Idaho has some pretty unique places. Island Park is known for its amazing residents and beautiful scenery—especially since it’s so close to Yellowstone. Sun Valley is known as a celebrity haunt. Boise is now known for its flood of Californians. Atomic City is…well, Atomic City. And Pocatello is a bit peculiar.
Care to disagree about Pocatello? Let me point out a few things.
One of the main elementary schools is located on “666” Cheyenne Ave. The police station is on “911” N. Prominent people in town have striking or ironic names like Black or Craven; an OBGYN (who should’ve been a urologist) is named Dr. Cox and there IS a urologist named Peter. There’s a slew of other hilarious names that almost sound fictitious, but I’ll stop there.
Plus, those aren’t the strangest things. Pocatello High is internationally famous as a haunted building—and paranormal investigators travel thousands of miles to visit the place. On top of that, the funeral home (Downard) across the street from PHS got shut down for some pretty horrific things. (Just look them up!) What kind of town is this?!
Downtown Pocatello has other oddities and peculiarities many people find intriguing, and when I heard that it boasts—not a palm reader but—a toe reader, I wanted to check her out.
“This is your intuition toe,” she said, explaining how the length signifies my intuition with myself and others. She went on to talk about trust and hardships, among other things. “See this crease? You endured something really terrible in the middle of your life so far.”
My eyes widened. That’s when my first son died. But I didn’t want to tell her anything personal, so I kept my mouth shut. This was getting strange.
“Do you mind if I touch your feet?” she asked.
“Go ahead,” I said. I’d gone to see her more out of curiosity than anything because I’d never heard of a toe reader. I totally believe in pressure points in our feet and things like that, but I didn’t expect her to talk about hardships. Then she said something I haven’t forgotten for months …
I thought about all of this the other day, after my friend died from cancer. I’d just been so sad, facing her fate and what will probably be my own.
My parents had asked me and my oldest daughter to breakfast. I didn’t tell them about my poor friend who died, but I thought about her as we drove to breakfast. We passed the 666 elementary school, the haunted high school, and the 911 police station. That’s when I finally piped up. “It was really strange,” I said. “I went to a toe reader, and she said something I’ll never forget.”
“A toe reader?” my dad asked.
My parents are so sweet. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about my latest art obsession, a recipe I just tried, or a toe reader, they always seem genuinely interested. “What did she say?” my mom asked.
“She said she could tell I haven’t been doing well for about two years. And I hadn’t told her anything about cancer! Not a word.”
“Really?” Ruby said. “I’d like to go see her sometime.”
“Well, what else did she say?” my mom asked.
“She asked if I feel like I’m paying off some type of debt by being sick.”
I thought about the conversation from months ago. I’d probably gaped at the woman, shocked. “No. I don’t feel like I’m paying off a debt. But I am sick—and you’re right … It has been for almost two years. I have—what doctors call—terminal cancer.”
“Are you sure you don’t feel like you’re paying off a debt?” she said almost gently. “Are you being honest with yourself?” And then I’d started crying. Because I have felt—somewhere inside myself—that if I’m sick long enough, God will see my suffering, His heart will be softened, and He’ll forgive me … for everything.
“It sounds so silly. But deep down. Way deep down, that is how I’ve felt, this entire time. I made some HUGE mistake before my diagnosis. And I keep thinking God will forgive me if I endure enough …” Forgiveness would be even better than being physical healthy.
She explained to me how I can be so strong because I embrace life—even the bad things—but I need to realize that it’s okay to have good things happen too. “I want you to repeat after me,” she’d said. “I am worthy of receiving goodness. I am worthy of being healthy. I am worthy.”
I’d repeated the words, even if it sounded so silly. There I sat, crying, getting my toes read, saying that I felt like my terminal illness could forgive my sins.
I told my family all of this on our way to breakfast. “I honestly don’t know why I’m telling you this story,” I said as we pulled into the diner’s parking lot. “I just felt like I should.”
My mom looked at me. “I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this, Elisa. It breaks my heart.”
We got out of the car and my dad hugged me. I know he doesn’t always understand me and my eccentricities, but he loves me anyway.
“I am worthy of receiving,” I thought to myself as we waited to be seated. What a strange thing to say.
“Pocatello is such a weird little town,” I told Ruby as we walked to the table. That specific diner slips customers their bills in classic novels. Patrons never know which book their bill might come in. Last time I got “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Hilarious, since the diner isn’t too far from Hyde Street!
“It kind of is a different place.” Ruby nodded.
“Almost like a Halloween town.”
Anyway, after we sat down, the waitress took our drink orders, and I kept thinking how easy it is to embrace the bad because at least I won’t get hurt from being let down. But maybe the toe reader was right. My friend just died, and I need to hope for health, embrace the good, and realize the obvious—that I’m not paying off some stupid debt. It’s okay for me to hope. Hope that I’ll get better. Even though the odds are against me, I guess it’s okay to be vulnerable. Even if what I have to lose … is my life.
That’s when the waitress set down all of our coffee cups. Everyone got a different cup with unique colors, but words shone on mine alone. I turned it around, so excited to read what it said, and my breath caught in my throat. “I am worthy of receiving…” The words sprawled under a bright rainbow. I showed Ruby and my parents, completely dumbfounded RIGHT after telling them that story. “It’s what the toe reader told me!”
“THAT is weird,” Ruby said.
“It really is,” my mom agreed.
And so, after breakfast, I left the diner reaffirming that Pocatello is such a strange place—and that the oddest things happen here.
Regardless of how bizarre this whole series of events might seem, I did find a bit more peace this week.
I guess I am worthy of receiving something good. We all are. But sometimes it’s nice to remember even if it is in the most unexpected ways.