Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Snake Oil Salesman

I called a psychic last week.

Yes... I know.

I was out taking a little "mental health drive" with the babies in the back, and just praying, praying, praying! that they might take a nap (which of course, they didn't) when I flipped to a midday talk show hosted by a woman that I can best describe as "flighty." She is super syrupy sweet, usually offers self evident self help tips, and I am pretty sure that I am about 40 years younger than her listening demographic, but what can I say? She had a psychic on and I got sucked in.

The callers before me asked questions like, "will my arthritis flair up again" (not kidding here) and I listened along, because really there was nothing else on the radio, and then all of the sudden the psychic told a caller about a spirit living in her house. The caller seemed to really believe what he was saying about this spirit and the messages the woman had received from her, and I can't help it... if there is even the remotest possibility of hearing Peyton in any way on the other end of the line, I am going to pick up the phone.

So I did.

I asked him two questions. The first was if I was going in the right direction with my writing. I wanted him to say something like, "I see a published manuscript in your future," but he didn't. He said, "if it feels right to write, then write,"
and I thought,
Really? I needed to call a psychic to tell me this crap? Of course you should write, if it feels right. How is that telling me the future? Ugh. 

I moved on to question #2, and taking a deep breath asked something to the affect of, "when I sense my daughter is with me, is that really her?"

Psychic: "You feel her often, don't you?"

Me: "Yes."

Psychic: "Maybe in the wind, or like a hand on your shoulder?"

A More Gullible Me: "Yes. Yes."

Now we were getting somewhere!

Psychic: "That's her."

Me: "It is?"

Psychic: "Yes, and she wants me to tell you something."

Me: "Really?"

Psychic: "She wants me to tell you about the frogs."

Me: "Frogs?"

Psychic: "Yes, or maybe it's Kermit the Frog. She says you would know. That it is an inside joke."

A Less Gullible Me: "An inside joke, huh?"

Psychic: "Yeah, from when she was a little girl."

Me: "Right. Okay then," *rolls eyes* "thanks."


What was the point of going any further?

I didn't have the heart to tell the guy that my daughter never was a "little girl."

She never got to that stage.

My daughter never saw a frog, let alone knew what one was, and she certainly didn't know who Kermit was.

This guy was full of bupkis.

Maybe he assumed I was the same age as the other women calling in?
Maybe he assumed my daughter died as an adult (it's an easy assumption to make) and was just throwing things out there to see what stuck?
Kermit the Frog...
That would have stuck for so many others, but not for me.

Butterflies - Yes.
Pinwheels - Yes.
Flickering Lights - Yes.
Frogs - No.

Oh well.

There's always next time.

Maybe the next Snake Oil Salesman will tell a more convincing tale.

As you may know, I am the Editor of the online literary magazine, Exhale. This week we put out our Summer issue, with the theme Time as our Enemy. Time as our friend. 

Piecing together the submissions for this issue took me on a real journey emotionally. About a year after Peyton died I wrote the poem, Father Time, and as soon as we had decided on the theme, I knew I wanted to include the piece.

I was surprised by the sucker punch I felt in re-reading it.
In re-reading the sense of hopelessness in my words:

That maybe in some future space,
a genuine smile will claim this face,
as in my arms I hold a child,
whose future has not been defiled.
By Disease. Infection. Despair.
A child whose shot at life is fair.

But then it hit me.

I did that.
I created two beautiful, perfect, healthy babies.

I didn't know that was possible when I wrote the poem... but I do now.

I remember how it felt writing that poem.
I remember every emotion that I felt pouring it out onto the page.

Going back to it was like revisiting a dark, early chapter in my grief and infertility.

It was a reminder that we really can't ever count ourselves out.

There is always the possibility that things can improve.

I invite you all to check out the current issue of Exhale. In addition to poetry, essays, and fiction, we have a wonderful book review by Kathy Benson, and a great interview with infertility activist Keiko Zoll.


  1. I'm not gonna lie - I'm glad the psychic was a big flop BUT have you read the book Heaven is for Real? It's about a little boy who had an emergency appendectomy and seems to have died and visited heaven (true story). He says he met his little sister who his mother miscarried (and no one told him about). His description of heaven and babies in heaven might intrigue you! :D

  2. Thank you for writing this post. I will tell you my psychic experience. I hate to compare this to yours, as it was with my dog and not a lost baby, but I will tell you nonetheless so that you can see why your post helped me.

