Can you please slow down?â€ she asks to nobody in particular, clasping her hands in her lap. She sits on the edge of her seat and pivots to face me directly, even though the chair points straight forward. Her knees and ankles are both together, but relaxed. It reminds me of something out of my momâ€™s â€œMs. Mannersâ€ book on how to sit and act like a lady. She asks, â€œDid he pass within the last two years?â€ â€œRecently, yes,â€ I say, looking away. I have seen a psychic before, but never a medium and never after my best friend Timâ€™s suicide. My cheeks feel warm as I swing between thoughts that this is a sham and having to remind myself not to get my hopes up.
Finally, she says quietly â€œThe quieter one is behind you. He has darker hair.â€ I hold my breath and feel the lump rising in the back of my throat as I choke back tears. Thatâ€™s too broad, I reassure myself as I take a deep breath and keep my eyes down. Lucky guess.
The next sentence out of her mouth knocks the wind out of me and makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. She steadies the gaze of her clear blue eyes as she says â€œIâ€™m getting a strong connection to the name David.â€
My first meeting with psychic medium Katie Cashman was through an event called â€œAsk a Mediumâ€ at Northern Colorado Writers, a small association of writers from the Fort Collins, Colo. area.
â€œThis is my first public speaking event, which is a big deal for me,â€ said Katie with a nervous laugh. She said she wanted to create the â€œAsk a Mediumâ€ event because â€œwhenever someone asks me what I do, there are a million questions.â€ She gave each person a mini reading and treated every individual as though each was the only person in the room with her.
What surprised me most was her accuracy. The reading for me was, Iâ€™ll admit, uncomfortable and frightening. True to my cynical nature, I asked a different question than the one written on my
notecard, changing it last minute to ensure I wasnâ€™t giving her time to prepare an answer. I asked, â€œIs there anyone on the other side who has anything to say to me?â€
Right away she described the gender, age, clothing, and mannerisms of the â€œdominating personâ€ who wanted to speak with me. â€œWas there a car involved?â€ she asked. One of my close friends, Cory, died suddenly the year before in circumstances surrounding a car accident. Her description was right on; right down to the way he called me dude and said I was the sister he never had.
Since she was so accurate in describing Cory, I went out on a limb and asked her if there was anyone else, my stomach flip-flopping as I skeptically hoped with all my heart to hear from Tim. I was not expecting her to be as accurate as she was. Thatâ€™s when she told me he was behind me and gave me the name David. David is Timâ€™s father and the one I have connected with the most since Timâ€™s death. Part of me thought that David is such a common and generic name that she could have just gotten lucky. Part of me believed to the bottom of my heart that she knew exactly what she had said and knew how deeply it affected me. I wanted more.
For her first public speaking, she was professional, at ease, and very good at giving each member of the audience the right amount of attention. Each person got an equal amount of time and information, and she was very compassionate and appropriate when discussing sensitive issues.
â€œKatie gives so much of herself into her readings. She clearly connects with loved ones and clearly receives information.â€ Sarina Baptista, a psychic medium trainer in Loveland, Colo., said. â€œI have never met a more genuine person than Katie. She is who she is, and thatâ€™s who she is.â€
She met with me casually again despite the fact that she had family in town for the holidays because I expressed interest in her field, and because I wanted to write this story. Though my previous experience with psychics had made me distrustful, I must admit I came away from my first experiences with Katie doubting my own beliefs. She was just so genuine and sure of herself. It was enough to spark my curiosity.
Until she was a teenager, Katie never really understood her gift. She continued to deny her intuition because she lacked confirmation that it was real. â€œI left my intuition,â€ she said. â€œLife got really hard for me then. In my work now, the work I am doing teaching is â€˜Psychic Recovery.â€™ I feel like I became a ghost because I stopped
using my intuition, and bad things were going to happen and I was just sort of exposed to it because I couldnâ€™t lift my spirit. After years I just kind of had enough, and I wanted to heal my past so I started with myself.â€
When she moved to Fort Collins, Colo. four years ago, discovering that her daughter is naturally psychic as well made Katie want to hone her own skills so that she could answer questions her daughter would have as she grew. She didnâ€™t want her daughter to grow up with the same tortures that she did.
â€œEveryone has intuition,â€ Katie said, but the ability comes more naturally to some than others. Since beginning to develop her skills, Katie has made an office for herself at her home in Fort Collins, and recently graduated to having an office located above CafÃ© Vino on College Avenue. When I met with her to have a reading in her home office, I was surprised again. I donâ€™t know what I was expecting, but it wasnâ€™t what I found.
