Last year, about a month or so before the first year death anniversary of my husband; I decided, with a huge amount of skepticism, cynicism, and hesitancy; to reach out for a phone session with a medium. At that point in time, I needed more than anything to feel that I could still connect with Don on some level, even if that meant a total stranger 3rd-party on the other end of a telephone. The woman that I spoke with was referred directly to me by another widow friend, and despite my natural instinct and desire to mock the entire process and validity of what these people do, the experience was beyond moving and stunningly accurate in it’s specifics of the life we shared. (You can read the blog I wrote about that reading here: http://www.ripthelifeiknew.com/2012/05/09/husband-finally-spoke-me-said-go-yankee-stadium/).
Well, here I am just passing the 2-year death mark, and a different widowed friend offered me the gift (it was a literal “gift” – she paid for my session) of having a phone reading / channeling, with the same woman she used after the death of her fiance Sergio, who was a firefighter who gave his life in the attacks in NYC on 9/11. After reading the touching story of her reading and her connection with both Sergio and this woman Elaine, I knew I had to speak with her too. (You can read my friend Tanya’s article about her session here: http://rebirthtanya.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/love-transcends-death.pdf)
As I dialed her number from my home phone this past Monday morning, knowing that I knew next to nothing about this woman and she knew nothing about me except that I know Tanya, I felt myself silently begging her, and begging Don, to please let me feel some sort of comfort. Some sort of connection. Some sort of calm waters. Some sort of … something.
What follows is the dialogue (from my notes and from memory, so it’s 97% exact) from pieces of our conversation, along with my inner-monologue reaction to the beautiful insanity that was taking place, connecting this life to that one. The cynic in me still refuses to go away, screaming: “Don’t fall for it! She says the same shit to everybody! You are just hearing what you want and need to hear! It’s fake!” But the other side of me, which grows a tiny bit bigger by the hour, cannot ignore the accuracy to which this woman spoke, the things that she simply couldnt have known (but did), and the tone of voice she used when talking about our very rare kind of love. That part of me takes me aside, pulls me in close, and whispers: “Believe …”
Me with my dear friend Tanya, at Camp Widow San Diego, 2013.
“Hello, Elaine?” My fingers and voice were shaking. I felt like I was 15 years old, and calling up some silly boy that I liked.
“Hello Kelley. Thank you so much for calling. Now you told me the other day when we made the session time, that it is your husband Don that you’d like to channel today, so I’m going to start by asking God to come into our reading, surrounding us with his golden light of love and protection. Today I ask that God is able to bring Don to you, and let you feel his love and his soul and his energy. I ask God to make me the messenger today to provide words that may help to heal your heart. In this I trust unconditionally. Amen …”
She seemed to be waiting for me to respond, and since I’m not a religious person at ALL, it didn’t occur to me immediately to repeat her, but eventually, after about 20 seconds or 3 hours, I caught on. I’m a little slow. “Amen”, I finally echoed.
“Oh Kelley. Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow … you have such a strong, strong spirit connection. It’s overwhelming. He is showing me silver. A long line of silver between you, which means there is a forever laser-beam between you, that goes from this world to the other world. Your connection and your love is way beyond a heart-to-heart connection. You have a true, rare soul connection. He is saying that he loved you from the start, from the very very start. Did you meet in an unconventional way? He is showing me that he knew it was special from the start, but he was afraid. That’s why he took so long to commit. He was scared, and he’s saying the only thing he regrets now is that he didn’t marry you sooner. That you didn’t have more time. What is Red? He is showing me red. Over and over with the red. Did he love you in red? Is someone’s name red? Anything with red?”
I am completely baffled and cannot think of even one thing that red might mean. “No idea”, I say, genuinely. “I don’t know what that means.”
“That’s okay. We can come back to it. He is throwing it down forcefully, almost as a validation that he’s here right now. Red. Red. It could mean passion, but I think its something else. He wants you to know that you really turned him on, you were like a gem to him, like a jewel. He says that even the way things ended with his life being cut short, he would do it all over again, just to have the short time that he had with you. You were everything to him. Do you have his wedding ring? He wants to know if you found it.”
