There are some things that take a long time for me to talk about. Charity is one of them.
Charity and I were destined to be friends. I fought it, though. It’s a funny story. I don’t remember exactly how old I was when we met but I do remember the exact situation because of the sheer awkwardness of it.
My parents and Charity’s went back many years somehow to this commune type place we lived for a short time before it turned into an all out cult situation. A story for another time.
Her family had just moved to Reedley, which was practically just down the street from our sweet little town of Dinuba. (It’s sweet in my nostalgic mind anyway.) My parents were super excited for my sister, Sarah, and I to meet Charity and her sister. They were close to our ages which predisposed us to get along famously. Obviously.
Because my parents were so insistent that we would all get along, Sarah and I decided that we would not, under any circumstances, enjoy the company of these two miscreants. Just to spite my parents. What did they know anyway. And to add insult to injury (maybe a strong euphemism here) we were invited to their house for a frickin birthday party. A birthday party! So, not only were we about to meet some strange girls that we were being forced to like, but also a house full of more complete strangers. My angst was in high gear.
What I couldn’t have known til I stepped into that house was that there was no way to not to like Charity. She had this wild head of hair and an infectious laugh and was so damn funny. My resolve to dislike her melted like a snow cone in August.
Charity was hilarious, generous, kind and adventurous. She had a way of talking me into things I would never have done, like hopping a fence to climb a water tower. Or going on bad blind dates. Ones that ended with both boys hitting on her. Charity also taught me the joy of do it yourself model shoots. We didn’t need no stinking “glamor shots” from the mall. Oh no. We just needed a few picturesque spots and a day that my sister was gone (so we could raid her closet.) Photo to the left.
We were constantly dying each others hair a new shade of red (hers was a nightmare, there was just so much of it!) We had all night movie marathons and ate ice cream out of the carton. I remember this one night we had eaten so much ice cream with toppings we were nearly sick then we got to the scene in The Piano when a little girl’s finger gets chopped off. (Remind me why this happens??) We just about lost it. We rolled around clutching our stomachs in fits of laughter and horror.
Charity loved to play guitar and we sat around with friends or just the two of us and sang for hours. It’s one of my favorite memories. She was this beautiful, free spirit and you couldn’t help feeling like everything was going to be ok when you were around her.
Charity was one of my biggest fans and she was always encouraging me when I was sure I would never find “the one”. We both went on some bad dates, and some good ones too. We laughed and cried together. A lot. When my time finally came she was in my wedding and when I had my first baby, she was the first one in line to offer babysitting. She was always there for me and always seemed to know when I needed an encouraging note or a hug.
I was so thrilled when Charity met the guy of her dreams. His proposal was so sweet and planning her wedding was like a dream. Charity’s mom was going to make her dress, but I insisted that we still go and try on dresses, since it had been such a fun experience for me.
She was on her way to my house when she was in an accident. I don’t remember exactly how I found out exactly. I just know I was trying to track her down because she was running late and I was told she had been in an accident and was headed to the hospital.
I waited with her family and friends at the hospital as we slowly got word on how she was doing. Finally we got news that she wasn’t in great shape but that it appeared she just needed her gallbladder out. It was such a relief and I remember joking with a friend that we would have to break the news to her that she wouldn’t be able to eat fried foods anymore. I even remember calling her boss to let him know show would be out of commission for a little while. I left the hospital planning to come see the next day. She was going to be ok. It was such a relief.
In the middle of the night I got the call. It was her finance. It was very brief, he just said that they hadn’t been able to get the swelling in her brain down and she hadn’t made it. Just like that she was gone.
I can’t properly express the shock I went through or the feelings that came after. I can’t fully express the thoughts that came…she was on her way to my house. To my house. Grief has many faces.
I will always grieve the fact that Charity never got to walk down the aisle, or be a wife or a mom. Or become the adult version of herself. She didn’t get to watch her siblings grow up. Or be there for her mom during rough times.
Charity was my constant cheerleader. She not only knew me but got me. She would have been a brilliant wife and mother had she gotten the chance.
She was my brilliant friend.
Charity, I love you and will miss you forever.