Warning: If you don’t believe in the possibility of mediums, you may as well stop reading now; I’m not interested in arguing the point, and I know that talking about mediums—much like talking about 24 with my father—isn’t fun for the non-believers who can’t suspend their disbelief for the sake or entertainment, conversation, or both.
Still reading? Good, because I want to tell you about Allison DuBois’s “Family Connections” tour, which stopped in L.A. for the first time Tuesday night.
Before taking my seat in the otherwise-empty row reserved for press at the cream-carpeted Olympic Collection Banquet and Conference Center in West L.A., I knew DuBois only as the woman who inspired Patricia Arquette’s character on Medium. I looked around. A middle-aged woman with a large, crystal hair clip sat front and center. A man in a soft lemon sweater had one arm around his daughter a few rows down. There were about a hundred people—a totally average group.
And then there was DuBois, who took the stage after a short, kind introduction from her cousin Mark in a white tuxedo jacket and slacks, her cranberry red hair brushed back from her face. “It’s okay if you’re loved one doesn’t come through,” she told the crowd. “I want to teach you how to make the people you lost a part of your life so you don’t need me. I’m just a glorified secretary.” Oh, I thought, It’s self help.
I was right—and I was wrong. Over the next two hours, DuBois proceeded to take life questions and do readings for a handful of the audience. After calling each person to the stage, DuBois asked for their first name and the relationship they shared with the person they hoped to reach. Then, while scribbling furiously on a legal notepad (she went through a least a box of pencils) she announced clear, strikingly specific messages from the deceased: Melody’s boyfriend, who was murdered, let her know that he likes the tattoos his friends and family got in his memory since he died. Pam’s daughter Ryan let her know that her body, which has not yet been found by the detectives working to solve her murder, is outdoors in a familiar place, and will eventually be discovered. Loraine’s husband, a sailor who was electrocuted at sea, told her that he “didn’t know what hit him” and that he wants her to stop wishing she were with him in the afterlife. Melissa’s mom, who died of cancer, cracked “cell phones are fine, but send a letter from time to time.” Each woman cried, and nodded, mumbled that they understood. It was a gut-wrenching scene, but humbling to witness, and undeniably life-changing for them.
As for me, I went to the event with an open mind excited by the idea of hearing from my great aunt Leah, who I miss now as terribly as I loved her when she was alive and singing at the dinner table. She didn’t come through, and that’s okay—I learned a valuable lesson just being in the room: the bridge between life and death, however achieved, is feeling connected to those we love. Oh, and that “Jewish women, or talkative women, come through often. Their still talking to their kids.” Who doesn’t believe that?