On Friday morning, October 1, 2004, I had butterflies in my stomach. I was giving a reading to a family who had lost their daughter. I was not told her age or how she died. I was given only her name–Odessa. This family sought from me a sense of peace, and I wanted to prove to them that their daughter was still very much alive.
Julie Beischel, Ph.D. referred Odessa’s family to me. Dr. Beischel is the Assistant Director of VERITAS, a research program of the Human Energy Systems Laboratory in the psychology department at the University of Arizona. VERITAS Director Gary Schwartz, Ph.D. and Dr. Beischel study mediums, like myself, to test the hypothesis that the consciousness (or identity) of a person survives physical death.1
As part of her research, Dr. Beischel joined Odessa’s mother, father, and maternal grandparents at my home that Friday morning.
“I want you to know your daughter Odessa is here,” I said as I led them into my home office. I handed Odessa’s mother, Anita, a gray, white-tipped feather about four inches long. “When I looked to see if you had arrived, I noticed this feather outside of my front door. I have never before seen a feather at my doorstep, and I knew Odessa had placed it there–a little sign to me that the reading would go well and that I should not worry. Birds are very special to Odessa.” Odessa’s mother and grandmother exchanged glances with guarded curiosity.
I also noticed that Anita was pregnant. I said, “I hear from Odessa that you’re having a little girl.” Anita smiled and replied, “Yes, you’re right.”
The family sat on the sofa and chair in my office while I sat on the floor facing them. To start, I briefly explained how I conducted my sessions. Prior to a reading, I sit quietly with the spirit and take notes on the images, words, and feelings the spirit gives me. I explained that in addition to offering this precedent information, the spirit also communicates with me during the reading itself. I pointed out, however, that the spirit’s information has no meaning to me. I was merely a messenger. I then handed the family two-and-half pages of typed notes that I had taken from Odessa and told them that they would have to determine the significance of Odessa’s words, a bit like putting puzzle pieces together.
We began with the notes’ first paragraph. The image was a car wreck on a slippery road, an accident that happened quickly, without time to correct. I said to them, “Odessa conveyed to me lots of sadness, even from herself, and her puzzlement at the loss of control. Odessa gave me the image of her own hand on her forehead.”
The family did not comment. I moved onto a paragraph about “lemon trees,” words Odessa said were from a conversation the family had that day in the car. “She has been in the car with you the entire time,” I said.
At this point, Anita laid her typed sheets on the coffee table and sat back on the sofa. “This is not my daughter,” she stated with a swallowed sob. “Odessa is not here today.”
I was stunned. In my heart, I knew these were Odessa’s words.