Matthew Palmer’s mother, Susan, doesn’t believe in clairvoyance. She can’t reconcile that, however, with the fact that a psychic predicted—with inexplicable accuracy—her husband’s untimely death. It would happen, said the fortune teller, when her son turned 13. At that point, Susan didn’t even have a son.
After Palmer was born, his parents would sometimes joke about the psychic’s prediction. Then, three weeks following Palmer’s 13th birthday, his father died. Susan recounts the eerie story in What the Psychic Saw, Palmer’s short documentary, told entirely through archival home videos and a recorded phone call with his mother.
“I only learned of the impact the psychic’s words had on my mom while making this film,” Palmer told The Atlantic. According to the filmmaker, the shock and trauma of his father’s sudden death left Susan with limited emotional capacity. She couldn’t process the fact that the prediction had come true.
“It wasn’t until about a year later, when life became more stable and manageable emotionally, that I reflected on the prediction,” Susan said. “At that point, my reaction was one of awe and discomfort.”
Like his mother, Palmer doesn’t believe that psychics can predict the future. “But the fact that this one did just that still amazes [my mother],” Palmer said. “A few times when she’s told the story, she ends it with some variation of ‘Who knows?’ as if to say that maybe—just maybe—some people know things about the universe that we don’t.”