This is a story that is told multiple times a week. Details are omitted to scrunch it into the allotted time. It is the story I tell before each reading; the story of how I got started doing readings for other people. I want to share it here in its entirety because I think just once it needs to be written down with all the details in place.
It was a regular day like any other. I was in grad school and had made a great friend. The kind that you meet and you already feel like you have known each other a hundred years. We had most of our classes together. We talked about lots of things; I had my first child in grad school and she had been teaching longer than I; married longer than I. She always had the best advice; but one day our conversation turned to one of her students. A student that had leukemia. An eight-year-old little boy whom she tutored. I had no idea when we started talking about Matthew the impact he would have on my life.
As my friend shared her worries and experience with Matthew and his family, I shared more about my gift with her. Opening something inside of myself I had held so close. Trying to share what little wisdom I had to bring comfort to the unthinkable situation that was facing this family, facing Matthew.
Matthew gained his angel wings in July of 2007.
A few months later my friend told me that I should share my gift with this family. That they needed my help.
Crazy town; I told her. Crazy people do things like that. I didn’t think I could help and I was sure that if I did everyone would think I was crazy. No one can talk to spirits for real. The things that happened to me were just random and I wasn’t about to do them out loud in front of the world. I played small and it suited me just fine. I had a sweet little life at this point. Two kids and a new job; I was moving forward into my sweet, quiet life comfortably.
So, I told her no. I thought that would be the end of it.
Sometimes you don’t hear when God is laughing at you. Chuckling at the notion that you think you have some control over what you are meant to do.
God and Matthew had different plans for me. Matthew was helping Him put those plans into motion.
Matthew began to show up everywhere. He was in my car; my kitchen, woke me up at night because I kept having the same dream. I would reach out for a tombstone that wasn’t there and carved into the rock were symbols I didn’t recognize. Each night I would trace them with my finger drawing symbols into a phantom tombstone.
Finally, I asked Matthew what he wanted. He had a family that loved him, why in the world was he spending all this time around me?
He asked me to talk to his mom. He asked me to help his family. Said he had something for his sister and turned into a butterfly and fluttered away.
God knew if He sent me a child I would listen. God knew if He sent me a small boy that I would say yes. That with shaky legs, sweaty hands and my stomach in knots I would drive 40 miles into unknown territory and try to help this boy reunite with his family.
Arriving made everything worse. Encountering the eyes of this mother and father who had lost half their hearts and a whole child to Heaven was almost unbearable. What if this didn’t work? What if I was crazy? What if I just heard and saw things that didn’t really exist? I started praying in my head like a crazy woman. Dear God, please let me help this family. God please let this bring them some comfort. God please let this be real. God please don’t let this family down.
It took a good twenty minutes to get comfortable. Twenty minutes of small talk and looking at a few pictures. Matthew showed up right away, but I had never seen energy move so fast. I couldn’t slow him down enough to hear what he was saying. And then something shifted.
I started to hear him clear as day. I started to see him in his blue striped shirt and the wide grin expand across his face. He told his family about things he did in the house to let them know he was around. He described the item that he was buried with since I would have no idea what it was or how to pronounce what it was called. Matthew relayed to me the item he wanted his sister to have. He shared things he hoped for his family and wanted for the future.
We drove to his grave because of my dream. I had chills over my whole body as I stepped into the reality of that dream. Stepped into a solid, tangible reality I had only seen in dreams. I explained to them about the symbols Matthew wanted on his tombstone. His dad drew multiple samples on a napkin; skeptical trying to prove this was really happening; only one set of symbols represented what I had verbalized to them. Without hesitation, I pointed to the second set of symbols. The ones I had traced into stone night after night in my dream. Those were the ones. The ones Matthew wanted on his stone.
Then a little dog showed up and of course it had been theirs. Of course, that dog was with their son playing chase and being a constant companion.
That day changed my life. That day put me on a course with God’s plan for me. It unfurled my path; a path I had refused to step onto for 15 years.
When I was fifteen a line of spirits formed around me. A line. They would reach out one by one; tell me I was going to help them and I would shake it off. It couldn’t be. How could I tell people out loud this is me? I talk to dead people, seriously? I couldn’t handle the criticism. I wasn’t ready.
I wasn’t ready that day either and it would be about five years after this first reading for strangers that I would help other people out loud. Matthew never gave up. He would visit from time to time and nudge me down this path. Encourage me to keep the channels open; to pay attention to spirit.
When I first started giving readings he would be there with me. Cheering me on. Letting me know I was right where I was supposed to be. Eventually he handed those reigns off to my loved ones, but from time to time he still peeks in; still says hello with that wide grin across his face and his head tilted slightly to the right. Always dressed in the latest trends and his jet-black hair just a bit spiky in front. It always makes me smile.
Matthew helped me get to where I am today. Matthew taught me how to listen. He helped me understand how this gift would work. Reaffirmed that as much as I am here to help the living that I work for spirit. That I am here to translate the messages of spirit to their families. When I give a reading I always let spirit lead. Spirit starts with their agenda, their messages; and those messages may not always be what their loved one may want to hear, but without fail they are always what their loved one needs to hear. Without fail loved ones end up finding a way to make sense out of the words and pictures that spirit gives to me. Spirit finds a way to make me feel both physically and emotionally what they want me to translate. God always leading the way; allowing this miracle.
I hope that what I do; that each reading pays Matthew back somehow. That he knows that this is how I say thank you. That I am forever grateful for his determination and patience. That it is not lost on me that a boy, not yet nine, changed my life in such a profound and wonderful way. Thank you, Matthew and thank you sweet family who welcomed me into their lives unsure of what that day would hold. Thank you all for changing my life and being the first step on my journey. Thank you for sharing your son with me and with the world.