The walls of her home office are electric green, and the space is well lit and comfortable. Relaxing music plays in the background. She introduced me to Braeden, her 3-year-old son who is playfully shy. He smiled and hid behind the corner of the wall, playing peek-a-boo with me while I sat down as the reading began.
Later, halfway through the reading, at her sonâ€™s request, she excused herself and got him an apple. I heard from the other room, â€œWhatcha playinâ€™?â€ â€œPlaying cars,â€ her son, Braeden, said. And then, â€œOh no, what did you do here? Youâ€™re a big boy now; you have to do this in the potty. Hereâ€™s your apple. Chew it up real good, ok?â€ Katie rolled her eyes, smiling as she carried a pair of soiled toddlerâ€™s pants to the stairs. Again, I am stunned by how genuine and normal she is, despite her unusual abilities.
The validations from the readings Katie performs are surprising and immediate. I watched clients come through and have their entire family history laid out before me. Stephani Schupbach, a geographic information system specialist from Fort Collins, had a grandmother on the other side who was especially helpful to Katie with details. Katie could describe the grandmotherâ€™s looks and mannerisms perfectly. â€œDid she buy, or waitâ€¦make, you a dress? Did she make you a dress?â€ Katie asked. â€œYes she did,â€ Schupbach said, raising her eyebrows and nodding. â€œDoes your son wear cowboy boots?â€ Katie asked Schupbach. â€œItâ€™s a girl, but yes, she does. Sheâ€™s a tomboy,â€
Long-time friend, Tana Anderson, who she has done a reading for before, said Katie told her who she would be marrying at least a year before she ever met him. â€œKatie was the one who told me what he looked like, and that I would meet him at a workshop. Before I knew it was him, he introduced himself to me at a workshop.â€ Eventually he started pursuing her romantically, and he told her he â€œfelt like he neededâ€ to be with her. â€œAnd then, of course, I fell in love with him,â€ Anderson said.
â€œKatie is one of the best mediums I know. She just sees so clearly. She has this natural ability. Usually people need a lot of training to get where she is, she just does it,â€ Baptista said.
In the last few months, she has gone from having her very first public speaking event to being on a radio show, and having consistent public speaking events. She is more than willing to recommend literature that could help illuminate her work.
â€œSheâ€™s not even 40 and sheâ€™s accomplished so much! She has a feeling for life, because sheâ€™s experienced a lot,â€ Baptista said.
Although the pace and nature of her work has changed, the goal of her work remains the same: to educate the public, and spread knowledge about her field in order to gain respect and awareness for those in her line of work. Not everybody in her field behaves honorably, Katie acknowledged, but isnâ€™t that true of every field?
â€œSheâ€™s blowing me away with how fast she is progressing,â€ Anderson said.
Now, Katie says that her biggest supporters are her dad and her stepmother, the latter of whom she reformed her relationship with eight years ago. Her stepmom, Mary Mills, said that she is proud of her, because â€œShe has really had to go out and find herselfâ€ to get where she is now, and that she is â€œexcited for herâ€ and wants to see where she will go with her future work.
Even those who are skeptical canâ€™t help but have a soft spot for Katie. â€œ[Katie] has got a wonderful way of explaining things and putting you at ease,â€ Anderson said. She will be successful in her endeavors to spread awareness and respect for her profession because even the most cynical of people find themselves opening up to her.
â€œYou want to believe it and everything, but you kind of have some hesitation. But with Katieâ€¦â€ Mills said, â€œI could always tell when she was pulling the wool over my eyes when she was a teenager. I donâ€™t feel that way now.â€
I agree. Even though my cynicism keeps bringing back my reservations about this line of work, I canâ€™t help but feel reassured by speaking with Katie about my friends on the other side. Even if occasionally I canâ€™t shake the doubt that this is real, the chance that my friends on the other side mess with me by whistling or pulling my hair (as Katie says they do) is enough to help me recover from losing them. For me, getting to know Katie has been a healing journey toward acceptance that my loved ones are gone, but a part of them lives.
Whether or not it is in an alternate dimension or in my fond memories, is still on trial. Until I reach a verdict, her kindness and genuineness alone are worth it. With Katie, something is different. You donâ€™t have to be clairsentient to feel that.
Editorâ€™s note: Kate Merkin is a guest writer for College Avenue Magazine. For questions or concerns please email email@example.com.