Okay. My first, true “Holy Shit!” moment of this session. Let’s see where this goes.
“He is saying that he is so, so, so happy when you wear it on your hand, and he loves that you do that and how you honor him and love him always. But he said maybe you should put it on a necklace , get a chain for it and wear it all the time, close to your heart, so you never lose it again.”
About 2 months ago, I moved from Forest Hills Queens, to Flushing, Queens, to a different apartment, with another new roommate. About a week ago, I was looking in my nightstand to get out Don’s wedding ring, which I wear whenever I want to feel close to him, on my right hand, right on top of my own ring. Well, it was gone. It wasn’t in the box. I freaked, and then realized I really hadn’t seen it since I had moved, and maybe it somehow got stuck behind a wall in my old apartment. So I emailed my ex-roommate and told him the situation and asked him to please keep an eye out for me. 2 days ago, I found it. It was in a random bag, at the very bottom of one of the pockets, stuck inside a corner. The ONLY person that knew about that was my ex-roommate, whom I emailed. I did not mention it to anyone else ANYWHERE, nor did I write about it anywhere. How on earth did she know that? Plus, Don telling me to put his ring on a chain, is totally something he would say, because I was ALWAYS losing rings. He hardly ever bought me jewelry, but when he did, I would lose it. But me losing his wedding ring had never happened until the past few days. It literally JUST happened.
“Who loved music? Who had the connection with music? Was that your husband?”
“Yes. He was a huge music person, and it was a big part of our bond and our relationship. together. We met in a music chat room on AOL.”
“He is showing me music, he is playing music for you. Playing guitar music. For you.”
That is something he did very regularly; he would come home from work, sit in the living room, and strum one of his 7 guitars. He would call me into the room over and over and make me listen to chord progressions and songs he was writing. “Is that good, Boo? Does that sound good?” We would learn songs together and I would sing, and he would play. There is nothing I miss more than hearing him play music for me.
“Oh, he has a great sense of humor. He is showing me the red again. He says ‘Dont forget about the red. He says that something about red and a secret. Keep thinking about it. It might come to you. He is also showing me the silver again. Your wedding. He wants to go back to your wedding. It meant so much to him. He keeps saying family. Do you have a picture out right now in the room from your wedding day? With silver? Was your wedding dress made specifically for you, by a seamstress?”
“Yes. I had my dress made for me by a family friend who is a seamstress, and we had a Christmas-themed wedding, so my dress was silver. It was a very light silver with green emeralds on the neckline.”
“And you have a picture with you in that dress? That is what he is showing me. At first I thought he was showing me that you were going to get re-married, but the image I am seeing is you in a silvery wedding dress, and there is no guy in the image. It is him LOOKING at you, like he is looking at you on your wedding day.”
Well this is just motherfuckin’ weird now. My absolute favorite picture of us from our wedding day, is one where we are outside, and I am looking out at the camera, and he is looking directly AT me, with the most loving and proud look I have ever seen in his eyes, ever. I keep that picture on my nightstand, look at it every single night, and it was out in front of me, during our phone session.
“Okay. Lots of times, your loved one will send me images. Pictures. I see a lot of colors or images, and then I pass them along to you, what he is showing me, in hopes that they make sense. He is showing me a window, with snow falling. Sitting in a window, and snow. And then shoveling snow. And he is laughing.”
Our funny Christmas Card, taken after one of many New England snowstorms…
“Okay. Yes, that is two seperate things, and they both make total sense to me. He hated the snow”, I tell her, as I start to giggle at the memory of what she is referring to.
