I Want to Be Approached by a Psychic Medium
Caitlin Bitzegaio longs for messages from her late mother—but will only trust them if they arrive unsolicited.
I don’t believe in psychics or mediums or psychic mediums, but I’m hoping one randomly approaches me and gives me a message from my dead mom. I know that doesn’t make sense, but I somehow think I can trust a psychic medium who randomly approaches me, whereas one I seek out—with a credit card—will inherently be bogus. But if a medium is just so overwhelmed that they feel like they must approach me and give me a message, that would have to be real. Why else would they do it?
On Long Island Medium— a show about being a psychic and also living on Long Island, both being very curious lifestyles to most of the world—Theresa Caputo sometimes randomly approached people. Theresa has a trademark haircut, something that’s rarely mentioned as a compliment. Before she died of cancer four years ago, my mom and I would watch the show together and I’d regale her with my theories of how Theresa was able to read people, the tricks she was using, how she knew what she knew. “I think she knows because it’s real,” my mom responded. Well, if my mom believed in mediums, shouldn’t I? She’s the dead one. She’s got the inside scoop. Then again, she told me that when she was alive, as with everything she ever told me, and we’re back to my original problem: I can’t talk to my dead mom.
I’m hoping a medium randomly approaches me and gives me a message from my dead mom. I know that doesn’t make sense, but I somehow think I can trust a psychic medium who randomly approaches me, whereas one I seek out—with a credit card—will inherently be bogus.
My favorite TV medium, though, is Tyler Henry of Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry. (So does the law, like, mandate that you have to put your geographic location in your psychic medium TV show or what?) I like this one so much that I watched it on the E! Online embedded media player, which is by far the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever revealed in writing. Tyler’s shtick is that he only reads celebrities, but he’s too young to know anything about the stars that he reads, so you can trust his authenticity. The show’s concept basically dares you to claim that anyone who was born in the 90s has any preconceived knowledge of Boy George. Tyler allegedly doesn’t even know who he is talking to before the reading, although he did recognize Melissa Joan Hart immediately and described Nene Leakes as “from Glee.” So if you don’t believe him when he says he’s psychic, please believe him when he says he’s gay.
Whatever psychic medium show you prefer, they all tend to unfurl in similar ways. None of these shows have the mediums say “Hey, Grandpa’s calling!” They give you details about the person so you are the one who puts together who is trying to contact you. Tyler’s reading of TLC’s T-Boz is a particularly good example. He says he’s seeing a “weird death” of a “female” and there’s “music symbols” around someone with a “weird nickname.” The intoxicating thing is that we’re all ahead of him. That’s the real trick of the show: we know more than the psychic the whole time. The spirit visiting T-Boz is happy no one else died in “the car accident in Central America.” He never says the name Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and neither does she. This effect is amplified as the celebrity’s family watches from another room and all recognize the same details at the same time. The real connection is between us, the people watching.
What would Tyler say to me that would signal my mom was trying to contact me? “Um, ok, so there’s like…a woman…she claims she has the ability to smell carbon monoxide even though it famously has no odor?” Oh my god, Mom! Ultimately, the message of every reading is “Your bond is stronger than even my psychic abilities!” That’s the appeal. All we’re doing is remembering these people, really. When Tyler sits with you, you have permission to give importance to your grief, to believe memories are messages. Most of the YouTube comments on the T-Boz clip point out that everything Tyler says is publicly available information about one of the biggest bands of all time. However, many comments are some version of “I miss Left Eye.” The show did communicate between this world and Left Eye, just maybe not the way it was advertised. Memories are messages, just from the past, not the other side.
Before she died of cancer four years ago, my mom and I would watch Long Island Medium together and I’d regale her with my theories of how Theresa was able to read people, the tricks she was using, how she knew what she knew.
What any spirit on these shows finally wants to say is usually some version of “I’m no longer in pain,” or “You did the right thing,” or “I’m with Aunt Lilly now,” or whatever. It’s never negative like “You’ve brought shame on this family since my death,” or whimsical like “You’ll never believe what a nice guy Salvador Dalí is.” I’m not afraid to say ghosts need a punch-up writer. The material is stale. No matter really: the actual message the spirit wants to communicate is largely treated as an afterthought anyway. We want to hear from our moms, not listen to them. You know, like before.
I think this about paying for a psychic too: even if the person is truly a scam artist, at least I would be there sitting with my mom, to the extent that the endeavor basically would be something that’s about her. Even if the psychic lies to me, they have to think about her. I’d be paying them to do it, but still, in that moment, it’s about her and it’s about us. The farther I get away from my mom's death, the fewer moments like this there are. Regular living people remember less about her as the years go by, but a psychic, if they were real, would be unaffected by the passage of time. Four years after my mom died, I’m scared that normal people think it’s weird that I’m seeking out this connection to her. A psychic wouldn't think it’s weird. Psychics do this all the time. Psychics seem like a no judgment zone.
To normal people, there’s a point in time at which it might seem weird that I’m sill seeking out that connection, but not to a psychic. A psychic wouldn't think it’s weird. Psychics seem like a no judgment zone.
I’m not afraid to say ghosts need a punch-up writer. The material is stale. No matter really: the actual message the spirit wants to communicate is largely treated as an afterthought anyway. We want to hear from our moms, not listen to them. You know, like before.
To be honest, when you think of engaging a medium to talk to your loved one, you kind of think “Well, what’s the harm? Just try it.” The thing is: I have a feeling there is harm. Not to me directly, perhaps, but encouraging people to charge for the prospect of connecting to the dead seems unsavory at best. I think a lot of people are connecting not to their dead loved ones, but American Express to get a bigger line of credit to support their psychic habit. This seems like an industry that’s unethical to support. You’ll remember I said Theresa Caputo sometimes approaches people randomly. She mostly is paid a lot of money for private readings and the waitlist is long. It’s always surge pricing when you’re grieving. You’re in the rain and you’re taking the bus.
For the record, I don’t necessarily think all psychics are con artists. I think most believe in themselves and they think they’re helping.
Beyond vouching for their veracity, a psychic just randomly approaching me scratches another itch. We all have sort of weird fantasies like this, where we don’t really put ourselves out there to try something, but we somehow reap the rewards anyway. I guess I just described the novel concept of being lazy, but it’s more than that. We want to feel like we’re destined for something. We’re called.
Grief would be easier with an escape hatch. It’s impossible not to consider that there might be ways out of the finality of all this, but also equally impossible for me to not conclude: there’s really no way out of this.
The truth is I really don’t believe in psychic mediums. I try to. I would like to. I just don’t. Grief would be easier with an escape hatch. It’s impossible not to consider that there might be ways out of the finality of all this, but also equally impossible for me to not conclude: there’s really no way out of this.
By writing this, I already destroyed any casualness I could have if a psychic medium approaches me. It won’t be destiny, it will be a coda to a story I drummed up in my own imagination. With little faith in psychics, I am left just believing in myself. But if the psychic medium does wind up approaching me, what’s fun is that we’ll both have seen it coming.
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