Last night, as I sat inside a packed 1STBANK Center with a bunch of ladies who looked like my mom, I waited for Theresa Caputo to appear and wondered what exactly I was going to see. How does someone like Caputo, known to the world as the Long Island Medium, channel what she calls "spirit" in an arena full of people who are all crossing their fingers and hoping she would pick (or be picked by) one of our dead relatives?
I've been to see a medium before -- Rebecca Rosen is a local renowned psychic and she connected me to my past relatives -- but that reading was personal. It was just Rosen and I in a room for an hour. When I played that recorded session with Rosen back for my boyfriend, he didn't seem to think she was as "connected" to my passed loved ones as I thought she was, but I didn't care. It felt real to me and helped me move through a tough loss. But as I watched Caputo work a crowd of 6,000 people last night I realized something: it's not so much about whether or not what these people do is "real" or not. It's about helping grieving people heal.
Throughout the night, Caputo combed the crowd as she shouted things like "who over here has a dead brother?," pointing her manicured nails across a sea of heads. She would follow up with "do you understand me?," after revealing more details that could narrow down who's dead brother she was channeling, exactly. She cracked many jokes about the authenticity of her gift -- after sharing a deeply personal note (like the couple whose son passed away and Caputo somehow knew they had named a star after him) she gave us a wink, as if to signal that this stuff was legit.
Though much of what she would yell out seemed vague, there were moments when I found myself crying. This was not a room full of skeptics waiting to prove her wrong, but rather a gathering of hurting people. There was the woman with a daughter that she believed didn't commit suicide, even though that was what police had determined. Caputo was able to "channel" the young girl who had passed over, and assured the mother that yes, she was right. Even if the police did no further investigation, Caputo wanted the mother to know that the daughter was at peace and she had not killed herself. This was startling to hear, but even more startling to watch this mother cry with relief -- it was clear she had been searching for this information since she lost her child.
I am a person who uses a certain amount of astrology, magic and ritual to aid and guide my daily life choices, so Caputo's spirit work doesn't seem that far-fetched to me. But I also know that there is a certain power that lies in conversation and connection -- many of us just want our feelings to be validated, especially in times of trauma and grief.
There were several families that Caputo called on that had lost the relative that, when they were alive, were clearly the glue that kept everyone together. I watched as mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers finally allowed themselves to release the emotional hold of a loss of their loved one, as Caputo revealed the spirit's message to his or her family to move on. She was very good at explaining that -- even with murder victims and others who had died traumatically -- if a spirit came through her, that meant they were at peace. It seemed like that was all some people needed to hear to move on.
Whether or not you believe in psychic mediums or humans that can channel spirits, a person like Caputo does real work helping others deal with profound grief and loss and that in itself is a gift. The biggest lesson I learned in seeing this television psychic walk around a concrete amphitheater for two hours talking about dead people is this: sometimes we just need someone outside of ourselves to tell us everything is going to be okay. And maybe that person is Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium.
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