As a child, being a medium was especially challenging. Kids can be cruel (at more than one slumber party I was locked in the basement) and my grandfather used my fear to punish me (I was dropped off in a cemetery once!). This came to a head in middle school, for it was during those awkward years that I, for the first time, lost people close to me: my grandfather and a childhood friend, Alice.
I was eleven. No child at that age has the emotional intelligence necessary to fully process the significance of death. The loss of grandpa and friend was complicated in that both were still hanging around!
I was confused, scared, grieving, all the things a child dealing with death goes through. And, I didn’t understand why grandpa and Alice were still there. They were dead. Adults in my life told me death is permanent and until I go to heaven, I wouldn’t see them again. I believed them. For one, they were smart, they were adults. Two, the people I lost previously, albeit they weren’t close, didn’t come around and visit. So I had assumed grandpa and Alice should be reunited with family and friends on the other-side.
I wondered why grandpa and Alice were still here. Were they evil and not going to heaven? They did after all feel different from the other spirits I had encountered. If they were evil, did that mean they could hurt me? The spirits I had always encountered emanated love and would go away if I asked. Grandpa and Alice did not.
Older and wiser now, I understand that initially after a person passes they typically “hang around” for at least his/her funeral or memorial service, sometimes longer. Some may call them “earth bound,” but as an eleven year-old child I thought they were “ghosts” who were “haunting” me for something terrible I had done.
What was so horrible that I could have done you may ask? I knew before grandpa and Alice went that were going to die that day. I remember hugging grandpa when he left on Thanksgiving and him telling me for the first time, “I love you,” that he was going home to die and then sitting on the top of the stairs when the phone rang that it was Grandma Pat with the news. I also remember the day Alice, she yelled at me in the lunch room that “I hate you” that I should apologize because I wouldn’t have another chance. Through my grief I felt guilt and responsibility.
This guilt was compounded for whenever I said anything about my grandfather or Alice’s passing, teachers and students gave me concerned, funny looks. To assist in dealing with the loss, my English teacher had us write and present a paper on how we dealt with sadness and who supported us most in dark times. I spoke of meditation and my spirit guide to which I received stifled laughs and snickers. My Science teacher also delivered a potent message to the class, telling us we were not to “make up tall tales or speak ill of the dead” and “no one could know this would happen.” All the while she looked in my direction. After those two incidents, I shut up and tried to ignore my gift.
Despite the negative feedback I received in school, I continued to benefit from the support of my family. After my grandfather’s passing, Eugene (my grandfather’s cousin) took me aside and comforted me. He informed me that like me, he knew grandpa was going to die and that Lois, my grandmother was waiting for him. He also told me it would be ok. It made me feel better, but I also knew at that time I needed to keep things quiet. It’s at that point I decided to fly under the radar, which I did for many years.