A Psychic Comes Calling
When a psychic finds me in a coffee shop, she has a message from my dead husband.
The panini’s had been ordered, and I had just gotten up to grab my “Blue Velvet,” a tea latte. A woman sitting at a table next to ours, asked, “Did your boyfriend or husband die recently?”
Here we go again, I thought.
Not recently,” I said. “And it was my husband.”
She introduced herself as Lisa, and told me she didn’t usually do this sort of thing, but that she was a psychic and had a message from my husband.
“He described you perfectly, so I knew it was you right away,” she said. “I was just driving along, and he told me I had to go to Luna Café and meet you. He had a message for you. Honestly, this has never happened before. I am new to this. I won’t charge you if you are interested in hearing his message.”
My husband’s mother was at the next table with the kids. I knew she would not take to this at all. She would immediately call bull$**t. Perhaps she is more pragmatic than I am. Perhaps I am just gullible. Perhaps I just want to believe so much that my husband is out there somewhere, and not just gone in the blink of an eye.
Of course, I immediately sat down with this woman, much to the bewilderment of my family at the next table.
“Was Thanksgiving significant in some way?” she asked.
I thought of all the Canadian Thanksgivings my husband, Arron and I celebrated with friends, putting together mini-sets of Lego during dinner, which became our tradition. I remembered Arron in a turkey coma sprawled on the tiny couch we purchased when first arriving in the US from London when it took a month for our furniture to arrive. The couch was barely big enough for a doll, and yet we had sat on it together to watch TV, me six months pregnant.
We held his memorial service on Canadian Thanksgiving, Columbus Day in the US. That year, 2001, it held particular significance. Our friends and neighbors prepared an entire turkey dinner for everyone who returned to the house after the memorial.
“He appears disembodied, which often happens when someone has died in an explosion or something. Was it an accident?”
“Um. Not really, but sort of. He died on 9/11,” I said, instantly regretting dropping the bomb and giving her too much info. It’s entirely possible, I thought, that she just looked me up. There was extensive information available online about me.
She said the things that psychics often say.
“Make sure our daughter continues with the piano lessons. Is our son having trouble with math? He’s playing a song. Maybe a Credence Clearwater song? The one about the house? ‘Our house?’” Does that have significance?”
Despite my skepticism, for the 20 minutes that I sat there listening, I basked in the magic of him, sifting through the tidbits of memory she was handing to me, trying to put the puzzle pieces of what she said into the giant grid of our lives then and now.
“He wants you to know how much he loves you, and loves the kids, how much he misses you.”
“We miss him too,” I said, thinking, well that’s obvious.
”He’s very proud of you.” I smiled wryly. You bloody better be proud, I thought my response to him. You took the easy route out.
“I hope so,” I said.
That night as my mother-in-law and I prepared dinner, I heard the song, the one about a house that the psychic mentioned. I have to say, I was a little spooked.
I spent half an hour humming the one line I could remember until I found it on iTunes by clicking every Crosby Stills Nash and Young and Credence Clearwater Revival song I could find. I don’t know why I knew it was the song the psychic had meant. It played as I was preparing US Thanksgiving dinner for a room full of Canadians. I am sure it was no coincidence.
It turned out not to be CCR, but by the same band who sang “Our House,” Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young” and the song was called “Judy Blue Eyes.”
My husband was obsessed with music and poetry. I always looked up the lyrics of the songs that played on the radio, the ones that reminded me of him, even if I wasn’t sure why. Every time, the lyrics seemed to carry some special message for me.
This was no exception. I began to cry, as every word seemed to be infused with messages that only made sense to me and our relationship.
Don’t let the past remind us of what we are not now
I am not dreaming.
It’s my heart that’s a suffering (Help me I’m dying)
It’s a dying, that’s what I have to lose
I’ve got an answer
I’m going to fly away
What have I got to lose?
Will you come see me Thursdays and Saturdays?
What have you got to lose?
Perhaps I was still in my years of magical thinking, but meeting Lisa in a coffee shop seemed too much of a coincidence. It felt like divine intervention. What did it all mean?
I don’t know why, but it felt as if he was giving me a task. As my “Mission Impossible” obsessed husband used to say, “It’s your mission Ab, should you choose to accept it…”
What have you got to lose?
Now I just had to figure out what the mission was, exactly. The choice of whether or not to accept it seemed a foregone conclusion.
Little did I know then that a novel would be borne from this coffee shop encounter, a novel about a dead husband guiding his wife from the afterlife.
What have I got to lose?
Abigail Carter was an ex-pat Canadian living in New Jersey with her husband and two young children when her husband died in the attack on the twin towers on 9/11. She wrote The Alchemy of Loss: A Young Widow’s Transformation as a form of catharsis after her husband’s death, chosen by The Globe and Mail as one of the 100 Most Notable Books of 2008 and long-listed for the B.C. Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, Canada’s largest Non-Fiction prize. Her novel, Remember the Moon (which began with meeting a psychic in a coffee shop) was published in 2014 after several sessions with a psychic medium. Her work has also appeared in SELF magazine, Reader’s Digest Canada, MSN.com, Huffington Post, and MORE.com and on her site, abigailcarter.com. Abigail is now working on another novel about widowed people.