The following has been excerpted from Expect the Unexpected, a memoir and spiritual guidebook that Bill Philipps has written about his experiences as a psychic medium.
When she appeared to me in the bedroom on August 16, she barely resembled the woman I had watched die two days earlier. In fact, she hardly looked like the mom I had known for nearly fifteen years—the old, ragged, tired woman who rolled the dice on the streets with her life each day. Within that brilliant light that night, she was much younger, healthier and happier. Her complexion was immaculate. In a word, she was angelic. Ironically, I had never seen her look so alive.
After I had acknowledged that I knew who she was, she smiled and finally spoke to me. Her voice was soothing but had a persuasive tone. She said just two sentences, the first of which calmed my nerves considerably.
“Billy,” she said, “I want you to know that I’m OK.”
I smiled. If we could ask one question of our deceased loves ones, wouldn’t it be: “Are you OK?” That’s what we care about the most—for their sake now and for ours after this life. Even though Mom had succumbed to numerous temptations and had not lived a model life here on Earth, she was in a better place. And her reassurance gave me profound comfort and a glimpse into the unknown that few people have ever experienced after losing someone close to them.
But she also gave me one more statement to ponder, one that was more ambiguous. “Also know that I will take care of you,” she said.
Take care of me? I thought to myself. Like my guardian angel? I didn’t know what that meant. Was it just a general statement about my life? Or was she referring to a specific situation? But before I could ask, she was gone. I cannot describe her transition from being there to not being there, because it was that quick. If I blinked, she vanished in that nanosecond. I would guess the entire encounter, from when I first saw her until she left, lasted 30 seconds, if that.
After she disappeared, the room returned to darkness and I was left alone to contemplate what had just happened. I stayed awake, trying to make sense of it, even talking to her with the hope that she might return, but she never did. I was happy that she had come to me and that she was obviously at peace, but sad that she was no longer physically present. Keep in mind that I was just 14 years old and two days removed from her death after not seeing her for six years. I had barely started mourning her loss, and now she appears in some mystical form? I was confused. One thing I did know for sure was that I was not going to tell anybody what I had witnessed. Who would believe it? Everybody would think I had been hallucinating or dreaming.
About an hour later I fell asleep again. When I woke up with the morning sunlight streaming through the open window, I got out of bed and cautiously approached the corner in which Mom had appeared. I slowly ran my fingers along the walls and the floor. I gazed at the ceiling. I gracefully waved my hand through the air space she had occupied. I don’t know exactly what I was searching for. Maybe she left something behind—tangible or intangible, an object or an energy—that I could share with somebody to prove she had been there.
That moment took me back to when I was maybe five or six years old. I would go to bed at night and sometimes see eyes or faces around me. It scared me so much that I begged Mom for a night light in my room. She obliged, but told me that I watched too many scary movies, that it was all my imagination. Was it? Because I knew for sure that what I saw this time was not. Mom had been there, in that corner, just hours earlier. I just couldn’t find any proof of it.
I slept in that same room each night that week until the funeral was over, hoping she would return, but she never did. I continuously replayed that evening in my head. She said she was OK. That was good. But I was still baffled about the comment that she would take care of me. What did it mean?
One of the many aspects of the spirit world that I have learned about since then is that the messages they relay to us are not necessarily answers to past issues, short-term problems, or something that might happen in the very near future. Often we have to hang on to those messages in our minds and hearts for quite a while and wait patiently for their meanings to materialize. Here in our world, everything we do each day is based on time—when we sleep, when we eat, when we work, when we play. We have calendars and appointments. We check the clock dozens of times daily. But it’s my belief that in the spirit realm, time does not exist. Something I’m told now by a spirit could refer to something next month, next year, or years down the road. As I would eventually learn, Mom’s message about her taking care of me just needed some earthly time to develop—and it involved, of all people, my dad.
Dad’s road to recovery
The day she died, I called my dad to tell him. His reaction was not at all what I expected. Considering how much he and Mom despised each other for so long, I thought he would be mildly happy or, at the very least, indifferent towards her death. But instead, he cried. In fact, I would say that in subsequent days and weeks he even slumped into a bout of depression. There were probably two reasons for that: one was that he felt some remorse for keeping me from seeing my mom for so long; the other was that he knew her death was tied to her addiction, something the two of them shared for years. Dad also knew deep in his heart that while he may have saved me from the poisonous environment I was in when I lived in New York, what he provided for me in Las Vegas and California was not much better. I think that is why, within a few weeks after I returned home from the funeral, Dad began his journey toward quitting his drug habit. It wasn’t something we ever talked about, or something he asked for help with. And it took him a while, probably a year, to fully overcome it. But he made the effort, stuck with it, and to this day is clean.
I ultimately realized that this must have been what Mom meant when she said she would take care of me. Her death had such an impact on my dad that he straightened out his life, which cleared the way for me to live, for the first time, without the stress and anxiety that the two of them had always inflicted upon me with their destructive habits and negligence. Mom had struggled mightily to take care of me when she was alive, but found a way to turn that around in death.
A special gift
Jump ahead a few weeks, to a Saturday afternoon at the end of that summer. I was back in Southern California and coping pretty well since losing Mom. Some friends and I were walking along a strip mall when we passed a psychic shop. Places like that were all over the region, though I had never paid any attention to them. I actually thought they were kind of creepy. But as we were strolling past this one, the psychic came out and grabbed my arm to stop me.
“Wow!” she said in an astonished tone. “You have an amazing gift.”
I looked at her like she was out of her mind. “I what?” I replied.
“You have an amazing gift,” she repeated, looking all serious and moving her hands in the space around me as if she felt some sort of supernatural energy. “You should be doing what I’m doing.”
“Okaaay,” I said. I looked over at my friends who, by their grins, were enjoying that she picked me to solicit rather than them. Oddly enough, though, she did not immediately try to coax me into her shop and ask me for any money, which was what I thought “those people” were all about. She simply seemed compelled to share her insights.
“But the thing is,” she continued, “it’s going to take you about three years to understand what I’m saying.”
Haha! All right, I’d heard enough. With that outrageous comment I politely thanked her, walked away with my friends, then burst into laughter with them when we were around the corner and out of her sight. I had an amazing gift, but I wouldn’t understand it for three years? How did she live with herself churning out such nonsense?
I’ll admit that her words did make me reflect on one thing: the night my mom visited me after she died. That was certainly an extraordinary spiritual experience, one that I still had not been able to explain. But as far as I was concerned, I had had nothing to do with it. That was all my mom. I didn’t have some “amazing gift” that contributed to that happening.
Or did I? Almost exactly three years later, in October 2002, soon after my 18th birthday and because of some inexplicable feelings I’d been having that something supernatural was going on around me, I reluctantly decided to put myself to the test.
I couldn’t believe it myself, but the strip-mall psychic was absolutely right. I had an amazing gift.