fortune tellers


I root for each fortune teller I meet.

Say her name. Lucy. Lucia. Say it. Mention her.

photo by ManWithAToyCamera.


I am like a magpie, and their blinking neon sign the shiny thing I must peck. I am drawn to the gypsy caravan, the crystal ball, the smell of sage and incense, the Zoltar machine, and aura of pure indigo. Each one talks about my failing writing career and my husband, artwork and my marriage, how I myself am psychic, and destined to be a reader myself. Nothing about the daughter that died.

Channel her. Speak her words, share (what must be) her stilted, strange wisdom of never having breathed, yet so grieved. Channel her.

The five buck psychic asks me for a question, and I tell her about Lucia. How she died in me, and how my husband wants another baby, and I am scared this baby will die too. Right before he is born. (This was eight months out from her death, but it feels like today.) I wanted to know why she died. Science failed me. There is no physical reason my daughter died, but surely, there is a metaphysical one. I found the five buck psychic on-line. She sends me her reading four days later. She tells me that Lucia is a Buddha and that she chose me for her last life, so she could heal old wounds, the ones that need the comfort and unconditional love of a womb experience. And she knew that I would be strong enough to handle her death. It was the soul contract we made. I read her email aloud on the way to the airport. We were flying to Panama for a week, taking our grief on vacation.

"Do you find that comforting?" I asked my husband. Unsure if I should be offended or reassured.

"Yes. It is comforting." We were comforted for the rest of the day. The next day, we ceased being comforted and were back to relentless discomfort of baby-death, grief, angst, fear, anxiety, and bitterness.

Still, I find that idea most comforting of all the ideas posited by the religions of the world--that my baby is a holy woman, a wise soul, an awakened being, a Buddha. Her soul released from suffering. That I gave her unconditional love, that she choose this life because I was strong and loving and earth mother-y. Further, I found the idea that I choose this life comforting. Of course, it arrogantly supports the vision I have of myself as capable, loving, selfless, in control, powerful, rather than the truth of it which is that I am chaotic, frightened, humbled, mediocre, out of control, powerless. I found out later that this idea is a Hindu understanding of stillbirth, that the baby who chooses to be stillborn is in their last life before achieving moksha, before being released from the samsara, the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

Still, that first psychic gifted me with a moment of solace. It wasn't enough, though, I wanted to hear about her from her. I wanted to hear her voice. And so I began my hero's journey through the metaphysical world. In the last three years, I have consulted psychics, tarot readers, astrologers, fortune tellers, palmists, hair readers, angel channels, auric interpreters, shamans and medicine women every few months hoping for a message from my daughter.  And not one of them, until two weekends ago, mentioned my daughter without my prompting. She is gone. Her energy doesn't reside in mine. But I still rooted for them. I thought hard as they pulled cards, sat still in meditation.

All of my writing, my artwork, my entire life changed after I pushed her dead six pound body out of my vagina, surely you can see this on my soul, in my aura. It must be etched in gold, or charred and blackened in the parts of me that once shone. Surely, you must feel it when you touch my hair, look into my palm, read the tea leaves. I can see it, even the cheesemonger can see it when I ask for a pound of provolone. Just say her name. I believe you can.

I watch these psychic shows when no one is around. They are my guilty pleasure. The one with the lady with long fingernails, talking like a mobster. She channels stillborn children here and there, and despite myself I weep, blubber almost. I watch her in the middle of the night, on-demand, so no one can see me almost blubbering. It is babylost porn. She tells the grieving mothers mundane things mostly, confirmation that their children are around them. I just want that. A confirmation of something--that she lived, that she died, that we grieve, that she is a person with a soul, or rather perhaps that I am.


We wear headphones and microphones. It is the Mind-Body Expo and we are nestled on the second floor on the football stadium, tucked in the corner next to the Tibetan arts table. Here there are psychics and soul artists, channels and astral journeyman, reiki masters and healers in modalities I have never heard of, tables of jewelry purporting to open your third eye or connect you to the Akashic records. My sister signs up to see a shaman women. She is barefoot and beats a drum. I waited for the "World Renown Psychic Medium," as her sign states. I read laminated newspaper articles on her table while I waited. She found many missing persons. Well, three.

I have a missing person.

She whispers, "Can you hear me?"

"Yes." My own voice startles me. She tells me about her process and that she will be talking fast. I get a chill and she begins. She tells me that my grandparents are stepping forward.

She holds my hands in her own, and says, "Your grandfather is here. He is holding up two fingers, then a third. Do you have two or three children?"

 I gulp.

"I have two living children, and a child that died."

"Okay. I see you have two in spirit. The miscarried one is a boy. He said he liked the name Michael." That is the only name on our boy list during this last pregnancy so convinced I was that the growing dot in me was a girl. Michael is my grandfather's name. The hairs are standing up on my neck, and in my gut, I know that is true now.

"Your daughter will be reincarnated as your oldest daughter's first child, and your son will be your second grandchild. They will be part of your family again. They have always been part of your family."

The tears fall unself-consciously. I want this all to be true. I want Lucia to be a Buddha, while simultaneously and selfishly, I want her to come back.  I want to hold her again, some day, even as an old woman. I want to bathe her, and feed her rice and beans. It wasn't her voice, but it was the hope that I may see her again. And maybe that was enough.


Tell me about your experience. Have you consulted a psychic, channel, medium, palm reader, tarot reader, or other metaphysical worker for insight into your grief? What were you told? Was it comforting or disconcerting? If not, have you considered it? What holds you back?