My favorite aspect of these celebrity interviews is that we learn so much, spiritually, from the struggles they’ve been through. The tricky part is incorporating that lesson into our own lives to circumvent some of those struggles ourselves. Reading words on a computer screen. Easy. Putting them into action. Not so much.
Me: Oh, gosh, I haven’t even picked our celebrity for today.
Jamie: Oh, who is Dean? Is that someone on the list?
Me: Well, let’s see. Oh, yeah. James Dean.
Jamie: James Dean? I thought it was a first name! Erik told us that this morning—he’s just been so sweet to me all day!
Me: Awww! Watch your back, girl! Nah, I’m just kidding.
Jamie: Something else is coming, huh? So, he told me we’re going to talk to Dean, and I was like, ‘Dean? Who’s Dean?’
Me: James Dean, that’s right!
Erik: The guy with the big forehead.
Me: Oh, yeah, he did have a big forehead, didn’t he?
Me: Oh, he’s here?
Jamie: Uh huh. Erik already got him.
Me: Oh, okay. Hello Mr. Dean!
James: Hello, ma’am.
Me: Aw, you always struck me as someone who would say, “ma’am.” Of course you probably know what we’re here for; I guess we’ll just jump right in with our first question. What beliefs, Mr. Dean, did you have about death and the afterlife before you crossed over?
Jamie: He said he was—he’s wearing these jeans, and he has this big black belt, real dark color, looks like it’s leather. It’s not very smooth, and the jeans are worn. They’re not like the crisp, uh, they’re not faded; they’re just worn. And he’s got one hand in the pocket, and he’s kind of tilted on one hip.
James: Well, I was a pretty twisted kid.
Me: Can you elaborate?
James: Only my mama could understand who I was.
Jamie: He’s got an odd sense of humor.
James: I didn’t necessarily connect to everybody I came in contact with. I was very much withdrawn.
Jamie: He says that they were Quakers?
Me: Really? Wow, I had no idea!
Jamie: Aren’t Quakers, um, maybe I got it mixed up. What’s a Quaker?
Me: It’s a religion, very puritanical. They were one of the first pilgrims to come to the New World.
Jamie: That’s what I was thinking, but I didn’t think they existed in modern days.
Me: So, that was kind of a rigid belief set for you, James, right?
James: Yes, ma’am, and as you can guess, anything that had a heavy structure, I would push against.
Me: Yeah, of course.
Jamie: Wasn’t his nickname “The Rebel”?
Me: I think he played in a movie about a rebel. Rebel Without a Cause?
James: I really didn’t’—
Jamie (babbling nonsensically): Blah bubba blah bubba blah. He’s talking and talking! I just never imagined him to be that way!
Jamie, Erik and I all laugh.
Jamie: James, can you please back up? I’d like to repeat everything that you say, so if you give me some pauses, then I can—
Jamie: He talked about the people at his church. Sorry this is not verbatim.
Me: Oh, that’s okay.
Jamie: It’s okay that it’s not verbatim?
Me: Oh, yeah, of course, Jamie!
Jamie: He’s kind of a smooth talker, sometimes a bit of a mumbler, but he’s real creative when he talks. He gives this imagery and color and feelings, like vivid.
Jamie: He’s a really creative guy! And he talks about being friends with the pastor and kind of hanging out with the pastor and talking with him and kind of pushing the envelope of the rules of the church with him, but really not being involved in it so much for a community setting, for a social setting.
Me: What do you mean?
Jamie: It was very internalized and personal.
Me: Interesting. So he was challenging the beliefs and exploring them with the pastor? Is that what you’re saying, James?
James: Very much so, and I really feel the pastor took it—
Jamie: Huh? I’m sorry, excuse me?
Erik: That’s rude!
Jamie and I laugh.
Jamie: He was either abused or something—a line was crossed. A line was crossed in the church with him.
Me: Oh, no.
Jamie: I don’t know if he’s talking about sexual abuse; I keep asking him about it, but he was personally—
Me: Attacked or shunned?
Jamie: Told to be quiet. That’s the part that makes me think sexual abuse.
Me: Oh. Terrible.
James: So when it came to beliefs, I had all of these structures and beliefs I wanted to fight against, and I finally found an intellect. I wouldn’t necessarily call the pastor a friend, but definitely an intellect that I could push the envelop with. Even that in itself went overboard. So, not even that I could believe in. I really renounced, uh, I believed something existed larger than myself. But I could never find that title, that fit. I never felt carefully watched over or loved by a Greater Source.
Me: After you crossed over, how did your paradigm change?
James: Very shocked.
Jamie: He put his hand on the table when he said that. And of course, Erik is sitting on top of the table.
James: Very shocked, because I found most of what I accepted as a source of comfort was really manmade, and most of what terrorized me was also manmade. So, I really felt devoid of a greater belief, very empty. It was in that very moment in my afterlife that I found that at the greatest point of feeling empty, I was most fulfilled. At the deepest point of emptiness, I was most fulfilled.
Me: And that happened when you crossed over?
James: Yes. Then, I realized there is life after death, and I truly believe this is where life begins, and that earth is—
Jamie (giggling): He first called it a dumping place, then he quickly wanted to take that back.
James (chuckling): A learning place.
Me: A learning place! Yes, sometimes it feels like a dumping place—a giant landfill in the universe. So, what was your transition like for you?
James: I was hit; I had an accident.
Me: Car accident, yes.
James: It was pretty much a sudden impact to my body. Don’t you find it interesting that when you asked how my death was, I immediately associated it with my body?
Me: Yes, I suppose so!
James: I thought so too, because there’s another part of me that had a different experience, and that was the one where I was saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening. Why isn’t anyone helping me? Why won’t I move?’ I watched it all. I stood over myself. I thought about how I was too young, and my career was just taking off! I thought, ‘Man, I really must have done something wrong.’ I took it as a personal punishment.
Me: Aw. So, you hit somebody head-on, I think.
When Erik died, the funeral home took prints of his thumbs in case we wanted necklaces or rings made with them later. I was in no shape to order anything at that point, but they told us they’d keep the prints forever, so.. Anyway, I finally got the courage up to order a necklace. Here’s Erik’s thumbprint.