When I met Don, he lived in Florida, and then moved to NJ to be with me, after a 7-year long-distance relationship together. He was always telling me and joking around, but not really, that while he would move across the universe for me, move to stupid New Jersey, and do just about anything on earth for me, he would NOT EVER shovel snow. His exact words, several times, were: “I am not shoveling any goddamn snow!” And he never did. The other memory, about the window with snow falling, refers to Don’s absolute favorite thing to do every winter from our NJ apartment. We lived on a busy road that led to the Lincoln Tunnel and into NYC, and we paid a monthly fee to have our car parked in an indoor garage across the street. Well, every time there was a huge snowstorm, Don would gather me up, get some snacks and a drink, and we would sit in my bedroom window and watch and listen to all the many, many people either trying – and failing – to get up the huge hill in the snow with their cars, or trying to get out of a parking spot in the street, spinning their wheels over and over again. I’d say: “Arent you going to go out and help him, Boo?” He would just crack up even louder. “Help him? No way. Fuck that! This is way more fun! Look at this douchebag – thought he found a great parking spot – guess not, idiot! HAHAHA!” He found this endlessly entertaining, and that is why he was laughing, when he said the word snow, to Elaine.
“He is talking about family again. He thinks that family is so important. He is saying that you were his family, Kelley. You were his family. Its really important to him that you share this reading with your parents. He says thank you, and thank you to them. He never ever expected that he would be leaving this world. Never expected it, never. And so he wants to say thank you. Did he have a strained or strange relationship with his mother?”
“Yes”, I say, slightly laughing. “It was strained in some ways, and she was beyond strange in every way. He had a very dysfunctional family.”
“You were his family”, she says again. “But his relationship with his mother is being healed right now. It is healing. He forgives her and he forgives himself, too. It’s okay now.” This makes me feel warm and calm, because my husband always had so much guilt about leaving his mother behind in Florida, to move up here with me. It pained him, but it had to done, because of the controlling and manipulative person that she was, never letting him have his own life.
“He is hugging you. Im hugging myself right now, sort of, because he is wanting to hug you and hold you, just hold you. He loves you so much. He says that it is okay with him if you need or want to find comfort with someone else, and that he wants you to be happy. He is showing me a small child. It’s a boy. It could be a son, or someone you care for, but he is showing me a boy for you in your future that will be a huge part of your life. And he shows me new love for you. He says that no matter what, he will always, always be your number one protector. Always.”
I can’t even imagine myself loving someone else, so I tell her this and I start tearing up as I say it: “The idea of someone else makes me feel physically ill”, I say. “I don’t even know if I believe that anyone out there would ever love me or look at me the same way that he did, or make me feel the way he did.”
Me with some of Don’s friends at Clearwater Beach, Florida, scattering some of his ashes there in November 2011 …
“They won’t”, she responds quickly. “Nobody will ever make you feel like he did, and you won’t ever have another high soul-to-soul connection like you had with Don. You won’t have that again, but you WILL have a mate. He sees a partner for you, and you will be happy again, and he wants you to know that it’s okay and he wants it for you. But he also loves loves loves that you are still so in love with him, and he knows it will be a long time before you can love someone new. He knows. He loves you so much. I have a jewelry box here in front of me, and there is a picture of a pelican on it. He keeps directing my eyes to the pelican and saying ‘animals.’ Who had the connection with animals?”
“He did”, I say, happy that she is finally bringing up his biggest passion in life. Animals.
“He is showing me a dog. And something with the color blue. Like blue clothing or blue material, and a big dog, German Shepherd or Golden Retreiver, with a bone. Im getting an image of a dog with a bone. Did you have a dog?”
“No, we adopted cats together. I have cats. He always WANTED a dog, and he wanted a German Shepherd, but never had one. I don’t know why he is showing you a dog. Could it be that he is showing you that HE now finally has his dog, wherever he is now? “
“Yes, it could be that. But it’s definitely a dog he is showing. Now he is showing me that he wants to thank you for something else. Was he buried? Did you bury him somewhere?”
“No. He was cremated, but I had his ashes scattered in a few different places that were special to us, and some of them are still here with me. “
“Was one of those places Florida?” I am almost stunned by the question, and why she would just pull that location out of nowhere like that. “Yes, one of them was Florida. He lived there for a long time, and he lived there when we met.”
She sighs and says very genuinely: “He absolutely loves, loves, loves that you did that. That you flew his ashes to Florida, that you brought him there and that you knew what that would mean to him. Now he is showing me either a home or a condo, on the ocean. It is on the water. It is for you. Family. Lots of family and a condo on the water. He is showing me your wedding again or around your wedding, and then this condo, and water, and family.”
