It's my mom's birthday. She has communicated to me, through a session with a medium, that she just wants me to celebrate it as if she were alive. I buy her a chocolate cake, and candles. And on a whim: a birthday card. The message on the inside reads, "Wishing you a little bit of paradise on your special day." It makes me smile, because I know she is in paradise on her special day. Not in a faraway, separate, heavenly realm, but in a timeless state of existence as pure light energy. I sit down at my desk, open the card, and write to her. What comes out is honest, wandering, heartfelt, and imperfect. I write so much that the words spill against the edges of the card and overflow onto supplementary journal pages. At the bottom of the last page, I write: "Okay I'm going to end the letter now & freewrite a response from you." I take deep breaths, grounding myself. I move my pen to the next page. My hand starts heating up, sweating, buzzing with some external source of energy, animated and jittery and ready to move. I open my senses, hearing and seeing words and letting them flow through me, as I dash my hand across the paper: "Hi Sarah hi hunny bunny I love you so much thank you for the chocolate cake I'm so glad you got it I'm sending you love my sweet girl I'm so proud of you—I just want to you to know that, okay? I'm here for you and I love you. I'm always here. I love you so much." And in my mind's eye: she's cooing, singing, rocking me. At this point, I'm sobbing, tears streaming down my face. I keep writing, even as my nose runs with snot and grateful, disbelieving tears pour down my cheeks, as my mom's spirit fills me with an overwhelming wave of love that's so deep and real that it almost arcs back around into sadness. She is helping me write—filling my hand with energy—and for the very first time since she died, after a year of doubting myself, wishing I could hear her talk back to me without the help of a medium, wishing I could become a medium but thinking that I just wasn't cut out for it—here I am, feeling her spirit fill the room, writing and crying as she transmits these loving messages to me. I've gone through countless photo albums and VHS tapes since she died. I've seen how vibrant, beautiful, glowing, exuberant, and full of life she used to be. And I've traced how, over time, through the course of her relationship with my dad and her battles with cancer, she grew distant, guarded, disconnected, scowling, and sad. I see that in photos from the 80s and early 90s, she's stylish, glowing, and rocking a short, chic bob. In my memories of her, though, I always think of her with hair down past her shoulders. After she was diagnosed with cancer for the first time and got surgery on her neck, leaving her with a caved-in hollow and a thick, gnarled scar, she never cut her hair short again, never pulled her hair up into a ponytail. If there was ever a breeze outside, she would self-consciously press her hair against the side of her neck so that the scar remained hidden. As my hand continues across the page, transmitting her response to me while I sit at my desk, face wet with tears, she shows me an image of herself now. She's looking stylish in high-waisted 80s or early 90s jeans. I say, "You look great, Mom! Your hair's shorter right??" She says with a smile, "Yeah I can wear my hair short. No scar now."