“I’d like to start by explaining to you how I conduct my readings,” I begin.
“As a medium, I essentially act as a spiritual transistor of sorts. A channel between your loved one that has passed, and your tangible reality.”
I continue along this boilerplate explanation as my mind is already starting to drift into an altered state. First, I take a moment to internally roll my eyes at my own wording. Calling them a ‘loved one’ is often truly a stretch. I mean, if anyone gets it, I do. People become so desperate and lonely and utterly adrift in a sea of uncertainty about the Great Beyond, the After, the Final Curtain, after someone they’re connected to has just…stopped existing.
Then, after my admittedly duplicitous phrasing, I unlock my internal door and just barely peak through the crack.
Ah, so she’s got a few people waiting to come through. That’s got potential. It’s always slightly nerve-wracking, the beginning. I’ve gone through a few readings where no one of import has seen fit to stop by. Just some aimless spirits who have no discernable link to my sitter whatsoever. That, undeniably, makes for an awkward reading.
“When your loved one makes an appearance,” I continue, “I’ll be able to see them, though they look a bit phased out. If they’ve recently passed, I can often hear them, although it sounds garbled, like they’re talking through layers of fabric. I’ll do my best to interpret what they’re saying. If you can pick up on some context clues, please elaborate so I can help translate their message to you.”
That’s…a lie. It’s an unavoidable truth that mediums have an unspoken duty to use caution when relaying messages between both sides. The context clues we need are mostly based in what the sitter wants to hear. With little exception, people think once a person has crossed over, that they’re automatically enveloped in light and love and have reached the ultimate state of enlightenment. In actuality, many of these spirits exist exactly as they left this earth. Of course, many that have crossed have moved towards a higher consciousness and act as true lightbringers. Countless spend their time in the afterlife looking after those they’ve loved and even those they’ve never met. They’ll send messages to melancholy souls when they’re feeling overwhelmed with loss. Deliver pennies with specific dates, deer and butterflies in random places, send lyrics through the radio waves. Their methods of delivery are lovely in their subtlety. They devote their eternal energies to relieving the burden of loss from broken hearts. It’s admirable and I love when they come to chat or to listen. Their presence is a comfort I’ve never known on this side.
However, the uncomfortable truth is, many that come through for readings to pass along messages, are utter twats.
This woman in particular who has come for a sitting, has a few of those waiting for her. These “loved ones” are literally banging on the door, demanding to be let it. They seem a raucous bunch, and from the tears already forming in the corners of her eyes, I can tell I’ll need to delicately translate what is likely to be a brash message from the other side.
What a Gift.
“I can feel a motherly presence coming through. Though, she’s shaking her head at me. An Aunt? No. Ah, maybe a Mother-in-Law?”
The spirit in question has her eyebrow raised at me, lips pursed, arms akimbo.
“Tell that tramp that I’ll never accept her as my daughter and that I can see how unfairly she treats my boy. Tell her I will never forg…,” I attempt to staunch the flow of what is likely to be an aggressively negative rant as I scramble to form an appropriate message.
“Her and your husband were close, yes?”
“Yes! He’s always been a mama’s boy. I’m surprised she’s come through for me. I always got the impression she never thought I was good enough for him.”
My sitter seems touched by this validation, so I tell her, “Yes, she’s saying how much she loves him but she’s also expressing her thanks to you as she now knows the level of your devotion to him. I’m sensing much gratitude and appreciation from her. She also asks that you tell her son that she’s okay and at peace.”
I don’t dare look over at the spirit who has narrowed her eyes at me and stomped away in a huff. Yikes.
Another presence barges through, almost knocking my transitory door off its invisible hinges. Clearly, I need some mental maintenance before my next session.
“Tell this ungrateful granddaughter of mine that I NEVER wanted to be buried in that awful dress with my cheap costume jewelry! I wanted those rings to go to my daughters and my dog to go with my brother! What right does she…”
Again, I must cut her off. She’s forceful, this one.
“Your grandmother seems to be coming through loud and clear! You two were close? She’s mentioning a dog that may have been bequeathed upon her passing? And she’s referencing a lovely floral dress?”
Her eyes widen and light up. Her entire expression brightens. I wonder if this is who she’s been waiting for. Odd, since her grandmother still seems hung up on some petty grievances.
“Oh! My Grandma Sue!”
I look over for confirmation and she gives me a gruff nod.
“Yes, I believe that’s her. She’s also mentioning something about rings?” I hedge my bets.
My sitter is vibrating with delight. Explaining to me her reasoning behind the dress she chose, which seems a sincere account of simply bad fashion sense. She even has one of the rings on her left pinky that she proudly presents to me. As she laments that it doesn’t really fit her well, but she’s too concerned with altering it in any way as it would seem an insult to her grandmother’s memory, I can feel the presence next to me soften. Deflate in the way they do when they realize that their time is over and they’re still carrying with them the same harshness they thought they’d shed in the afterlife.
