Everything I know about mediums I learned from reality TV. Joe and I binge watched Theresa Caputo on TLC and I’d catch him shedding real tears. If I get struck by lightning today it’s because I just made that public knowledge.

I’ve talked about Joe’s obsession with ghosts and spirits. He just believed in the after life, whether that meant the heaven we hear about on Sunday or spirits traveling through electrical outlets, he believed.

So, I decided to go see a medium. I did it mainly for Joe’s mom who also loves Theresa Caputo and all reality TV to be honest. If you have a Real Housewives of something question, my mother in law knows that answer. (If I get struck by lightning today it’s because, she’s going to kill me for telling her secrets but I love it about her.)

The medium was this little old man in this tiny spiritual town tucked on a slightly spooky street in Central Florida.

I grew up Catholic and I know some people struggle with the idea of psychics and mediums on some sin level and to be honest I’m not totally sure how I feel about them either, but I can guarantee it wasn’t my first sin and won’t be my last and J.C. and I are still best buds.

So I sat across from this complete stranger as he told me what the spirit was telling me, presumably my beloved Joe was there and standing over me with a light to protect me. He brought up a lot of generic things and a few specifics that left me in a mix of shock, comfort and deep in thought.

What I liked about the experience is it stretched my mind to think about things I haven’t in a long, long time. My mind went searching for memories as he’d ask me about my cat or about my taxes. It felt nice to remember funny stories and feel like moments buried in my mind were brought out into the daylight.

I also loved picturing heaven, I’m almost obsessed with it. I imagine Joe at this huge university where he gets to paint and learn and has no more pain, emptiness or the longing we have on Earth.

The whole experience, it felt good, whether the guy was for real or not.

When the person you feel so deeply connected to is no longer next to you in the physical sense, you find yourself searching for any sign, any clue to show you they’re still around in some way.

Whether it’s a cardinal flying in front of your car, a spiritual reading, a light flashing in a once broken appliance or your toddler stopping you in your tracks with the little words right out of their mouth.

Our now 2 1/2 year old little girl. She says goodnight to her dad’s picture that hangs in her room every night but the truth is every memory she has of him will be from me. I talk about him constantly and tell her funny stories in hopes that I can fill that giant gap he left in her life the day he died.

She sat finishing her oatmeal and swooshing the blueberries into the bottom of the bowl when I told her that we needed to get ready because today we were going to the zoo!

Without missing a beat she said, “And we can ride on the elephants?”

The comment took me by surprise. I had no idea where she’d have thought to ask that question. No book or tv show came to mind and I smiled at her and said, “Maybe, we’ll have to see!” 

She’s at the perfect age for the zoo as she’s memorized all her animals and the sounds they make. She loves to joke that monkeys eat carrots, even though she knows it’s bananas just to get a rise out of me. (Have I mentioned how much she’s like her father?)

I snapped a picture of her in front of the orangoutangs and sent it to Joe’s mom.

She responded with, “How fun! Find out if they still let you ride the elephants! That’s what we did at the Indianapolis zoo with Joe when he was a kid.” 

I felt a chill come over my whole body. Head to toe, covered in tiny goosebumps as I stared at my little girl skipping beside me.

He’s here. 

I looked over my friend who’d been with us all day and when her shocked look mirrored mine I felt a little less crazy.

I don’t know all of the answers or where we go or what happens after we leave here but I’ve seen things, powerful things and that day I felt calm, I felt safe and I felt a reassurance that I’m never really without him.

Yes, we did get to see the elephants. No, they no longer let you ride them Joe but i bet you get to in heaven.

Elephants at the zoo