Telling Beautiful Lies


“There is a way of being wrong which is also sometimes necessarily right.” 
~ Edward Abbey

Ah, lovelies, I’m so tired just now.

We’ve been travelling endlessly back and forward between our farm and Brisbane the last two years as one of our elderly family members has become more and more incapacitated. Advancing dementia, mobility issues, deteriorating hearing and sight. We tried to keep her in her home as long as we could by sharing her care among family members, and then one day she went into hospital and the staff told us she couldn’t go home. We needed to find somewhere she could be looked after 24/7. When she went into care it was bittersweet – we cried that we had failed her but it was also such a relief to have that burden of her care lifted from us. It took weeks for her to settle in and then suddenly she was happy again and that new place became home.

Foolishly we thought life would go back to normal a little more. And then she fell.

Since then it has been an endless round of visits to her in the aged home or to be beside her bed on hospital stays where we try to visit daily to ensure that she is eating, and is comfortable and is not frightened or lonely.

Her mind is slipping. She asks us the same few questions over and over. The stories of her youth, once clear and well remembered, are merging into each other. She was a seamstress when she was young. Had loved dancing. Was courted by a young American soldier during the war, but married a local boy who played football with her brothers. We don’t correct her any more when she gets the details wrong. It just upsets her, and us. So we agree with what she says.

Even more than that we actively participate in the space she is in. In recent hospital visits she became distressed, aggressive, distrustful. All she wanted to do was go home. To the home. To her friends, she kept telling us. We could only calm her by telling her she would be released soon. Maybe tomorrow, we would say.

When she was delusional and told us she had been walking around (when she was actually lying in a hospital bed rigged up to countless machines and devices) we asked questions about where she went and what she did. Her mind created elaborate stories to explain what was happening and who these strangers were in her life. In the stories were tiny shreds of truth. We went along with it all if it seemed that it helped her to feel safe and at peace.

When the nurse came on his rounds, the same one who she said had been sent to torture her earlier in the day (she had thrown things at him, and at his fellow nurses, and threatened to call the police if they didn’t leave her alone), I introduced him as my friend – as someone new – and said he was the best and most caring nurse in the hospital. Suddenly she became polite and compliant and sweet with him. Every lie I spoke was worth it. For her and for us all. It broke my heart to see how trusting she was in what I told her. But it helped and she went to sleep calm again and comforted.

Last night she was back in hospital, less than a week after she was last discharged. For a new problem. She was in a lovely emotional space, calm and happy. The conversations we had were lucid and engaged. But she wanted to go home. Not to the nursing home, but her old home. It soothed her when we told her it was all ready for her, that it would be there when she was ready to be discharged. Even her doctor played along. Yes, she could go home soon. He was attentive and patient and repeated himself over and over with kindness and care.

Such beautiful lies. After the doctor left we talked about taking her shopping to buy a new dress or to help me choose one. We talked about Sunday roast lunches at her house and the whole family coming to visit. We talked about her independence when she gets out of the hospital. And none of it is true. And all of it made her smile and helped her settle down and go to sleep.

Such beautiful lies. And we will keep telling them until she goes to her final home, and all the loved ones who are waiting for her. It comforts her, and it comforts us, and that is all that matters.

Daniel’s Story – or The Power of Truth

Lonely Man by Salihguler

For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth. 
~ Bo Bennett

Sometimes life as a psychic can be very challenging.  But it can also be incredibly rewarding.  Daniel is one of those stories.

For about a month before Daniel came to see me, I had recurring visions and dream scenes.  At the time I didn’t know they were linked to Daniel.  All I knew was that they upset and confused me.

I would wake in the night with a splitting headache.  When I finally went back to sleep I would be walking down a corridor (but I knew it wasn’t me – I was just looking through someone else’s eyes), my vision blurred, my movements slow and stumbled, filled with a sense of anger, futility and despair. But it was muddled, my thinking, and impaired somehow.  I would push open a door, gain a sudden sense of clarity about something, and stagger purposefully toward a road.

Bang!

I would wake up again.  This time I would be calm. And all that came to me was the name Jason.

Was it really a dream?  Was it my dream? Was it the future? The past?  I had no idea, but it went from a once a week dream to a twice a week dream to a nightly thing, and it began to wreck my waking hours – with the lack of sleep, and the emotional stress from the intensity of the feelings I experienced each night and my inability to understand them.

Image from dcairns.wordpress.com

But the morning Daniel came to see me I had slept like a baby all night. What was even better was that my other two appointments for psychic readings had been rescheduled, so I had only one, Daniel’s, at nine in the morning. I felt like something good was about to happen. I began to think about how I would spend the rest of my day.  Maybe a massage, or some acupuncture.  Maybe a bookshop… My mind was pleasingly clear, and I felt happy and optimistic.

Then Daniel turned up.

Daniel was edgy. A young man in his early twenties, or perhaps a shade older. My clients are often nervous, but never edgy. Daniel stood at my door in a hoodie, although it was warm, and he kept looking around like he felt he was being watched.  He couldn’t look me in the eye. It wasn’t exactly a great start energetically.

