Like everyone who loses someone to death, I miss Alberto so much. I move along like an ant on an anthill, but life has forever changed. My spiritual friends tell me he is always with me. They tell me he is in such a beautiful place that he would not want to come back. Someone else tells me he is gone for good, that he has not left his spirit here. I want him to be here, to believe that the spirit world hovers just beneath the surface of our earthbound reality.
All questions of religion, incarnation, or believing, or not, that there is something more than our short time on this earth, become like butterflies flying around my head. My belief system is loose regarding God. I was raised a Catholic. I am a spiritual person at a basic decent level. I love life, filled with experiences and people and places and things. I believe in being kind and generous. I'm no angel, but I am a good person.
I never was drawn to psychics or mediums, much in the same way I am not drawn to religion. I read my horoscope. I say my prayers. Many people I love have died over the years, and while sad about their passing, I remember them, but my grieving came to an end quickly. Alberto is different. The pain I carry daily is the most powerful thing I have ever felt, besides the love I felt for him while he was living and we were together.
So I find myself reading "widow lit", and watching hokey TV shows about death and the afterlife. I would love to see the art exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in NY called "Death Becomes Her". As I mindlessly flip channels I hover at the show "Long Island Medium". The only other TV medium I ever watched was on "I Love Lucy", when Vivian Vance played Madam Ethel Mertzola in the seance episode. Come in Tilly...
|Madame Ethel Mertzola|
At first I would just flip by Theresa Caputo doing her thing. The hair; her manicure; the beloved NY accent; the sad people. None of it appealed. But one day I actually watched one episode, then another. Theresa seemed genuine, a person with excellent intuition, and some solid healing common sense psychology that was a comfort to the people she was giving readings to. She had definitely struck a chord. The show is a monster success that has begot two books written by her, and also an impressive road show where she speaks to the dead in major theaters across the USA in sold out performances. Along with her success have come the haters and the de-bunkers.
I had no burning desire to see her or buy her books. She was just a part of the preoccupation in the lexicon of death and mourning that I am dabbling in. So when a friend told me she was making a return engagement to New Orleans, and would I like to go, I said, sure, why not. It was touch and go regarding the tickets, and I really wasn't counting on it happening, just letting the universe do its thing and the deciding (I told you I was spiritual).
So the day before the show, my host for this event, a sweet friend, said he had the tickets, in fact he had an extra and I could invite a guest. I invited a friend who was very close to Alberto, and is very close to me. My host had seen the show six months ago, and I was very touched that he would sit it through it again. Neither one of them were there to have Theresa bring someone they lost forward, but I was wanting to hear from Alberto.
Theresa works a crowd of 3000 people. The stage is set simply. A zebra area rug, a stand with lighted candles and a bouquet of flowers, and a large projection screen with her logo. She comes out to an audience made up of fans from her official fan club and they love her. It's a rock star moment. The hair, the nails, the tight red cocktail dress, and her famous very high heels entirely studded in rhinestones.
She warms up the audience for about ten minutes, explaining her gift, disclosing her fees for doing group and private readings (very nominal and given to charity), her fan club perks, and her naysayers who say she Googles everything. She says there are a lot of spirits wanting to "talk" and that sometimes they "piggyback" one another creating multiple readings.
I am educated about psychic tricks of the trade, and Theresa uses them. She may ask "Who's lost their father?" and fifty hands will shoot up near her. Still she zones in on one or two people and asks questions that create a relevant personal experience for the person. "Spirit" is talking to through Theresa.
The most profound thing for me was the pain in this theater. Three thousand people grieving and missing their loved ones. You could cut the emotion with a knife pulled from the heart. I had tears brimming. You could hear a pin drop. This was no carnival like "Let's Make a Deal" with people raising their hands, or shouting "Pick me, pick me...". There were people of all ages from children, to young adults, to middle aged, and senior.
Some of the readings were so tragic: Decapitation, murder, kids dying, a sister who bled to death, and on and on. Theresa is a wise cracking New Yorker (which I love), and while totally sincere and sympathetic, she could lighten a moment with humor. And she runs around the huge theater in those very high sparkly heels with extraordinary energy and purpose.
If she stops and picks someone, a video camera is there immediately and someone hands the person a microphone. The image goes up on the huge screen on the stage so everyone can see. Her crew is phenomenal. The show is two hours long with no intermission, and taking pictures, or videos, or using a phone is strictly forbidden, and the ushers and her crew constantly police this.
