The morning of July 24th 2009 was a day I will never forget; a day that changed the way I put meaning into every dream, and a day that will change my life forever in a sense, that I can never take life for granite, especially when it comes to people whom I love and have spent “my” entire life with.
A week earlier, I had a bad dream. A dream that will haunt me until the day I die. I dreamed my sister passed away and I had to tell everyone that she was dead. I still remember standing under the carport with family sitting around; talking and laughing while a cool breeze made its way through the trees. We were having a family gathering; but one of us was missing. As I walked out the front door, I could feel a sense of dread come over me, but I could not quiet put my finger on it. And then the words flew out of my mouth. “Charity’s passed away”. I said. I remember the sudden mood of everyone around me with their empty eyes and pale faces. Everyone looked at me as if they could see right through me. They must have thought I was crazy or something.
The dream was so real that it woke me with a jolt. I lay there facing the window, thinking about what had just happened; trying to adjust my eyes to the bright Sunday morning sun and piece together what I knew was a nightmare. As the morning went on, I thought about this dream and the more that ran through my head, the more worried I became. My sister and I had a falling out the Christmas before when she visited my home, only to leave with my prescription drugs. She was an addict and had been for many years. First on cocaine and then later, oxycotin became her drug of choice. She once told our brother that this drug was hard to break and kicking the habit seemed to be futile.
I called my mother around noon to find out if she knew where Charity was living. She did not know the exact place but asked why I needed to know so badly. I told her of the dream that I had and she kind of laughed and shrugged it off since she didn’t believe too much emphasis on dream. My mother and I tried to call Charity but her phone had been disconnected and without thinking of who else to call for help, I let it go; shaking it off as just another bad dream.
In the early morning hours of July 24th, I was up around 7:30am watching Third Watch and exercising when the phone rang. I looked at the caller ID, and it was my mother. I suddenly realized that my mother lived in a time zone one hour behind me; making her time 6:30am. That feeling of dread came over me again, like déjà as I cautiously answered. “Hello”, I said. “Mother why are calling me so early”? “What is wrong’?
As I stood there with the phone to my ear, all I could hear was the sound of my mother’s voice screaming to the top of her lungs that someone was dead. I was in a daze at this point and maybe it was the dread that made the sound of her voice seem like a mumble. When I finally got her calmed down, I began to ask questions. At first I thought she was talking about her husband, but then I heard the name Charity. “Mom, did you say Charity”? A quivering voice on the other end stopped and said “yes”. “Is she dead mama”? I asked. Again the voice said “yes”. I felt my heartbeat stop, then I screamed “mama no”, as the phone plunged from my hand to the floor. I fell at the foot of my bed screaming and crying; facing the fear and dread of that dream and feeling a hole in my heart open up to a world that would be void until the time of my own death.
Although my mother, at my request, was trying to bring my sister and I together; to let everything go and not let a bottle of pills come between us, and although closing in on success; the day came too late. I never held my sister again and I never told her that I loved her one more time; not since that Christmas evening. And though dreams can sometimes paint a picture of the past; a subconscious mind; very rare do mine reflect an event in the future; a warning that went unnoticed. What started out as a dream had turned into a nightmare; a reality of everything that hides in the mind. Can dreams be warnings of things to come? A picture of the future; or do dreams play out the thoughts hidden deep in the subconscious?
With whatever reasoning we can put on our dreams, I know now to not take any dreams so vivid, so clear and so disturbing for granite. My life will forever be changed with the loss of my sister Charity because of drugs, but I’m haunted by my actions for thinking it could never happen at such a tender age; not to our family, yet I’m reminded of her everyday through memories and the eyes of her child, who now lives with me.
In Loving Memory This Memorial Day
Charity Lynn Smith Helton
January 21st 1968-July 24th 2008
A soldier who fought the war on drugs and lost.