I am an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.
Bound by Love
This story was sent to me by the subject herself, Ellen Reese.* A nature lover and avid hiker, it was while on one of her countless journeys into the woods that she made a discovery that would forever change how she viewed life and death.
An only child, Ellen had always been exceptionally close to her parents. After her mother suffered a series of strokes in 2003, she quit her job to became a full-time caregiver. Although her father also resided in the home, he was not physically able to offer much support.
Looking after the needs of someone who has been through a life-altering medical crisis is never easy; something that Ellen soon learned. Her mother had lost the ability to speak and had only limited use of her arms and legs. It was, at times, a rough road for Ellen, but she navigated it the best she could.
When her mother passed away in 2004, Ellen's grief was tempered with a sense of relief. She missed her mother terribly, but was anxious to resume the life she had been forced to put on hold. Coming to terms with her mixed emotions would take time, much of which she spent exploring the trails that wound through the local wildlife refuge.
On one excursion that took place the week after her mother's funeral, Ellen noticed a stone angel, standing about a foot tall, positioned off to the side of the walking path. She had hiked that same area numerous times in the past, but had never seen the statue prior to that day.
As she knelt down to get a closer look, she saw that the winged figure was cradling an infant in its arms. Etched into the stone was the name "Marie." Below that was the date: "11-2-62."
Ellen recalled that her knees became so weak at that moment that she could barely keep her balance. Marie was her mother's name. November 2, 1962 was the day of Ellen's birth.
She doesn't know how much time she spent in the woods that day staring at the statue. How it got there mystified her since no one, not even her father, knew exactly where or when she went hiking. Ellen believes, nonetheless, that it had been placed there specifically for her benefit.
Since it wasn't hers to take, she left the stone angel where it sat. As she headed to the parking area, she felt as if she was walking on air. She hadn't seen her mother or heard her speak, but she had been present in spirit, of that Ellen had no doubt.
In the days that followed, Ellen missed her walks due to a spate of torrential downpours. When the weather finally broke, she made a beeline for what was now her favorite hiking trail.
Much to her dismay, Ellen discovered that the statue was gone. Thinking that perhaps someone had moved it, she scoured the area to no avail. The object that had given her such a feeling of comfort was nowhere to be found. She returned to the spot numerous times afterwards in the hopes that it would miraculously reappear, but it never did.
Ellen's mother had amassed an impressive collection of angel figurines over the years, many of which her daughter now displays in her own home. Her mother's fixation on these heavenly creatures led her to believe that it was she who had left the stone monument in the woods in that day.
Although she only saw it once, in the end, that had been enough for Ellen. Her mother had always told anyone who would listen that her daughter was the air she breathed. Ellen believes that the statue, and what it represented, was her mother's way of saying that nothing had changed. Their bond was, and always would be, unbreakable.
New Jersey hair salon owner Nina Garces* was closing up her shop one Saturday evening when she noticed a man peering in through the front door window. She recognized him as a regular customer named Michael who had been going through a rough time in recent months.
Nina had grown close to her client as they shared their trials and tribulations with one another. While hers were relatively minor, his resembled the plot of a soap opera. It seemed that, after discovering that his wife was having an affair with his stepbrother, Michael had filed for divorce. A custody battle ensued in which his former spouse emerged victorious.
Having lost his wife and children, Michael's life rapidly spiraled downward. He told Nina, on more than one occasion, that he felt completely alone in the world.
Even as she provided him with a shoulder to cry on, Nina did her best to encourage Michael to pick up the pieces and rebuild his life. Since she hadn't heard from him in a while, she assumed that he had taken her advice.
On this day, seeing him waiting outside in the cold, she didn't hesitate to open the door and invite him in. The smile that spread across his face as they exchanged greetings filled her with hope that her friend had finally turned a corner.
To her surprise, Michael politely refused to enter the establishment. Despite the frigid temperature, their entire conversation would take place with him never setting foot past the threshold.
The two talked for a short while about nothing in particular before Michael announced that it was time for him to go. As he turned to leave, his parting words were, "I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for everything."
Later that night, Nina received a call from an employee of the salon. The woman blurted out that she had just heard that the body of one of their customers had been found in his home early that morning. The cause of death had been a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Somehow, Nina knew what was coming even before the words were spoken. The victim whose remains had lain undiscovered for at least nine hours was Michael. Her heart sank at the realization that her friend had died alone, just as he had lived.
The Last Stop
After hanging up the phone, Nina tried to reconcile what she had just learned with the knowledge that she had spent time with Michael, seemingly alive and well, only a few hours earlier.
As she mulled over their brief encounter, the pieces of a larger puzzle began to fall into place. Knowing now what she didn't know then, she recalled Michael's effortless smile. It had been the first time she had seen him display even a glimmer of happiness in months.
Thinking back, she realized that everything about their interaction had been a little off. In the past, they had always greeted each other with a warm embrace. On this occasion, however, Michael had gone out of his way to keep some distance between them.
Nina also found it odd that, even though she was chilled to the bone, Michael appeared to be oblivious to the icy air that enveloped them. She noted too that his face had been completely devoid of color. She had overlooked his pallor at the time since he seemed so healthy otherwise.
It wasn't only his appearance that had indicated that Michael wasn't quite himself. Even though Nina had feared for some time that he was on the verge of giving up on life, on that Saturday evening, Michael had been downright joyful as he proclaimed that he was now "In a really good place."
With the benefit of hindsight, it was clear to Nina that her friend's newfound optimism was completely out of character for someone who had previously seemed unable to dig himself out of an ever-deepening hole.
She couldn't have known that Michael had been dead for at least a day at the time he stopped by to offer his thanks and to let her know that his troubles were behind him. Although she continued to grieve his loss, Nina took comfort in the knowledge that they had been able to connect one last time before he set out on his journey into the great unknown. He had seen to it.
*Names have been altered in order to protect the privacy of those involved.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.