“My parent’s time-share on Cape Cod. The front side is on the ocean, back side is on the bay. We honeymooned there, and my parents drove up for the first night of our honeymoon and we all went bowling. That ended up being a huge joke between us. Who brings their parents on their honeymoon? And who goes bowling???” I start cracking up.
Dad and Don BOWL on our Cape Cod honeymoon ….
“Who is the Scorpio? Is there a Scorpio? Is that him? Is that Don? He is showing me the red again ….”
Oh. My. God.
“Yes, that is my husband. He was a Scorpio. November 6th.”
“FINALLY!” She says, as if victorious. “That is what the red was all about. Red is the color of passion and the color associated with Scorpio’s sign. It’s his way of validating that he is here. I don’t know why he would choose that as his way of validating, but hopefully it means something to you.”
It means EVERYTHING to me. So, remember about a paragraph or so above, when I said that Don had a very dysfunctional family? Yes. Well … without going into TOO much detail, because most of this will be in my book, and it would take pages and pages to explain here, but, my husband had two birthdays. Two birthdays. Everyone on earth, except for me and his mom and his two sisters, knew his “birthday” as being February 28th. But that was not his birthday. That was the public birthday that people knew of. His ACTUAL birth-date was November 6th. Why? Because my husband was the product of an affair. My husband’s mother, being the controlling and manipulative person she was, and not wanting Don’s rela father to know that he had a son, kept it secret from him and played it off to Don and everyone else, that he had the same father as his 2 sisters. The abusive asshole that Don grew up believing was his father, was actually no relation to him at all. When Don was 20 years old, his mother decided to inform him of who his real father was, a man named Neal Shepherd. Don’s mother , a head nurse in a hospital who had access to records and things like birth certificates, switched the dates on Don’s birth certificate, so that his “birth” would match up in the timing of him being her then-husband’s son. So, the date on his birth certificate read February 28th, and it was never changed. All documents and paperwork, even his DEATH certificate, says he was born on February 28th, but he wasn’t. He was born November 6th. Yes – this really happened – and no – it is NOT an old episode of “General Hospital.” Well, maybe it is, but it also happened to my husband. So, when Don met his real father for the first time at age 20, he also went to the courts and had his last name legally changed to Shepherd. I still have the paperwork that he left behind in our storage closet. Don told me this story once it became clear that we were “serious” with each other, and that he knew he could trust me. Nobody knew about his REAL birthday. Nobody. Just me. We would always celebrate the February birthday with family and friends, and then on November 6th, we would have a private celebration between us – we called it his “secret birthday.” The fact that Don would use that piece of information to validate that this was real – there is really no explanation for it – other than – THIS WAS REAL.
“He wants you to know that your heart will heal, Kelley. It will take a long time, and your love was so special, and it WILL go on forever and beyond that. Soul connection. So, so strong. But you will be happy. He is always with you, and hugging you still. He wants you to know that you will be alright.”
A couple of hours after the phone session, I was on my way into the city for my weekly session with my grief-counselor. As I was coming out of the subway, someone called my name. I turned around and it was this woman, Kate, who is an actress and photographer, and who I used to work with years and years ago. She was the photographer on our wedding day, and I literally hadnt seen her or bumped into her, ever, until now. Turns out she lives in the same building as my grief-counselor. I go there every single Monday for the past year, and I have never run into her. Not once. Until now. On this day. After talking so much about my wedding day, and Don bringing it up again and again in the reading.
Then, something even more bizarre. About a block from my counselor, after saying goodbye to Kate, I look out of my left eye, into the corner of the sidewalk. There is a man standing there, and he is very tall, like Don. He is wearing some type of uniform. I can’t tell if it’s a cop or EMT or some kind of security uniform, but it is blue. It is a blue uniform. He has a dog, and he is bending down and petting him. It is a German Shepherd type-dog, and the dog is chewing on something. It is a toy bone.
Maybe I was right. Maybe my husband finally got the dog that he always wanted. As I walked past the dog and into my counselor’s building, I felt the wind shift and the breeze change, and I felt him holding me tight. Hugging me forever.