“Tell her she looks beautiful. And that I am thankful she’s gone to such great lengths to preserve my memory and to take care of my Max. Tell her to resize the ring. There’s a necklace she doesn’t know about in one of the dresser drawers she brought from my house. She’ll have to pull the top left drawer all the way out. It’s taped up behind. Tell her I want her to have it, as I know she’ll enjoy it.”
And just like that, she gently fades and the peace of her message wash over both of us. I can see it on her face, though I doubt she knows what it was.
I relay this message softly and with great care. I can tell she’s a fragile one.
A few others come through for her. None with urgent messages, but some parting words. Some kind, some…not. An uncle that marched through was an absolute horror and I deliberately ignored his terribly rude comments aimed towards my sitter. Best she didn’t hear about his affinity for gleefully watching her and her husband argue. I’m about to end the meeting when I notice a glimmer of disappointment pass over her face. Was there someone else she was hoping for that didn’t come through?
I ask her how she’s feeling. Ask if she feels validated that she’s seen the signs her loved ones have been leaving her. While I half-listen to her response, I open the door just a little wider to see if there’s any stragglers. Any spirits that are still shy and cautious, even in this new universe they’ve found themselves in. Many find some personality traits to be exacerbated after passing. It always makes me a little somber seeing a withdrawn spirit, not fully understanding or accepting their new, expansive reality.
And there he is. So subdued he’s almost muted. I beckon him over and he obliges, though painfully wary.
“Wait,” I interrupt her. “There’s someone coming through, but he’s silent. I can barely hear him, barely see him. But he’s here, for you. He won’t tell me his name. He’s not saying anything, just looking at you with love in his eyes, hand on his heart. He’s wearing jeans and a plain white tee shirt. Do you know who this could be?”
His name is a whispered breath in her mouth. Her eyes, already red from crying, open wide and look all around, as if she might in that moment suddenly be able to see Beyond. Many people attempt this fruitless effort and it always pains me a bit to witness their predictable failure.
I look over at Terry, who has suddenly regained just a little bit of color. He aggressively nods his head, while wringing his hands together nervously.
“Yes,” I tell her, “It’s Terry. Did you want to say anything to him? He’s listening intently.”
With reluctant spirits, I’ve found that sometimes, they’re just waiting for the other person to tell them what they want from them. There isn’t much they can do from the other side. It’s a helpless feeling, really. I get why so many try to deny their passing.
“God, I have so many things I want to say to him. Tell him…Tell him that I’m so sorry. So unbelievably sorry. I didn’t mean to stand you up that day. I got caught up with something that feels so incredibly silly now. I was going to meet you. I was going to say yes. You were the love of my life and I’ll never forget how it felt to love you and be loved by you. I think of you always and you’ll forever have a part of my heart. I think about that day endlessly and how it all could have played out differently. It’s my fault. I know it is. If I had shown up, If I had called you sooner…”
She folds in on herself, as if protecting a heart that’s been fractured and could easily break anew. She disappears for a moment behind tears that seem unrelentingly, constantly raw. Like a wound that just won’t close. I move to comfort her and notice Terry doing the same.
He’s also crying. His face mirrors her sorrow and it’s unbearable to watch them. I can feel the love loss, the sense of a life unlived.
She touches her cheek where he’s placed his hand in a futile effort to wipe away her tears of grief.
“He’s here isn’t he,” she implores, begging me with her shining eyes to answer in the affirmative.
“Yes. He’s next to you. Can you feel him?”
I don’t have to whip up a false narrative for this message. This is why she’s here, why she came to me. I can hear him whispering lightly to her. So soft, I cannot make it out. Some secrets don’t need to be spoken, but shared, heart to soul. I don’t know if she can feel some sense of his words, but I can tell she feels an absolution from his devoted influence.
As I watch the burden of regret bleed from his countenance, I recognize that this is a soul who has been delivered salvation. There’s an ironic sense of inevitability here. That she would come to seek his love and forgiveness, but instead give him the gift of validation. Proof that her love would go on, even if he didn’t.
I watch them in silence. Her, struggling with the gravity of guilt, but desperate for the love she can only feel ephemerally. Him, trying but failing to cover the most secret of smiles gracing the corners of his lips for the first time. I see a spark in him that was not there moments ago. How enormous, the splendor of loving and the honor of being loved. How transcendent.
I feel moisture on my leg and realize that I, too, am crying. How unprofessional. I compose myself and begin to shut the door. I can feel before I hear her mother-in-law stomping back with a vengeance. I slam the door in her face and allow them the luxury of a long pause before the duality of life and death once again part them forever.
A gift indeed.