My whole life I have always been a sceptic. Even as a small child I would quiz my parents about Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy. “But how exactly does he fit down the chimney?” I would ask them, “How does the tooth fairy know where we live?”. I would watch my parents with narrowed eyes as they relayed the stories of the magic key, the special fairy dust, studying their faces for the slightest giveaway, the smallest clue to prove them wrong. And as an adult, I have carried that scepticism with me.
So when my friend told me that she had been to see a psychic I was hugely sceptical. I had been brought up to believe that these people were simply con artists, manipulators who preyed on vulnerable people who desperately needed answers, comfort or words of advice. My Dad declared it “Utter nonsense!”, “Voodoo claptrap!” and various other non-complementary adjectives. I imagined a crazy lady with a silk head scarf, a crystal ball and an eerie voice telling me to be careful when I cross the road! And yet finding myself single, still struggling with the loss of Joseph, and perhaps just curiosity getting the better of me, I agreed to go along.
I was disappointed to find that the psychic looked completely normal, no headscarf or crystal ball in sight, and she immediately launched into a well rehearsed spiel. Did I know Albert, Fred, Ernie? Elizabeth, Joan, Betty? Surely one of them must be a dead relative?! She told me very non-specific things about my life, having clocked the lack of a wedding ring, how I would meet a tall, dark stranger, that I would buy a new house and come into money. There had been no mention of Lewis, or of Joseph, and I had left feeling very disappointed and quite cheated out of my fifteen pounds!!
A little while later, when my friend mentioned going to see another psychic I had deemed it a waste of money. My first experience had put me right off and I assumed that the second would be the same. Either way, due to the powers of persuasion, I went along having given no name or address, no phone number to trace. She didn’t know me from Adam and yet as soon as I walked into her house I felt as though she could see straight through me. As I sat down at her kitchen table she seemed preoccupied by the space beside me, smiling away and mumbling under her breath. I had stifled a laugh, wondering what the hell I had walked into, visions of The Sixth Sense and, “I see dead people” floating into my head.
“There’s a little boy stood beside you,” she told me, nodding towards the empty space, “He’s holding tight onto your leg.” I had nervously looked down at my leg, my scepticism not allowing me to believe it for even one moment. “He’s telling me that he is six”, she told me, “He has brown eyes, brown hair and he is looking at you with so much love”. My heart had skipped a beat, Joseph would have been six, and yet he was just a baby? Surely that wasn’t possible? She smiled again at the space beside me, her eyes filling with tears, “He says that he has grown in the spirit world, that he wasn’t able to stay with you.” And as I battled between fact and something I couldn’t possibly understand, she reached across for my hand and told me, “His name is Joseph. He’s holding a little elephant”. And at that moment I felt as though I was going to crash to the floor, my head spinning as I struggled to hold it together.
There are only two people in the whole world who know what we placed inside Josephs coffin on the night we said Goodbye – a little Humphreys elephant toy that had been Lewis’s. Nobody else could ever know that, nobody else shared that moment with us, just my ex husband and I. And at that moment, with tears streaming down my face, I had tentatively reached out to touch the space beside me, closing my eyes and praying with every fibre of my being that it was true, that he was still beside me, that he knew how loved and missed he was. And I had left there feeling as though the great chains I had carried around my neck for the last six years had loosened a little, allowing me to breathe again and, most of all, to believe again.
Years later in 2013 the same friend told me about an amazing pshycic she had seen, one who had mentioned her family by name and told her things that nobody else could possibly know. Now married, with Eva and Megan safely a part of our family, I felt that I was no longer in need of answers, that I didn’t need direction in life nor further comfort or advice. I was very aware that should she not mention Joseph it may be upsetting but also aware that if she should, it could equally hinder my progress. And yet intrigued, I had gone along, telling myself if nothing else it would be a laugh to hear what she had to say. Again I had given no name, no personal details, I had even with-held my number when booking and parked my car three streets back so she couldn’t see the children’s car seats! And instantly, as before, I knew that this lady was very special, the way that she looked at me was as though she knew every single thought in my head.
She correctly told me that I had been married twice, that I had four children, two boys and two girls and went as far as telling me their names and even the names that I had considered calling them. She knew their individual personalities and characters, events that we had shared together, a whole host of things that nobody else could ever have known. And as I sat there, quickly jotting down notes as she spoke, wanting to remember every single thing to relay to Gaz when I got home, I barely even registered her say, “You do know you’re having a baby boy?”. I had looked up, my face must have been a picture, “What did you say?” I had asked, thinking I must have misheard. “Ohhhh,” she had looked at me with a smile creeping across her face, “You didn’t know that you’re pregnant? It’s a little boy, Joseph sent him for you.” Instantly my body had sprung goosebumps, a lump rising in my throat, “I’m not pregnant.” I told her, knowing full well that I was on the pill and it was physically impossible. And I had left, tears pouring down my face on the drive home.
“She told me that Joseph had sent me a little boy,” I told Gaz that night, “And now that will never happen.” I had wallowed, knowing that we had fully agreed no more babies. “You better not be bloody pregnant!!” Gaz had told me, and I had put it to the back of my mind, telling myself that clearly she wasn’t as good as I had first thought. So just a few weeks later you can imagine our surprise when I discovered that I was infact pregnant, that he was indeed a little boy and most of all I truly believe that she was right, that Joseph had sent him to me. And it seemed like the perfect miracle.
And these days, I’m still sceptical. I still think that there must be a way that they know these things, that there are ways around it, methods that they have of drawing information out of you, reading your body signals and thoughts in your head. There is no denying that these things defy explanation, that they are weird and wonderful, both scary and special in equal measures. Part of me wants to just go with it, to allow myself to believe the knowledge that Joseph is still around, that he is never far away, And yet part of me will forever question it and tell myself that there has to be another explanation.
Do I believe in psychics? I’m still not entirely sure. Do I believe in miracles? Absolutely.