How to save a life.

A long time ago, my dream visions saved my younger sister’s life. You might not believe in anything beyond the physical, what you can detect with your five senses, and I’m not here to convince you otherwise. I’m simply an observer of phenomena I can’t explain, a reporter of the strange and wonderful things I’ve seen. This is simply one more, but it was a major event in my family. Read on, if you will.

I was a very young woman, just 21 years old, married to a Marine and living in an unimpressive apartment not far from the base. We had very little money. Enlisted military personnel risk their lives but live below the poverty line in our country. Because our first child, our daughter, was just a baby, I was staying home with her rather than working outside the home (and paying all of my earnings to a stranger for daycare).

I wouldn’t call our apartment squalid, exactly, because I kept it as nice as I could, but it did have gold carpeting that dated back to the late 1960s, ugly wood paneling, and a patio door through which the wind blew nearly as strongly indoors as it did outdoors. In winter, we fastened plastic sheeting over it and the front window to try to keep the place warm, but the place was always too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. With the bulk of my husband’s income going to rent and keeping our car running, plus paying to have his uniforms cleaned and pressed (so he wouldn’t fail any inspections), we had no money for a telephone. For all the whining people do now about inflation and cost of living, very few know what it is like to be without a telephone. When our infant daughter got deathly ill after a trip we took my mother’s house that summer, we couldn’t call for an ambulance at 4:30 a.m., when she woke us up with a pitiful cry but a refusal to eat. She was very pale and seemed weak. It was a true emergency, but we had to just bundle her up and drove like mad to the base hospital, where she very nearly died at the age of just six months. We couldn’t make that call for an ambulance, because our only method for calling anyone involved using the phone in the apartments’ office (and calling collect, when speaking to relatives, none of whom lived nearby). I would have needed a car to get to the closest payphone, and my husband’s hours were long and unpredictable. He usually had the car. In other words, phone calls were luxuries we lived without most of the time.

I have found old notebooks from that period in my life. It amazes me that we were able to stretch $650 a month to feed the three of us and buy diapers. While I was able to enroll in WIC, which provided us with non-meat sources of protein and (had we used it) baby formula, most things had to come out of that $650 paycheck.

During that time, I fell asleep one night and had a terrible dream. In the dream, I could see my little sister getting into a red car with a guy. I don’t remember what kind of car it was, but it looked like a fast one. It was the kind of car we never had. Things happened quickly in the dream, and soon I saw the car crashing into something – a tree? another car? a jersey wall? It was a jolting crash, and I sat up, drenched in sweat. I woke up my husband and tried to tell him about it. I was panicked.

He reassured me and tried to get me to calm down.

“You don’t understand how real it was,” I said. “It’s like I was right there with them.”

We got very little sleep as new parents. Our daughter cried all the time and after the scare we had already had with her, we slept light. My long-suffering husband just wanted to get some more sleep before his 4:00 a.m. alarm, but I was done sleeping for the night. I knew that I had to get a message back home.

The next day, I went to the office as soon as they opened. I got permission to use their phone to call my mother. There was no answer at her house. My heart sank. Could I be too late in warning them? Trying to stay calm, I called my grandmother’s house, because my mother and sister would sometimes go there when they had gas money. (My mother lived in town, while my grandmother lived about 10 miles out in the country.) My grandmother accepted the charges for my call.

“Granny,” I said in a rush, “Are Mom and Penny with you? Is Penny okay?”

“They ain’t here,” she said. “I talked to ’em this mornin’ and they seemed fine.”

“You have to tell them this,” I said. “Don’t let Penny get into a red car.”

The line was silent for a moment. “A red car?”

“Yes, just trust me. I had a very vivid dream about Penny getting into a terrible crash in a red car.”

My grandmother agreed to pass the word. She was not the grandmother I mentioned in a previous post, so it wasn’t as though she was very familiar with the whole spirit connection. But she did believe there are things we aren’t meant to understand in this world. I gave her the number at the office and said she should call me if anything happened. Satisfied that I had done my due diligence, I wheeled my daughter home in the little yard sale stroller we had and returned to that crappy, lonely apartment.

The next day, I got up and went through my normal routine. Change the baby. Feed the baby. Find some time to feed myself. Exercise with the daily Joanie Greggains workout program on our little 13″ television set. Shower while my little one screamed her lungs out in her crib. I had no help. I had no relatives nearby. My husband was never home, because enlisted infantrymen do not have lives.

It was after my shower, while my hair was still wet, that I heard the knock at the front door. I left my baby in the playpen and ran down the steps to answer. It was the apartment manager, and he said my mother had left a message for me to call her back. (Looking back, I realize it was very decent of the manager to allow people like us to use the office phone. He dealt with almost exclusively enlisted personnel and their families, so he knew how close to the edge we all lived.)

I got myself and my little one together and wheeled her back down to the office with me. Nervously, I called my mother collect. She accepted the charges.

“How are you?” I asked. “How is Penny?”

“Well, she’s fine,” she said. “But how did you know she was going with a boy who drove a red car?’

“So she didn’t get in the car, right?”

“No,” she said. “Mama told us what you said, and I wouldn’t let her go with that boy last night.”

“Oh good,” I said. “I hope she doesn’t get into his car again at all!”

“She won’t,” my mother said. “There’s no red car anymore. He wrecked it last night.”

The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I gulped, “He did?”

“He did,” she said. “He wrapped it around a tree last night, going too fast. It killed him.”

I nearly dropped the phone. The edges of my vision sparkled and swam. My ears rang with a high-pitched whine. The apartment manager told me afterward that I had gone ghostly white all of a sudden.

My sister is still alive today. Her life has been very hard, but she is alive. I don’t know why I had that dream, but I did. It was vivid and frightening. It demanded I take action. I’ve had many dreams since then, rarely as prophetic or as important. Many times I’ll dream of something that will happen to me the next day or later in the week. Trivial things like dropping a plate or getting a message from a friend. When the big dreams come, though, I’m ready. I’m convinced that they hold meaning.

One of the things I believe is that time is a continuum. The past, the present, and the future span across space. If you are tuned in, you can tap in. If you listen, you’ll hear that inner voice, which might be your intuition or some higher power communicating with you. Whatever you might believe, I just know that I received a warning, and that warning saved my sister’s life.

Peace, Jude

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