Picardie’s (Music Man, 1990) search for contact with her sister, who died from breast cancer in 1997, has both lightness and ache, the melancholy of being condemned to live on after the death of one so loved, yet a willingness to explore “what lies beyond the edge of the expected.”
“When someone dies, they do not always disappear out of your life. You have a relationship with them: a relationship that changes, that begins to accommodate their silence.” But maybe not so easily: For years, that silence in Picardie’s life tore her to pieces. So she started an investigation into mystical approaches that might let her communicate with her sister Ruth. Written in the form of a diary, in a polished voice capable of both intense poignancy and dry humor, she tells of chasing spirits with the College of Psychic Studies and the Society for Psychical Research, with sensitives consequential and mortifyingly inconsequential, with spirit channelers who “translate a vast textured multidimensional image into linear language,” ghosts living in computer spell-checking systems, electronic voice phenomena, even a training course in mediumship, where, in a trance class, “I close my eyes to try to find the white light but keep getting distracted by elderly John’s snoring.” It isn’t Picardie’s intent to poke holes in the paranormal’s art; she is genuinely hunting for her sister, and her psychic encounters are eye-opening, to say the least. But she certainly runs up against some strange characters, from thought-form removalists to Living Energy Universe proponents, all portrayed with deft strokes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, personal reflections of family members, living and dead, seem to yield the most powerful connections when she feels “sure that Ruth’s spirit is there . . . our hearts combine, briefly, fiercely, soundlessly,” and she can hear Ruth whisper, “You are me.”
A lament that at certain moments, for its intensity, can break your heart.