I shook his hand in greeting, and it was as if a dark shadow started running from his arm and up mine.  It didn’t scare me, but it showed me what a level of mental anguish Daniel was in. I had this sudden understanding that he saw that I was somehow his last chance.

As I held his hand he began to shake.  His face was drawn and pale.

“Come in,” I told him, and I directed him straight into my lounge-room. That’s not what I normally do.  Usually I would take my client straight into the room where I do my readings.  Instead I sat Daniel down and asked him if he’d like a cup of tea. Yes, he did, so I made a pot while he waited. As I picked up the tray to take in to him a voice in my head said Ask him about Jason.

Jason. That name again.  My whole body began to tremble slightly, but not with fear. It was a crazy sense of adrenalin.  I just knew something big was about to happen.

I poured tea, sat down opposite him, and after we’d both sipped our tea and put our cups down I found myself saying, “Okay Daniel. There’s something we really need to talk about today.  We need to talk about Jason.”

His face crumpled in shock.  Daniel began to cry. “I didn’t come here to talk about that.  How did you know about that?  How did you know?” he kept muttering.

“Come on, Daniel.  You need to talk to me,” I encouraged, as a whole movie flashed before me and I understood with certainty what was going on.

Daniel looked at me, his eyes filled with anguish.  “Please help me. I killed somebody,” he said.

“I know,” I replied sympathetically.  “You killed Jason.”

“It was terrible,” he whispered.  And then he told me his story. The one he had kept locked inside him all that time.

It was Melbourne, the end of his senior year,and all of his friends were getting ready to fly to the Gold Coast for Schoolies Week. Daniel had made the decision not to go.  He didn’t have enough money and he’d just organised a job at a local hardware store.  He planned to work there until he started Uni the next year. He was sure he’d get into engineering and his studies came first. He’d already celebrated the last night of school with his mates on Thursday. They would fly out early on Saturday morning which gave them a full day to recover and pack their bags.

His parents went away for the weekend on Friday night, and Daniel went to the local pizza place with his mates and then cried off early and went home.  He started work at seven the next morning.

But just after midnight his mates rang him, drunk, from the local pub.  They couldn’t get a taxi.  Could he come and pick them up?

Daniel’s old car couldn’t fit five people, but his Dad’s could.  It was only a few blocks away. Even though he was banned from driving his Dad’s car he made the decision to borrow it.  They’d never know, and he’d be really careful.

He drove to the hotel, and circled through the packed carpark.  It was a tight squeeze, as cars had parked illegally, and the whole place was dimly lit.  He couldn’t find a park anywhere, so he decided to go back out onto the street to park.  Daniel had just edged past a line of cars when a person staggered out of the garden directly in front of him.  He braked but it was too late.  He hit the man, who fell onto the bonnet of the car before sliding off onto the road.

Daniel reversed.  The man lay in the gutter, illuminated by his headlights. There was so much partying noise coming from the pub but no-one was rushing over.  Daniel got out of the car and ran over to the man.  He turned him over and looked into his unfocused eyes.  He was still breathing, but his breath was ragged and he stank of alcohol.

Are you okay?  He kept asking the man over and over, but the man didn’t answer.

And that’s when something snapped inside him. Daniel sat the man up, leaning against a tree next to the path where everyone would walk to the car park. Somebody would be sure to see him.  Then he got back into the car and drove towards home.  On the way he pulled over and called an ambulance from a public phone.  Just in case.

When he got home he realised that his Dad’s car was damaged.  There was a large dent on the bonnet, and a chip in the paint. Then he heard police sirens, and watched several patrol cars race past on the road outside. The sirens ended in just a minute or two.  They must have stopped at the pub.  Had he killed that drunk man? Daniel panicked. He raced around the house, shoving things in his backpack.  He grabbed as much money as he could find, and then he took off.

The first year was hardest. He got a bus to North Queensland, and stayed at a backpackers, picking fruit and trying to blend in.  He saw on the news that he’d killed a man called Jason. He was never linked to the crime.  He didn’t ring his parents or make any contact.  He chose a new name.

But it was tough.  He couldn’t open a new bank account, he couldn’t register a car or get a drivers license, he didn’t have a tax file number to get a proper job. He lived life as a loner, constantly moving from place to place.

So now here he was, sitting on my lounge, emotionally destroyed at twenty six.

“We need to call the police,” I said.

“Okay.”  Daniel nodded his head like a little boy. I made a call to a detective I’ve worked with before.  Within an hour two uniformed police arrived at my house.  After a prolonged interview in my lounge-room they took Daniel away.

Charges were never laid.  Jason was a petty crook and addict, and his death was caused by a potent cocktail of drugs and alcohol. Police believe he may have deliberately walked out in front of Daniel. Being hit by a car was not the cause of death.

Daniel was reunited with his family, and has enrolled to study psychology at University next year. He called me to thank me not long ago.  He has a girlfriend now, and he can live life out in the open again.  He’s a changed man.

And Jason? I’ve never had a bad dream about him since. But the night after Daniel came to see me I couldn’t sleep at all. Just on dawn, as I sat in my darkened lounge, I heard Jason’s voice one last time. Thank You.

* NB – This story is told with permission. Names and locations have been changed to preserve the privacy of those involved.