My name is Sorcha (we pronounce it Sor-sha; a somewhat obscure Irish name) and I've been wanting to share this story online for a while now, but I wanted to find a site that cared for reality rather than fiction. What I'm about to tell you is, to the best of my knowledge, factual. That or my entire family has been playing a hoax on me since I was seven... Which I doubt.
First of all, I think it's important to set the context of how I know about this experience. Though I'm very interested in the paranormal, I seem to be about as sensitive as a roll of wallpaper. When I was a child, I had quite a few experiences - the younger, the more interesting - but after the age of twelve or so, I've had nothing to report, much to my own disappointment. I guess I'm in the majority that way. While I personally recall some of these incidents, the one I'm about to relate took place when I was three years old, so I don't remember a bit of it. My sister, who is six years older than me, and my parents have described it to me, all in varying detail. My mother enjoys telling it, but my father will only admit it happened if he's had a couple of beers - he's quietly superstitious - and while my sister agrees that it took place, she doesn't see what a big deal it is (some sibling rivalry, perhaps!). By all accounts, it's a long story, so I hope you're sitting comfortably.
During the early years of my life, my family - that is, my parents, my sister, and my brother (who is three years older than me) - took annual trips during summer. We live in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and generally went to Portrush, Portstewart, Donaghadee and Donegal; anywhere with a coast and a good ice cream parlor. In the summer of 1990, when I was three years old, we went to Donegal, which is quite a long road trip for a young family. My brother - and I remember this from other incidents, sadly! - was terribly travel-sick right up until he was a teenager, and trips were punctuated with hideous pauses at the side of roads... If we were lucky. Sometimes travel sickness tablets helped, but unfortunately they often didn't. That year, we made it the whole way to Donegal but had run out of his medication by the time we got there. My dad stopped at the first chemists we passed and we disembarked and crowded inside, glad to stretch our legs.
Now, as a toddler, I had platinum blonde hair, bright blue eyes and a fair amount of puppy fat. Adults generally took one look at me and started cooing and gushing, which was absolutely fine by me. The chemist was no exception, and as her coworker went with Mum to find the right pills for my brother, this brunette lady came out from behind the counter and approached me and Dad. The usual small-talk took place; asking where we were from, how long we were staying, where we planned on going. As it was early in the afternoon, Dad told her we were going to the beach after we'd reached our bed-and-breakfast, and proudly showed me off while my sister sniffed shampoos. Eventually, when all was settled, we left and got back into the car.
We hadn't been on the road long before my brother announced that he felt sick. A declaration of nuclear war wouldn't have elicited such an efficiently panicked reaction from my family. Anyone who grew up as or with this type of sibling will know precisely what I mean. Plastic bags were organized, I was placed on my sister's lap and she squeezed as far away from my brother as possible, and Mum started scanning the surroundings for distractions. About ten minutes later, she spotted a graveyard up ahead. It was an old, fairly decrepit one, which most would agree is interesting, and as we'd never been tourists in a cemetery before - or since - it most definitely proved a distraction.
One last note about myself as a three-year-old: I had a terrible habit of taking what my parents call "mad dashes". For absolutely no reason, I would suddenly pick a direction and go tearing off, leaving my family in the dust. It earned me a few smacks because I didn't yet comprehend road safety, but all that served to do was make me wait until my parents weren't paying attention before running. With that in mind, it's hardly surprising that, after twenty long, boring (well, to a toddler) minutes in the graveyard, I waited for the opportune moment and careened off, and my parents, abashed as they are to admit it, took a few minutes to notice.
No one knows what was in my head during the interim between my disappearance and my parents finding me. My mother likes to conjecture, but I'm the only one who would know, and I haven't a clue. At any rate, it took my family ten minutes to find me. What they found was a little disturbing. I was clinging to a knee-high statue of an angel atop a headstone. My father tried to lift me up, but I wouldn't let go, and screamed bloody murder when he tried to drag me away. Alarmed, they tried to persuade me, but I would have none of it, and they ended up waiting for me to get bored. Eventually, I let go. "It's okay," I said. "She says it's okay now."
Nobody in their right mind would attribute much to the ramblings of a toddler, but as Dad bent down to pick me up, he looked at the headstone. It was a little girl's grave. Her name had been Sorcha, and she had died on that day's date, a hundred-and-change years before, and she had been three years old.
Like I said, Dad's a superstitious fellow on the quiet, and he completely freaked out. The rest of the family ranged from disinterested (my brother) to 'it's a coincidence' (my sister) to "ooh, cool" (that's my mum for you), but Dad utterly lost it. Everybody was packed back into the car and we went on to our destination - my brother was ill along the way, of course - where Dad refused to take us to the beach, saying instead that we would go tomorrow. We went out for dinner, and my father spent the entire day staring at me, as if expecting the Grim Reaper to leap out and nab me at any moment.
We only stayed a few days because Dad needed to work, and nothing eventful happened to us. The weather turned bad, which is completely typical of Irish summers, so we never did go to the beach. Back into the dreaded car we went, prepared for my brother's tummy-antics, and we started the long journey home. As we neared the chemists we'd stopped at, Mum insisted we stop there again so she could get painkillers (I suspect her headache was hangover-induced). My dad was carrying me - funnily enough, he'd been doing that the whole weekend - as we entered. Immediately, the brunette lady let out a shout and rushed towards us, where she paused and started smoothing my hair down. She looked ready to cry.
"Oh, thank God," she kept saying, which was making my family uncomfortable and my dad creeped-out. He asked what was wrong. "The day you came by and said you were going to the beach," the lady said, very upset, "a father and his wee girl were washed off the beach and drowned. I was sure it was you."
To this day, my parents maintain that Dad and I would have died that day in a freak wave, if not for my odd behavior with the statue. All I can say for certain is that it's a long story and could be nothing more than a string of impressive coincidences. But even now, I find myself starting to cry when I tell it. I'm not religious, though I'd count myself as spiritual, but every now and then, my mother says a prayer for the Other Sorcha.