Okay, mama is pissed. After seeing and hearing about John Edwards…not the politician…the psychic medium… for the last several years, I decided to go see him. For the last month or so I have seen him everywhere, on every channel, like he was willing me to come see him. I watched him connect Kim Kardashian with her deceased father on her reality show. I even saw him sway Mr. Big Texan himself, Dr. Phil, on his talk show. I decided to look him up, and low and behold, he was coming to Atlanta. I started thinking that maybe all of my television coincidences had been a…sign? Like most of you, I have lost loved ones. Many of us feel and think that they are still around us. Some people say their loved ones visit them in their dreams, while others swear by a smell or a flickering light.
Over the years, I have seen a few psychics. There has never been a rhyme or reason as to when, or why, I chose to visit them. It could have been on a whim, or just for sport. To me, psychics are like a girl’s gay best confidant, everyone should have one.
This is the short version of my day with John, and you unlike me, get to keep your 150.00 dollars.
Let me start by saying I do think John has talent. I think he does hear things and may know things from beyond this life. In my opinion, he is in a league of his own. He is not reading people’s palms or predicting if your boyfriend will come back; he can speak with those who have already passed over. I wanted to invite my cray, cray friend with me. She totally believes in psychics and is game for just about anything. Years ago after a horrible break up she called a psychic in San Francisco every day for an entire month. Sister believed her too. She even bought healing rocks and put them around her bath each night. When she couldn’t go, I called my other friend, who like me, had lost her father. She bought a ticket and we made plans to go to lunch and see John. At the last-minute she had to cancel, so my back-up was my mother. My mom is a wise ass, but an entertaining one.
My mom and I pull into the venue an hour early hoping to get front row seats. We take the elevator down to the hotel meeting rooms. There is a line wrapping around the ballroom already. My mom sits her happy ass down on the chair to “rest” while I am left to stand in a long line with a bunch of believers. As we all stand patiently in line, there is a John Edwards staffer pushing a pamphlet called “the five”. From what she is yelling overhead, it seems “the five”, is an elite club you can join for a mere five bucks a day, or month, I can’t remember. If you are lucky enough to get in the club, you can win a personal reading from John in the near future and also meet him after the show. Otherwise, you are placed on an email list where you are privy to his written thoughts and upcoming events. I pass.
When I get to the front of the line, I am greeted and ushered to my seat amongst the 700 other people scurrying in to find their seats. As my Mom and I are walking in she smirks, “I see getting here early helped!” My mom is along for the ride, but she has not yet been convinced that he actually speaks to the dead.
“Come on sister. We can take those seats in the middle aisle row.” I point out. I hustle over to my seat. My mother takes her time and talks to any and every person she sees. Think Paula Dean at a picnic. She is now sitting down and talking to her new neighbor about her necklace and how my mom thinks she could make one. I am focused. It is now 3pm. John will be starting at 4. The room is a chatter with every walk of life discussing what is about to happen. It is about 80 percent women and the rest are husbands both gay and straight. There are first timers like us, parents who have lost children, and children who have lost parents. The believers and “the fives” who already know what to expect. John is running a little late, but at around 4:15, he suddenly appears on stage. The room goes absolutely quiet as if the Dali Lama has just appeared. He opens with who he is and how his gift works. He says he cannot help who comes through, and that unfortunately, not everyone will get a reading. The disclaimer does not apply to me, I will get a reading! After a long overview he begins by asking who wants to ask him a question. Hands shoot up across the room. I don’t raise mine. I am waiting to be chosen. John picks people at random. Microphones are given to those chosen and they are told to remain standing. A frail middle-aged woman is chosen to go first. “My son was killed 2 weeks ago. Does he have anything to say to me?” All heads turn to listen. There are audible gasps, and for a moment, I feel like I am in a support group where all is forgiven and out in the open. John is wonderful with her. Although her son does not come through he talks to her at length about loss. The question and answer segment seems to drag on from there. People are asking mundane questions peppered with specific questions about their loved ones. By 5pm someone has finally come through from the other side. He is a son and brother of two women whom are now standing. They nod as John speaks. Tears are flowing. They seem to be in tandem with what he is saying. Yes, he died suddenly. Yes, he was on the shorter side. Then, John asks if the deceased was missing a finger. My mom leans over to me and whispers. “Did he just ask if her son was missing a digit?” The daughter speaks up. “No. He had all of his fingers.” The reading starts to stall. John keeps asking about the finger. He says the missing digit has significance and probes them to think. Finally the daughter at a loss (no pun intended) speaks. “Um, the other day I was at Chick-fil-a and noticed the cashier was missing a finger.” She says it almost as a question. John smiles. “I am the same way. I notice things and seem to fixate on differences in people as well. Don’t be embarrassed. The fact that you noticed the missing finger is just your brothers way of saying he saw it too.” I look over at my mom who wants to giggle. Is this guy for real? Over the next hour he seems to connect with three other families. He tells one lady that her mother wants to ask her about being a nudist. She smiles and says she understands. In between readings John likes to reminisce about his own losses. He likes talking about himself. We have that in common. I am growing more and more impatient. The clock says that it is ten minutes til 6. Pamphlet girl tells John he has one last chance for questions. My hand goes up fast this time. I feel like the little boy in the Christmas Story wanting his essay to get chosen. Pick me. Pick me. I am thinking. I re-adjust and am now sitting on my knees in hopes of my head being over the crowd. Maybe he just hasn’t seen me, I think. He can’t connect if he can’t see me, damn it. My mom is egging me on. “Get your hand up further, honey.” He picks one last person, and it is not me. I slump down in my chair exhausted. My mom winks at me. I am pissed. John is telling everyone to rub their hands together to make energy. He wants everyone to know that we were all guided here by our loved ones. He tells us that they are among us, and not to lose hope, and some other shit. I leave how I came, with no answers.
A few days later, I am in the line at Chick-fil-a to try their new tortilla soup that all of the Buckhead Betty’s have been raving about. They are out of the soup. I start to laugh as the cashier takes my order. Perhaps, I am the cray, cray one. My dad is with me everyday. I don’t need John Edwards to throw me a bone, what I need is my 150.00 back and some tortilla soup!