If you ran into Laura Lynne Jackson at the supermarket or in the halls of Herricks High School, you would see a regular working mom. But if you were particularly intuitive, you'd suspect there's more to Jackson than meets the eye. While teaching English and raising children with her attorney husband, Garrett, the Long Island native has for years performed psychic readings to help people communicate with loved ones who have died. This month Jackson released her first book, "The Light Between Us: Stories From Heaven, Lessons for the Living" (Spiegel & Grau, $26), a combination memoir and inspirational guide. She'll be discussing the book and signing copies at Book Revue in Huntington on Friday, Oct. 30.
Newsday spoke to Jackson about her history, her philosophy and her predictions for the future. Here are some excerpts from our talk.
Tell me about your first psychic experience.
It wasn't a positive one! I was 11. It was a hot August day and I was swimming in the pool with my siblings. My mom came out to say she was going to visit my grandparents and she would see us later. I had a moment of absolute panic. I screamed to her to wait for me. I knew I had to go. When we got there, I spent a really magical day with my grandfather. Two or three days later he was diagnosed with leukemia, and he crossed within three weeks. I never got to see him again.
At the time, I felt cursed, complicit. I felt alone in the world and that there was something wrong with me. It took me years to understand what a gift this was, to sense that someone I loved was about to go on this journey to the other side, and I could spend more time with him before that happened.
What do you see as your purpose when you perform a reading for someone? What are people looking for, and how do you help them?
It differs from person to person. I look at myself as a vehicle for messages to come through. The other side knows what to focus on, without me asking. What's interesting is that readings are always a source of healing and clarity. I've never had a reading where anyone walked away scared and uncomfortable.
You do volunteer work, reading for parents who have lost children.
The Forever Family Foundation holds retreats for bereaved parents. When I read for them, their children are so alive. These children will bring up things that are going on right now, to let their parents know they are present and to help them heal. I remember one mother whose child was murdered, shot. And his message to her was that he was supporting her in her work for gun legislation so this wouldn't happen to other children. He let us know that together they had already saved two children's' lives.
Can anybody develop psychic ability?
The other side can be highly creative. I tell people who want to begin a dialogue to pick a concrete sign for each loved one who has passed. It can be anything. Someone I know chose the Eiffel Tower and a giraffe as signs, and suddenly those signs started cropping up in the most unbelievable ways, letting him know that the other side was present.
Why did you keep this part of your life separate from your job teaching English?
I was always worried that if word got out about my readings, it would be a distraction, interfere with my teaching, and I might lose my job.
I was appearing at an event and some teachers had gotten tickets. So I told the principal. Everyone was a little bit curious, and supportive. When the students found out later, it was interesting. They already knew me and trusted me, so they were very open to what I do, and never disrespectful about it.
Before this, I think I had been taking the path of fear. But when I came out at school, the most beautiful things happened. It made me realize I can't be two separate people. We all have a responsibility to find our greatest gifts and not be afraid. When we become our best versions of ourselves, we help others on their path.
What do you say to the skeptics?
My parents, who were both teachers, raised me to be a critical thinker. A critical thinker doesn't just accept things at face value -- he or she questions, engages, explores and seeks truths. What I hope for any skeptic is that, rather than dismissing, they question, explore and be open to whatever truths they may find out. The universe is far grander and more magnificent than we can imagine.
WHAT Laura Lynne Jackson discusses "The Light Between Us"
WHEN | WHERE Friday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. at Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO Free, 631-271-1442, bookrevue.com