Mills’ beliefs propelled her to engage in a televised reading by psychic James Van Praagh on his now-canceled program, Beyond. During her segment with Van Praagh, family friend Sir Laurence Olivier (who died in 1989) and Josh, among others, made appearances. “Van Praagh said, ‘Josh said he’s glad you’re here, but he knew you’d come. And you wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him!’ Now that sounded exactly like Josh to me!” says Mills with a laugh.
Adds Van Praagh, “When Josh came through, he kept on running around behind her. He was a very bright light. He was just playing with her, almost prodding and poking her in a fun way, like, ‘Ha ha, here I am. I told you I’d see you!’ With him, I got joy –joy, joy, joy. The first thing Josh said was, ‘I’m out of pain — I’m happy to be here.’ And I felt that with him. I felt it was a big sigh of relief for him.”
Watching her co-star physically deteriorate was difficult for Mills. “I got very frustrated, because I didn’t think he was going to the doctor and doing all the things he should. The last time I saw him, he looked so frail and so ill. If he smiled, his lips were just stretched over his teeth. It didn’t even look like a smile anymore. A lot of people blamed Cheryl. While she could have been more forceful, I don’t think it would have mattered. He was the boss. He was a lot more powerful than he looked! He wanted to finish his time on the show and the storyline that was established with Timmy dying. If he had gone to the doctor sooner, which we were all trying to get him to do, [the doctors] would have said, ‘You’ve got to stop working right now.’ And he never would have stood for it. If it shortened his life at all, it was only by a few weeks or a few months. But that’s the way he wanted it.”“There was something wrong, but we didn’t know what exactly. Everybody was on me about it, because he lost weight and he was looking terrible,” explains Cheryl Evans, who adds that, at first, both she and Josh dismissed his weight loss and fatigue as a temporary byproduct of his grueling schedule. “And we didn’t realize it was his heart because it wasn’t the same symptoms as it had been before.” It took a while for Cheryl to convince Josh to see the doctor. “He was the most stubborn€ I truly suspect that he didn’t grow because he didn’t want to.” Even when Cheryl finally convinced Josh to see a cardiologist, “He wanted to go to Sea World first,” she recalls with a laugh. “But, it didn’t work out that way. They were suspecting that it was exhaustion, too, until they did the echo[cardiogram], because they couldn’t believe that he could have kept up the schedule that he had with [a bad heart]. After they did the echo, they said he was going to need two, maybe three heart surgeries to correct all the problems. In retrospect, as bad as his heart was, he never could have done the things that he did if he hadn’t had the will of a nation.”As she continues the Passions journey by herself that she had started with Josh, Mills buoys her spirit by reaching out for his. “I was having a hard time doing the show without him, so I took a walk in the park. The skies were gray –they were actually blue, but they were gray to me. Nobody was around. I was just wandering through, talking to myself, saying, ‘Oh, come on, Josh. Give me a sign! Please!’ Out of nowhere came this white egret, flying very low across the park, and it came right down the path where I was walking. I took that as my sign.”Mills, whose husband, Maxwell Caulfield (ex-Pierce Riley, All My Children; ex-Miles Colby, The Colbys) shares in her beliefs, has no time to worry about skeptics or naysayers. “I seem to be attracted to fellow believers, anyway,” she says with a laugh. “Besides, there’s not much time to be skeptical, in this day and age especially. Time is too precious for us all. You’ve got to get on with the positive things
and keep that bubble of light around you.”
This article originally appeared in the April 29, 2003 issue of Soap Opera Weekly.