‘Long Island Medium’ Does Reading on Long Beach IslandTheresa Caputo Surprises Grieving Friend of Local Shop Owner for Upcoming Show
Legions of fans of the “Long Island Medium” TV show would die, figuratively speaking, for a chance to be “read” by the show’s namesake, Theresa Caputo. She gets hundreds of letters a day from men and women begging for a private session in order to gain information about their departed loved ones.
Two weeks ago, Dawn Bernstel, who lost her 14-year-old son Andrew in a tragic accident, was among the few who obtain the face-to-face sitdown with the famous psychic. The filmed session took place at the Beach Haven business of her lifelong best friend, Gina Walker, and they both say it changed Bernstel’s life.
The accident eight years ago “was beyond losing a child; my sister saw him die,” said Walker. “He died in an ultralight accident out in Jackson.”
On a recent Thursday morning in the Bay Village shops, Caputo’s entourage drove up in three new Cadillac Escalades to Walkers Trading Co. and taped the segment for an upcoming episode. Bernstel’s story is slated to air on The Learning Channel’s “Long Island Medium” episode called “Thankful Thursday” sometime this season, which ends in September.
If Walker wasn’t a believer before, she is now after watching the reading of her friend and “sister,” Dawn, she said.
“What this woman is doing on TV is real. You’re just dumbfounded; you can’t even believe the things she’s saying because they’re things that no one could ever have known.”
The reading accomplished what Bernstel’s friends had hoped – her overwhelming sadness was relieved. “I am not even close to being the same person I was yesterday; I am a whole new person,” she told Walker the next day.
How it transpired that Caputo came to Beach Haven was this. Manahawkin resident Susan Vaughan (no relation to the Vaughans of the neighboring restaurant in Bay Village) met Bernstel through Walker, “and saw the heaviness in her eyes,” Walker related. “Sue never knew why. So I shared the story with Sue about how we lost my nephew, Dawn’s son, at 14. I call her my sister, but Dawn is my best friend since I’ve been 5. She grew up in my house in Wall Township and her family is my family; we’ve always been together.”
“Sue took it upon herself to write a letter to Theresa Caputo, looking for some healing for Dawn. I had reached out to Theresa, too … but I never got an answer.”
“She just wanted Theresa to know that she had met someone and it broke her heart … and no woman should ever have to deal with what she was dealing with. It was tragic; it was terrible. As a matter of fact, you can still read the articles online in the Asbury Park Press.
“So for eight years she has been living a black-and-white life, dull; it flatlined her. And Theresa Caputo put the color back in her life. She was a physically changed person when she came out.”
Filming “took all day,” Walker said. “They got here at 9:30 in the morning, Theresa arrived at 11 and didn’t leave until 6 o’clock that night.”
They came and they literally took over the whole place; they came with a team of 10 – a director, a producer, the audio, a cameraman. They had three TVs set up back there where they could see her,” Walker said, pointing to a small back room hidden by a curtain. “They wouldn’t allow anyone near the store; they blocked off the store.
“I called Dawn and said, ‘I need you to come to the store. Can you come over and help me?’ When she stepped in, Theresa Caputo was standing right here and we were all in the back room; you could hear a pin drop. And all the sudden you could hear Theresa say, “Dawn,” and again you could hear a pin drop, and my sister just lost it. It was exactly what she needed, her release of emotion.”
After telling Dawn why she was there, Caputo said, “OK, let’s get this reading started,” related Walker, who in fact tells this story because it is difficult for Bernstel to retell.
For an hour and a half, the reading went on, just Caputo and Bernstel in the store, amid the handpainted and reburbished furniture of Pratt graduate artist Andrew Walker.
Caputo says she receives information as she writes, left-handed. Gina Walker saw it on the monitor later and was astounded as it unfolded.
“Theresa starts to write, and one of the first things that she did, within one minute of being with Dawn, she turned around and looked at my sister and said, ‘What’s with the 21?’”
Twenty-one, said Walker, “was Andrew’s favorite number. It was Andrew’s number in soccer, he was buried in Row 21 and the tomb is 21. He shows his presence and always has, in the number 21.”
But there was more in the reading that even the cameraman said “was unbelievable.” Walker points out that no one in the crew, nor Theresa herself, wants to know information beforehand.
A side note is that as Caputo was doing the reading, Bernstel was “reading” her. Both she and Walker are trained in neurolinguistics, the branch of linguistics that deals with the encoding of the language faculty in the brain. “We’re trained to read the body language and what your body is unconsciously doing,” said Walker. What Bernstel was noticing was that Caputo seemed to be “wrestling” to obtain the information as it was coming to her; she clearly did not already know what she was going to say.
“She said, ‘It was like he was crushed; it was a freak accident.” She kept motioning her hand downward.
The most dramatic part of the reading was yet to come.
As Walker tells the background, “The issue that Dawn had that was keeping her so stuck was, was he afraid. She couldn’t protect him as his mother and she was right there. That was literally haunting her, and in this reading, Theresa looked right at her and said, ‘He was not afraid for one minute.’
“She said, ‘He literally went from being in the air almost like ...’” Walker paused to imitate the psychic’s joyful thumbs-up waving gesture – astoundingly, the same gesture that Andrew had made to his family as he took off for the last time. “Our very last picture of Andrew was him going like that as the plane taxied past.”
Continuing, Walker said, “Theresa said, ‘He went from being happy, being in the air like that (she made the gesture again), and right into your mother’s arms.’” Caputa said this without knowing that Dawn’s mother had passed away six months prior.
The psychic told Bernstel he was “dead on impact,” and “his soul released” before impact.
That crucial bit of information is what released the years of pain in her sister, Walker said. “That’s where the transformation was; that’s where she had been stuck. She was never stuck that she didn’t believe he was with God, but she was stuck that he had been afraid. And Theresa found that and went right for it.”
Bernstel emerged “all smiles” after the reading, Walker said.
Caputo also picked up on the fact that the mother had “an event” she planned to attend, which was in fact the graduation of her son’s friends the following evening. Caputo said Andrew would appear in the graduation photographs, in the form of energy “orbs.”
“So this morning when Dawn called me, I said, ‘Did you feel him there?’” Walker said. “She said, ‘I feel him everywhere now.’ She said, ‘We already looked at all the pictures, and there are orbs everywhere.’ It’s very uplifting.”
“It was an amazing gift,” Bernstel said by telephone. “I still miss my son terribly, but this was an affirmation. It was absolutely life-changing.”