It is all material–even the dead.

mom's newspaper engagement photo

“What do you think happens after you die?” my mother asked. We were in her car driving I don’t know remember where but the road was lined with pine trees and it was a long drive.

The conversation started with one of those psychology quizzes about finding a key and coming to a body of water. One answer is supposed to tell you how you feel about death. I don’t remember my answer but my mother talked about a forrest and a large tree blocking the path.

The other day I spoke to a medium. Have you ever talked to a medium? Why or why not?

I got in touch with my mother’s ex-boyfriend a few months ago. He remembered me. He told me how much my mother meant to him, that he thought of her every day, that he knows they will be together again. My mother died 20 years ago and this was not what I expected as a reply.

He said he made regular visits to a medium and had spoken to my mother. I haven’t spoken to my mother since the Sunday night phone call the Wednesday before she died. Eventually he sent me a message asking if I wanted to talk to the medium too. He offered to pay her fee.

I didn’t want to owe my mother’s ex-boyfriend anything. I’m not a believer in speaking to the dead–no matter what stories I write. But, you know, you never know. This was an opportunity. Good or bad–it would be material.

In a writer’s life everything is material. And what writer doesn’t need more material?

I can’t say if I believed the medium or if I felt good about the talk. There is no nonfictional way to write about that conversation without sounding… a way I don’t want to sound. But I’m sure this will show up in my fiction. Then we’ll see.

So, would you visit a medium? What would you hope for? What do you imagine such a conversation is like?

So for fun and interest I get this horoscope sent to my email every week. For this week’s…

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): At a family planning conference in Beijing, a researcher from Ghana presented testimony about tribal issues that he had in part gleaned through interviews with dead ancestors. He said that spirit mediums had acted as his “translators.” When he was met with skepticism from colleagues, he was defensive. “If I only heard from the living,” he explained, “I wouldn’t get a very good balance.” His perspective would be smart for you to adopt right now, Libra. To make the wisest decisions and take the most righteous action, draw inspiration from what has passed away as much as from what’s alive and in your face. Halloween costume suggestion: a spirit medium.

22 thoughts on “It is all material–even the dead.

  1. No, It wouldn’t sit right with me, but I’d listen to the experience of someone who did. I have, however, met with a spiritual director many times, and am trained as one myself, so I do believe in spiritual practices that help us to be in the presence of God. There are people would look askance at that as well. I know, I’ve met them.

  2. Fascinating, Marta, really. I’d do it in a heartbeat, even though I don’t have anybody I’d want to contact. Maybe Grandpa so I could ask him if he learned anything after death he could pass along. He was a total asshole in life, and that was the unanimous opinion of anyone I’ve asked, so I’d like to know if he’s sorry, or if he was playing the part God set for him, or what. Not that I’d believe it was him. I’ve never been able to settle on a theory about spirits and ghosts and whether or not they are able to interact with the living. It’s neat that you got to try it out. I’d love to hear about your experience someday.

  3. I’ve never been to a medium, but I had my palms read by an up & comer when I was , wait for it, 19 or 20. I’m pretty sure 19. It was before I had declared my major in college. The palm reader (psychic? I don’t know what to call her yet) told me I would have a long marriage which would produce two sons and would die relatively young (late 40’s to mid-50’s). I’ve got the marriage and kids taken care of & I’m currently writing a post about the many biological anomalies in bipolar patients that cause premature death rates 35-200% higher than that of the general population from things like heart disease, high BP, diabetes, etc. (The study to which I’m referring was a compendium of 17 other studies some of which included bipolar suicides in their statistics, hence the huge disparity in %s.)

    Looks like the up & comer had a bit of skill after all.

    I have always believed in ghosts. My father passed away when I was young and I have felt & smelled his presence many times. I know he’s with me when I smell cherrywood pipe tobacco. I’ve felt his touch. I didn’t know about the former until I mentioned the scent, which tended to waft through my nose when I was on the brink of momentous decisions, to an aunt who nearly fell out of her chair at my telling. I did not remember anything about my dad smoking a pipe (I was very young), but apparently he did and exclusively used cherrywood pipe tobacco. The last time I smelled him was in April. It’s a heady scent and a heady feeling to be with him. I’ve only felt him a couple of times, but the feeling was strong. I learned later that the bedroom I had moved into after I ran away from home had been his bedroom when he was a teenager. I knew he had grown up in that house, which then went to his sister, but I assumed he slept downstairs with the rest of the family.

    I don’t know what I think of psychics or mediums. I think it’s the same as asking “what do you think about janitors or account executives?”. One’s feelings about the paranormal professions {usually 😉 } don’t center on the person, but on one’s beliefs about paranormal activity in general. If one is inclined to believe in ghosts and whatnot, then one might approach a medium/psychic with a more open mind than those who do not believe. This belief is not a blind faith in any self-professed psychic sort of person, but rather a mental shift of acceptance and desire to connect with those who are not gravity bound – a shift which could be seen as a welcome mat either for paranormal experiences or for folks very good at making money off other folks by using detective eyes & turning keen observances into spooky it-must-have-been-dad-because-no-one-else-knew-that-about-me feelings.