She starts off with the VIP seats close to the stage and then makes her way to the back of the orchestra section of the theater. She had some fun with three young women wearing tiaras. They looked like they came straight from a bridal shower that they were celebrating on Bourbon Street. The gave Theresa a tiara which she wore for the rest of the night. The audience adores her. The first readings are pretty standard, but meaningful. She moves along at a good clip.
She makes it up to the very top of the balcony. I was sitting at the front of the balcony, so she was behind, and could only be seen up on the video screen. Two of the most wrenching readings took place there. She dramatically says, "I'm getting a decapitation". They audience gasps. Fifty hands definitely did not shoot up. Of course skeptics might say this is the classic "plant" that mediums often utilize. Who knows? It was a heavy dramatic reading.
Then "Spirit" piggybacked to a man a couple of rows ahead. Theresa asked about a brother and a carjacking. The brother had been murdered. This was a difficult reading. Theresa could not get a handle on it, and the man was very quiet and clearly in pain. She spent a lot of time trying to make connections for this man, but had to give up, clearly disappointed that she could not get him to understand what "Spirit" wanted him to know.
She moved on. You heard her say to her crew, "Is this mike on?" Then we overheard her talk about how bad she felt that she couldn't get it, and noticed someone in the row doing a video on their phone, and how that distracted her. She was clearly pissed. Then she popped out from the door that was at our balcony level. I was sitting in the first row in the middle of a section with an iron railing in front of me.
Theresa was moving fast, with her crew running after her. I think she just wanted to get out of the balcony. And then it happened. She stopped dead in front of me. Our eyes locked. I knew she was going to speak to me! I could feel the excitement of my two friends next to me.
She looks at me. "Who lost her husband?" I say very softly. "I did". Video camera lights, and a microphone thrust into my hand. I am calm, but feeling unreal.
T - "Did you cook breakfast for your husband"? (My thought bubble is this is a question for every widow).
Me - "Correct"
T - "When you have breakfast do you sit in his chair, in the place where you served him his breakfast'? (Again, kind of generic, but I go there).
Me - "Correct"
T - "Did you always tell your husband that you would go before him"?
Me - "Yes".
Now this one kind of got to me, even though this is the kind of a common conversation couples have. Still it was a little joke I used to say to Alberto all the time. He would often have me be his "gofer", because he couldn't bend down, or would tire easily. I would tease him and say why me, why do I have to fetch, to run, to bend, and he would say, because you are the younger prettier one. I would laugh and tell him, "The fickle finger of fate will probably get me and I will go before you, and you will live to be a hundred years old".
T - "He wants you to know that he is very sorry he left you."
Then she was gone. She told us at the start of the show that after a reading in this setting people wonder why they didn't ask something, or say something while the reading was happening. They kick themselves thinking they missed an opportunity. She said not to think that way, that it's all good, even if you don't get a reading that night, to know your loved ones are always there for you. Her message is one of healing. She is a guide to getting people to not let the pain and loss make them so sad they find no joy in life.
Of course I could explain all of this away. The exchange was not extraordinary. She didn't Google me. I didn't buy the tickets where my name could be Googled. My host didn't pay her to stop in front of me. I wasn't sitting there sending out the vibe "Pick me pick me". I was emotionally charged, just as everyone else in that room was.
But she picked me out of 3000 people.
Did I feel Alberto was there? No. I felt Theresa was very much there. Was I disappointed? No. Was I exhausted by the evening? Yes. And I cannot imagine how Theresa Caputo feels at the end of these shows, all that pain and sorrow washing over her and through her. The show is a physical and emotional tour de force.
As I said, I am not disappointed and I hope you are not disappointed with my humble experience either. I am going to get on the very, very long waiting list for a private reading with her.
After the show my friend and I talked about the whole thing. She feels Alberto left the day he died (she was there with me). She wants dearly for him to be here from the spirit world, but she thinks he is gone. Where? This she does not know. My sister asked me what do I want. It was a good question. Beyond the irrational childish thing of just wanting him back, I don't know what I want. Do I want his love for me, my love for him, to transcend all, so that we can still communicate with one another?
I have only had a few horrible dreams of Alberto in his coffin. What does this mean? He is with me everyday in my sorrow and longing and pain in missing him. Every facet of my life is imbued by our history. Maybe this is the only connection to him for now. I want to feel joy and not pain.
I have gratitude for the life and love I had with Alberto. I can and do count off blessings that I had then and I have now. One thing I know for sure is that we all lose someone, or many, that we love, and we all experience the pain and loss in the same way. It felt comforting to be in that audience of 3000 who understand and don't judge and feel life and loss, just as many of you do. We comfort each other in the universality of being human. What do you think?