To My Angels, Bernadette and Agnes

The way people come into your life when you need them, it’s wonderful and it happens in so many ways. It’s like having an angel. Somebody comes along and helps you get right.
— Stevie Ray Vaughan
Every time you hear a bell ring, it means some angel’s just got his wings.
— Frances Goodrich

A friend going through an intense year of family drama went to see a psychic last spring and came back feeling her session was life changing. She had a new understanding of family members, both living and dead, and that helped her to move forward with a lighter heart. My friend’s not a New Age kind of gal but more pragmatic and most times skeptical. I was so fascinated listening to her experience that I called to make an appointment.
This wouldn’t be my first encounter with mediums or soothsayers. Years ago, my mother and I went to have our tea leaves read. Afterwards we laughed at what a bunch of sodden, stringy shapes at the bottom of a teacup foretold about our futures. My mother was given medical predictions and nothing much else that rocked her world. But I smirked with suspicion when the leaf reader told me I’d have four children, one who would die and another born with red hair. I was single and in my late teens at the time and not sure I was ever going to have one child let alone four. Mom was angry at the woman’s recklessness in assuming that information would be helpful to her college bound daughter with her whole life ahead of her.
Years later a friend gave me a gift certificate for my birthday for a session with a psychic she had been to. I brought a tape recorder with me and braced myself for more horrifying news. The psychic sat in a gigantic chair, closed her eyes and swayed her head in a circular motion. The spirits who showed up to speak to me weren’t people I recognized by her descriptions, but they spoke to me through her with crazy predictions. At the time I thought her intel was shady and not remotely familiar to my life. But years later when I found the cassette tape in a desk drawer and listened to it I was amazed at how much of what she foretold came true. The white house by the water. A certain person she mentioned, a stranger to me then, who did come into my life. Worries about a family member that the spirits said would get healthy and be around for a long time. My mouth dropped open as I listened to the quiet monotone voice giving details about a life not possible to me in the late 1990s. Coincidence? Lots of good guesses?
When I sat down for my session with the psychic, Lori, a few weeks ago the first thing she asked me was my full name and if I had any questions I wanted to ask the spirit guides. That’s how she referred to the dead people in my life. On the twenty-minute drive to the appointment I wondered why I was going through with this? What did I want to know? Did I believe I would walk out of her office with major epiphanies to guide my already wonderful life?
Of course. We all want more answers, don’t we? After a tumultuous year in our family, I told her I wanted to know what 2015 would bring. Some peace and quiet? Or another roller coaster of life’s infinite jests? Staring down unfamiliar roads ahead of me and with time ticking away I wanted to know if I’m spending my time wisely, am I focusing on the right things? Two big projects (writing, but I didn’t tell her that right away) are consuming me. Are they worth the time and effort or should I take up knitting or house painting?
I learned my spirit guide was my mom’s mother, a woman I met only once. But we had similar childhoods, the psychic said, but I didn’t know how until my mother confirmed after my session that her mother lost her father at the age of ten, the same age I was when I lost mine. “She wants you to know she appreciates everything you’re doing for your mom since she wasn’t much of a presence in her life.” Wow, all true, I thought, trying not to give too much away with my surprised look.
Then she mentioned there was another woman clamoring for a word with me—“her name is Ruth, or she’s related to Ruth. . .” My friend’s recently deceased mother wanted me to know that she appreciates me looking after her daughter now that she can’t. Ruth is one of my closest friends, the one who gave me the gift certificate for the first psychic reading. Coincidence? How many Ruth’s are there in the world with recently deceased mothers? My stepfather showed up to say he “was sorry he treated two of us differently.” That was a strange one, but I understood it. My father elbowed his way in to let me know he “was sorry he left the way he did.” There were dead relatives apologizing to me right and left. Apologies I never asked for.
I found out I have two guardian angels, which explains why I haven’t crashed and burned yet. When one is sick and tired of my antics and takes a nap I have my reserve angel to look after me. Bernadette and Agnes. My angels. Psychic Lori knew my middle name, Bernadette, because I had to write my name down three times and give it to her when I sat down on the couch in her office. So a guess that I was named after a dead Bernadette in the family wasn’t too far a stretch. But she said it was a sister of my dad’s and that was right on the money. Agnes? I didn’t know an Agnes. Until in my conversation with my mom, again, after the session. Agnes, it turns out, was the formal name of Dolly, the older woman who watched my brother and I after my father died. Sanka swilling and Lucky Strike smoking Dolly. She was an angel to me then as she is apparently now.
“And so it is with a loved one’s energy. People slip away, but then maybe, just maybe, some part of them is conserved and finds a way into something living around us.”
I forgot where I got this quote, but I wrote it down because it explained my recent psychic experience. I’d like to think my dead loved ones are watching over me, or at least paying attention.
And the tea leaf reader’s predictions? I did have four children, the oldest one born with reddish-blond hair; the second one died three days after birth from a congenital heart defect. Is it woo-woo surreal or is there something truly spiritual or scientific about wet tealeaves?
Psychic Lori didn’t answer my questions about what to expect next year for my family, nor did she help me with my project angst, but she did help me to remember that there is so much of life we don’t see, or remember, or feel. Our busy lives move in 15-minute increments, shuffling from one reality to the next. Maybe, just maybe, people we love who are gone from our lives exist for us on another plane in parallel time? I don’t know. But isn’t life and death, when you’re staring it down here on Earth, an exercise in suspended disbelief anyway?