    I put my dog to sleep suddenly because his lungs filled with fluid. I didn't do any tests and I didn't pursue treatment because he was in pain. I had/have so much guilt. So I contacted a psychic. She was wonderful and said just the right things and reassured me that my dog felt I had done the right thing in putting him to sleep. Some of it was a little off or far-fetched, but I allowed it to comfort me.

    Then 2 months later I was still obsessing over whether or not I made the right decision in euthenizing him. So I contacted another psychic. I had told the first one far too much of my story with my preemie and miscarriage, so I felt like that may have led her to say some of the things she said. I told the second psychic nothing. And her reading was AWFUL. She told me that my dog didn't know if I had made the right decision and that he feels like I am "putting him in a box" with my relationship with him right now. My dog would never say something like that. It's nuts! She couldn't even explain what that meant. Then she told me that he liked it when I pet him on the head. REALLY??? That's shocking!!!

    So I have let myself unfortunately forget what the first psychic said and I have focused on the second. Thank you for letting me know that some of them are just bogus! She had such a good website and looked so professional. It was all just a load of poo.

    I do have to say that I am a Christian and I don't even know if I believe in psychic abilities. My Christian friends would probably die if they knew I went to a pet psychic. But I don't care. I was just searching for something.

    Regardless of what your stupid psychic said, I truly believe that when you feel your daughter with you, she is indeed with you. I believe that she comforts you. Why wouldn't she? You loved her so much. Why wouldn't she want to spend time with you and let you know that she is there? I believe that God allows the ones we have lost to be with us and to comfort us.

  3. Your post made me laugh, hope you are ok with that. I would have had a hard time laughing at him before I hung up.
    I saw a psychic when I found out I was pregnant this time. I told her I had lost a child and she basically fed me things she thought I wanted to hear... "you will have another child, it will be healthy, things will be great, you will buy the baby a bike - huh?." I found she asked me questions and based on my answer told me the same thing but in different words.
    At least you didn't pay for it :)
    Will check out Exhale. Babies are adorable!

  4. I too visited psychics, 2 of them, so I am twice as bad as you. I will only share one of them with you briefly. She told me there was literally a block (big and cubic) blocking Trey from me and he was speaking through a spirit who had been with me since the dawn of time. She told me he was ashamed because he jumped into his body too soon, not following the proper channels to be recycled to the Earth. He was afraid we were mad at him and therefor could not complete the process of recycling himself again until he knew we weren't mad at him. That evening, I actually spoke to Trey, knowing his guilt complex was inherited from me, and assured him that we did not blame him for dying and that he needed to go on through Heaven's process so that he could return to Earth. It felt silly telling him to move on when it's hard for me to some days. I'd like to think he listened and moved on through the light, to be the light in someone else's eyes. HUGS, wish I had some funny way to connect Peyton with Kermit, maybe you can find one. :) Sharon

  5. The first this I thought of when I read this was... maybe she's with Noah?! Everything Frogs reminds us of him!

    I can see how this interaction with the psychic didn't bring you much peace, joy or understanding, and I hope you do find it in the future!

  6. Thanks for sharing about Exhale. I have been following you here for awhile but had no idea it existed!

  7. I'm sorry that you had the experience - I think it's something we all search for isn't it? Someone to confirm the connection we have with our children. For what it's worth, when I read here I sense a very, very strong connection between you and your beautiful little girl - I'm not psychic, I just feel your love poured out here.

  8. Sorry, I was laughing, I couldn't help it.

    Thanks for sharing the beauty of Exhale with us. I remember after Hussein I went online and found it. Brings me back.

  9. I saw a recommended Medium after the sudden death of my cousin in an accident this March. The depth of detail he knew about various family members (personality traits, exact ailments, messages for me) was astounding and I am at much greater peace now. I would recommend a visit like that to anyone who felt they could benefit from it. He is based in Australia but I think he does email/skype readings too. www.matthewjamesmedium.com