    I can’t wait to see how this story plays out in your other stories. It sounds like it was a positive, or at least benign, experience. And, it seems like your mom’s old boyfriend must have really loved your her. I’m glad you got to connect with him – always nice to find someone who loves the same person as you do, too.

  4. Oh well, would I? Yes. I would. I haven’t, though. But my grandmother was a curandera, a puerto rican healer/wise woman who read fortunes with playing cards and lit candles for spirits and mixed up brews and liniments for healing.

    I myself started reading tarot cards right around my…. yes, 19th birthday. I still read tarot cards, sometimes I even get paid for it. I’ve had my tarot read by others and I have had some communication with my grandmother through dreams, but I am not a strong enough medium to ever do that without some sort of tool (dreams or tarot).

    I’m not sure how my experience relates to your question, but i too am interested to see how it works out in your stories.

    1. mari

      Wow, I’m glad you did it, for the experience if anything. I’ve been to a couple of mediums when I was younger (heh, sure, 19-20), and astrologers and channelers and what not. No one’s been particularly accurate, but they’ve all been interesting. Don’t think I would bother going now, though I can’t for sure say why–possibly because I’m less interested in what happens to me.

  5. I think 19 is an age where we experiment. We can visit Tarot card readers and mediums no matter what are parents might think. When I was 19 I read Tarot cards and played with a Ouja board, and I still have a strong affection for such things.

    Sophie, your story is always fascinating. One day I’d like to talk more about it over coffee.

    rowena, your experience is in your art. I wish I knew if I had such a person in my family! And I miss reading my Tarot cards…

    Well, mari, I think the most to hope for is interesting. Accurate would be brilliant, but not what I need. I didn’t ask the medium about my future. Even if she could talk to my mother, I didn’t feel that my mother had any special access to what is to come. Or if she did, I don’t want to know.

      1. I know a pretty fair number of Libras. (And a pretty fair number who are tortured by indecision of one sort or another.)

        But personally, I think us Geminis are the absolute bees’ knees. 🙂

  6. I’ve never been to a medium individually or as someone at a seance. No objections to it (although I’m not sure I could sufficiently shut off my left brain), just haven’t sought it out or had the opportunity.

    The Missus reads Tarot, and that’s always interested me — as has astrology. To me, it stands completely to reason that distant stars and planets must exert some sort of influence over lives here — over *life*: all those gazillions tons of matter, with their cumulative gravitational force, their cumulative LIGHT, have to be “felt” at some level. Where my skepticism won’t shut up is that I can’t see how those effects could possibly be codified in a relatively simple way. (Yes, even with all those complex star charts and GPS coordinates etc. That’s all still relatively simple, compared to calculating the effects, on a select group of creatures living on a small planet, of massive gravity and light over stupendous distances and time.)

    Likewise, communicating with the afterlife. I’m with it up to a point. But I tend to buy into the cyclic view of life, of birth-life-death-(pause)-rebirth-etc. So although I’d love to talk to my dad, who went on his way 21 years ago, I tend to believe he’s not still waiting around to take my call, so to speak. It feels more likely to me that “he” has probably been recast in some other role, maybe one that will enable him to do more of what he’d really have liked to do and a little less of what was required (or settled for).

    Man. This post obviously touched a lot of people’s sensibilities.

    1. JES, I completely</b) agree with your cyclical view of life: birth-life-death-(pause)-rebirth. That's is EXACTLY what I think happens. The cyclical view is even going to show up in my NaNoWriMo work – that's how much I believe in it. (I'm reading a ton of philosophy right now to prep up for the existentialist and nihilist arguments that will inevitably pop up in there.) I can't divulge too much of how and when my dad died b/c it would out my real name, but I can say that he had active plans to "kidnap" my two brothers and me from our horrifically abusive Egg Donor (also his wife) at the time of his death. I can only imagine that when he got on the other side after his death, he felt like he had been locked in a glass box through which he could see all of the abuse he had tried so hard to prevent occur over and over to his kids. I believe this is the only reason he stuck around – to be there for us in whatever capacity was available to him. I would like for him to let go and go into the light but it's his decision. He was (is?) a good, kind, generous man & when I found out the lengths to which he had gone to try to save us (I was about 15 when I finally found out), my perspective on my place in life completely changed from bedraggled victim to hard-working, determined survivor. I'm glad he was able to see the wonderful changes he wrought and witness the success I've had in life. But, yeah, it's time for him to go on. He achieved in his death what he set out to do in his life & ended up being a phenomenal father. I'm a lucky girl.

    2. JES,
      You and I seem to feel the same about these things. And I don’t feel that my mother is out there waiting to talk to me. Wherever she is, she’s moved on. So to speak.

      And it never fails to surprise me which posts get the reactions.

      I’m glad that your father knows. You are lucky. love.

  7. Ha! You’ve beaten me on your own turf.

    But LEFT-HANDED Geminis are in another whole category. (I don’t know what category, mind you. Still…)

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