls in between my dad's age and mine. Sadly, as time tends to do, we all grew apart. My thoughts of Paul turned into distant memories, and soon, I gave Paul no thought at all. After going through a horrible break up and leaving LA, I started to move on with my life as a writer and newly honest-about-being paranormal person. Everything in my life seemed to be moving along just fine, until one day in November I found myself desperate to contact Paul again. I had a haunting urgency to find a man I had not seen or spoken to in twenty or so years. I hounded my grandparents for any contact information they had for him which resulted in his email address and mailing address... both of which I used... obsessively. A month or so passed with no response, until finally, I got an email back. After a quick exchange of "hellos" and catching up, I let it slip that dead people talk to me. Once the words were typed out, and the send button pressed, my heart sank in panic that my long lost cousin would think I was a freak, and so would end our correspondence. To my surprise, Paul was okay with it and told me if I ever saw his friend Kyle, who had passed away a few years before, to please tell him everything was okay and to move on. I told Paul not to get his hopes up, but I would keep a look out even though I highly doubted Kyle would pop by.
As the evening progressed, I stumbled back to my bedroom, plopped on the bed with my laptop ,turned my music on, and played around on Facebook. Then out of nowhere a burning sensation ran down my wrist. "Ouch," I said as the hairs on my arm stood on end. I looked down to see two perfect scratch marks.
"Sorry," echoed in my bedroom as I was overwhelmed with the too familiar feeling of a ghostly spirit. I grabbed the camera and took a picture of my wrist (see attached picture), with a plan to email it to Paul just to see what his reaction would be, and if by some slim chance he thought this could in fact be Kyle.
"It's okay," I replied,"but next time you really don't need do that. You can just talk to me." I scanned the room looking for any sign of the energy that was speaking to me. Nothing. I emailed the picture to Paul, turned the light off and went to bed with a feeling inside that whoever was "haunting" me was not a spirit of malice or ego. Even though this ghost had scratched me, he meant no harm. Be it Kyle or whomever, he came in peace.
The next day, while working in my living room, an image started to appear by my patio door. He was blonde, looked quite fit, and sat in a fetal position. He looked right at me, and I back at him. "Are you Kyle?" I asked. No response. "Are you the one who scratched me last night?" No response. He just sat and looked at me as if he was making sure he could trust me. "Suit yourself," I added. "You're welcome to talk to me whenever you want." I went to my email, and started a new one to Paul. I described the image I was seeing, and asked if it described Kyle, and a few hours later I got an email back. Paul confirmed that the image I was seeing was Kyle, and sent me a picture to confirm. I started to shake as I realized that Kyle and I had indeed made contact. Paul also responded to the picture of my scratches as almost matching scars Kyle had in life. Besides my grandmother, I had never really dealt with a spirit that was close to someone I know. I felt the weight of responsibility sink into my shoulders. God willing, I would be able to help this soul. God willing, I could get him to move on.
Days passed by, and Kyle hung around. His silence lifted and he became a friend to me. He would pick outfits out for me, and when I would hesitate about a particular pair of jeans, he always assured me my ass looked fine. He made me laugh. When I would go to take a shower, he would try to follow me, and when I told him to stay out while I bathed, he would always look at me and remind me that he's gay. I would giggle and tell him that I didn't care... and out of respect for me he would stay out. When friends (that would have been spooked by a ghost) came over, he stayed hidden. He was one ghost that truly meant no harm, and without me even realizing it, his presence was bringing my cousin and me together again because during this time, Paul and I emailed almost daily. We seemed to be in constant contact without ever running out of things to say. In fact, our first phone conversation lasted about three hours. We share common beliefs in life, and a friendship between the two us began to form. I found myself trusting Paul, and realizing what an incredible man I had as a cousin. Paul also told me about the man Kyle was in life.
Kyle was born on September 9, 1975, and from what I learned, he came into this life as ball of energy meant to affect the people around him. It seemed to me that he lived his life out loud, and although he paid dearly for his "voice" in his natural life, he still spoke without hesitation. As I mentioned, Kyle is/was gay. Because of the struggles and battles Kyle was forced to face merely for being the person he was created to be, it is to be hoped that because of his struggles and his willingness to fight, future generations will never know the nasty hate from the homophobic community. It is to be hoped that because of people like Kyle, the word "homophobic" will dissipate from society. Freedom isn't free and sometime peace is something one has to fight for, and thank God for people like Kyle, for, because of his life, and his honesty, hate crimes are now taken seriously.
Four years ago (two years before his death) Kyle was asked to speak in Washington DC about hate crimes. He came to speak about all he had been through as a homosexual American male. In fact, the scars he bore on his arm, the scars that resembled the scratch marks he left on me, were scars left over from an attack he had survived years before. They were defense wounds left behind from a night where Kyle almost lost his life years before he actually did. Kyle had just come out of the closet, as they say, to friends in his home town of Homerville, GA. His friends, pretending to okay with his sexuality asked him to come out to the woods with them to get drunk on some booze they had purchased earlier in the day. Once out in the woods, the "friends" attacked with knives, and left him for dead. Without Kyle's willingness to live, he would have died. From what I understand, once alone, he walked himself out of the woods and to the hospital. His scars, and scratches he left on me, were symbols of his strength, they were symbols of his fight, and became war wounds that didn't define who he was, but gave him a platform and a sign of experience to reach a hand out to others who one day would struggle the way he did. Because of his struggles, his life was not lived in vain, and as I realized, he was one spirit that wasn't going to live his death in vain either.
As days turned into weeks, I started to panic because I could not figure out how to get Kyle to move on. He lingered around me, and although I enjoyed his company, I knew it would be better for him to go to the next realm of existence. I would plead and beg him to let me know what I could do for him so he could find peace, and I would still get nothing. It wasn't until I visited an old girlfriend from home, that it all clicked. She got me to see that Kyle wasn't coming to me to do something for him, but in death, and therefore being all knowing, he was coming to me to bring me back to Paul and vice versa. Even though he did not know of me in his life, he knew of me in his death, for he had been haunting me before I even knew who he was. He was the reason I desperately needed to reconnect with Paul. He was the reason Paul and I became family again. For whatever reason, Kyle found it important to give his good friend his cousin back. What life and time divided, Kyle brought back together, and once I realized that, Kyle peacefully moved on. Because of Kyle's longing to give a complete stranger the love of a family member, I will always consider Kyle my friend too.
Kyle's natural life ended on May 11, 2008. He was 34 years old. At Kyle's service my cousin read a moving poem by Maya Angelou that I would like to share again in honor of Kyle, and in hopes that as citizens of the world, we will one day see the end of hate crimes.
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history,
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt,
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With certainty of tides,
Just like hope springing high.
Still I Rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard?
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Digging in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of all the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear tide.
Leaving behind night of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and hope of the slave
In Loving Memory of Kyle Griffis
September 9, 1975- May 11, 2008.