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She does not see dead people, so get that Haley Joel Osment image from The Sixth Sense out of your head. When little Becky Rosen from Omaha goes to work, transforming herself into Rebecca Rosen, nationally renowned psychic medium, she says she's more likely to see "balls of energy, or waves, like heat rising from the sidewalk in the summer." Ooooh.
Like Patricia Arquette's character on the CBS series Medium, Rosen is a wife and working mother with young children and a supportive but pragmatic husband. An Entertainment Tonight segment played up her powerful resemblance to Jennifer Love Hewitt in Ghost Whisperer. "The difference between her and me, just for the record, is that in the show she works with earthbound spirits — we call them ghosts," Rosen explains. "I work with spirits that are happily on the other side. They're in 'heaven' quote-unquote, and it's the living, the people on earth, who are not at peace."
You'll be seeing a lot of Rebecca Rosen over the next few weeks (she was featured on Nightline earlier this month) as she promotes her first book, Spirited: Connect to the Guides All Around You (HarperCollins, $24.99), so you may want to know her better. When your client list includes the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Rachael Ray, your first published work will tend to draw attention. She already knows her nearly 3,000 clients in and around metro Detroit intimately, and many of their deceased relatives as well.
Because it was during three years living here with her then-fiance, Brian, to help her father Shelly run his West Bloomfield mortgage business that she developed and embraced her psychic gifts and launched her professional career. "I feel like this is a second home to me," says Rosen, 33. "This is where I said, 'I'll do it for friends of friends and see if I can really do this.' And I was blowing people away and blowing myself away thinking, 'How can this be?'
"And I really doubted. Gosh, I hate telling you, but the ones who came to the coffee shop in the beginning, I really didn't know if I believed it as I was sitting there doing it. It took me getting enough evidence for us both to walk away feeling good about it. I always say to people who are skeptical, 'I understand, because I was there. I was extremely skeptical in the beginning.' That is why to this day I'm adamant on validating in their mind, and my mind, that we're really making a genuine connection. I need to make sure I'm giving correct information, and from spirits that are well intentioned."
So Rosen told HarperCollins that rather than launch her first book tour in Times Square, Rodeo Drive or even her current home in Denver, she wanted to commence in downtrodden Detroit. "I wanted to be in your energy," she says. Psychic? The book barons must have thought she was psycho.
But one recent Monday night, nearly 1,000 Detroiters, the committed and the curious, paying up to $90 each for the opportunity, jammed Rock Financial Showplace in Novi to experience what patron Suzanne Bianchette of Milford hoped would be "something wonderful. I just don't know what. I have very high hopes and expectations."
Rosen didn't disappoint. A wisp of a woman in a diaphanous black dress and knee-high matching boots, she began her day on FM radio station 95.5 with "Mojo in the Morning," who once swore about psychics but now swears by Rosen after an on-air reading reportedly brought him to tears. On the broadcast she helped a woman named Jill communicate with her son, Jordan, who died in an auto accident. Jordan was insistent about acknowledging his father, according to Rosen, but he wasn't in the studio. So she encouraged Jill to persuade Jordan's dad, Matt, to attend the evening event, and he did.
Rosen proceeded to ask Matt detailed questions, via Jordan, that she presumably could not possibly know.
"Did you just get a speeding ticket?"
"Did your toilet stop up today?"
"Whose birthday did he die on or around?"
"He's apologizing about that. This is all important stuff to validate that he's watching everything. He wants you to know how much he loves you and that you said everything you needed to say in this lifetime."
As audience readings continue, each revelation elicits gasps and spontaneous outpourings of emotion from the crowd. This would be a great place to have the Kleenex concession.
Rosen could've used a few tissues herself when, as an advertising major at the University of Florida, she fell into a deep depression caused in part by her parents' impending divorce. Her father, Shelly, attempted suicide.
"I was the middle child, always wanted to make everything OK, and here I was thousands of miles away," Rosen recalls. She developed an eating disorder, took prescribed antidepressants that made matters worse. Then one day, while journaling in a Gainesville bookstore, her hand began writing on its own and she heard a voice in her mind. It was her grandmother. Who committed suicide when she was 10. "She gave me a program on what to do, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually every day, to heal myself, to find inner peace," Rosen says. At that point, what did she have to lose?
Grandma also promised she would find her soul mate, Brian, who now serves as Rosen's business manager. Married almost nine years, they moved from Santa Monica to Denver to create a homier environment for their sons, Jakob, 5, and Sam, 1. "Our neighbors, I think they didn't know what to expect when they heard the psychic from LA was moving in," she says, laughing. "But they've come to realize I'm not a nut job. I just happen to do work that's a little bit alternative. So I'm able to live a somewhat normal life."
Shelly succeeded in taking his life three years ago. "After it happened, I struggled with, 'Why didn't I pick up on it?'" Rosen asks. "And I came to realize that if I was meant to pick up on it I would have, through a dream or meditation. I had to surrender to the fact that this was his journey, and he was determined. He wanted to be on the other side. I may never fully get all the answers until I'm over there with him."
Answers are the key to Spirited, a book that could put Rosen out of business if the wait for one of her private readings wasn't currently at three years. "I felt like I needed to write a book that would help people who are experiencing the same thing I am, maybe to a different degree," she says. "The bottom line is, you don't need me or any other psychic to do this. You can do it yourself."
At that moment, the cell phone in the purse of the woman in the next seat goes off. "I turned it off!" she whispers loudly. "I'm sure of it!"
Jim McFarlin is a media critic for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.