Hope is Sometimes Foolish

I had a great idea. Last week, I decided, as a gift to myself, that I would book a phone reading with a local medium who seemed to have a good reputation in our community. Her rates were reasonable, so I was willing to spend the money. If she were any good, it would be worth it to finally feel an actual connection with spirit. I believed I needed this to come through someone else, not myself, to validate my continued exploration of all this metaphysical whack-a-doodle nonsense. Plus, I’ve been feeling so lost lately that I hoped I’d get some kind of positive message encouraging me to keep going.

In the days leading up to the reading, I talked to my dead relatives a lot, asking them to come through strong and clear. I set aside the half hour before the call to meditate, so I’d be open and calm. Then I waited for the phone to ring.

She called five minutes late, sounding flustered, apologizing for her lateness. I’m hyper-punctual, so this wasn’t a great start for me, but I was willing to let it go and just get on with the reading. After a short prayer, she began by asking me who I wanted to connect with. I answered honestly—no one in particular. There are a lot of people who have crossed over that I’d be fine hearing from.

Not the right answer. She kept pressing. Wasn’t there someone I wanted to hear from? I asked if telling her would make it easier for her. Not for her, she claimed, for spirit. Uh huh. We were a minute in and I could feel my skeptical face hardening. I gave up my parents. Why not? That should be enough to get the ball rolling.

Nope. What are their names?

Their names? Isn’t that something the medium is supposed to tell me? Shouldn’t that information be used to validate the identity of a spirit coming through? We clearly weren’t going to move ahead until I gave her what she wanted. So I did.

Low and behold, a man stepped forward! It must be my dad. Yeah, well…of the two of us, only one believed that. Yes he was in the service, but no, not the Navy; no, I don’t have a picture of him in uniform that I was just looking at. Nope, there’s not one hanging in the house or out on display. No, he didn’t die in his sixties. Nope, that doesn’t mean he was in his best health in his sixties. Lived to be eighty or early eighties? Late eighties, actually. Yes, he had dark hair when he was young and an average build, but so do a lot of other people in my family (and in general).

At this point, she actually said that it didn’t seem like I believed she was connecting with my dad, and asked me why not. Really? I rattled off the things she had said that were flat out wrong.

“But he does have an average build, right?” Yes. “Well, then, he’s doing a great job coming through. Are you sure you wanted this reading?”

No, I just wanted to give you my money. Let’s continue anyway.

“He’s sending you cardinals. Are you seeing lots of cardinals?”

Nope. Well…there was one cardinal, last Easter. But we all associated that with my mom.

“So, you were just saying no, and now it’s yes? Now you’re saying yes to cardinals?”

No. I’m saying yes to one cardinal. One. On Easter, connected to my mom.

“It was your father,” she insists. “There’s no time over there. He’s sending you cardinals. You have two children?”


“See! He knows about your children. He’s doing a great job!”

He should know about my children; they were well into their twenties when he died.

“One of them is just like him?” Nope. “Think about when he was younger. Just like him then?” Nope. Not even.

“There’s a sibling?” For me? Okay. That’s a yes, sort of.

“He’s acknowledging the sibling. A boy?” Um…yes, but…

“He doesn’t want to leave anyone out.”

Really? I’ll be sure to tell my sister and the four other boys.

Things went rapidly downhill from there. I’ll spare you the rest of the details. After exhausting her bag of vagueries (yes, I know it’s not a real word) about my dad, she turned her cold-reading to my mom. I started saying yes to stuff that wasn’t accurate just to keep things moving. There was no point in arguing, since she’d just insist that she had to tell me what spirit was giving her.

She insisted my mother was trying to come to me in dreams, but she couldn’t because I was too closed. I should keep a dream journal, she said, and try asking for messages before I fall asleep, and tell spirit I want to remember them. Oh, honey, I do all of that and more already. Okey-dokey though.

We were both glad when my time was up. Did I have any questions? Spirit told her I had a lot of questions, but didn’t know what to ask. Spirit should have told her I didn’t believe she was the one who could answer. Her parting shot was that I needed to let go and be joyful, stop needing proof. Right. Good advice.

I felt unsettled the rest of the day. She had basically accused me of being closed to spirit and overly skeptical. Was I? I thought I was open and had a healthy skepticism, as opposed to, say, a toxic cynicism. I had wanted this reading, wanted to feel a connection. Had I walked downstairs and seen a cardinal on the lawn, I would have accepted all the blame for the reading not going well. It was my fault for being difficult, right?

But there wasn’t a bird in sight. My husband and kids assured me that I wasn’t the problem. You do better yourself, they told me. My daughter reminded me of a dream she had had about my mom leaving a message for me on the answering machine, mentioning two friends she was with, names my daughter didn’t know, but I did. I’ve also had strong dreams about my grandmother that felt more like visitations. They brought up example after example of times we’ve believed we had messages, intuitive hits, or personal connections.

Still, I haven’t been able to let the phone reading go. There are bits and pieces that I could connect to my mother. I could force more to apply to my dad as well. I have to work awfully hard to do it, though. And a lot of people could make the same information fit their parents. Nothing was specific enough. Nothing felt like them.

So do I give up? That was one of my first reactions: I’m done! No more nonsense. I’m cured. My husband let me rant, his skeptical face firmly in place. We know better than that, it said.

I didn’t get what I wanted from this reading. I didn’t come away feeling better about myself and my place in the universe. I’m not suddenly a true believer (still just a wannabe-liever). Maybe I’m not supposed to seek out answers from other people. Maybe the questions and the uncertainty are aspects of life I simply need to accept. And maybe if I do that, I can relax a little and enjoy the fun of trying to figure it all out.