As a pandemic turns life upside down, Seattle writer helps people prepare for the unthinkable
A few months ago, who would have thought we’d be isolated in our homes so that we don’t catch a virus that is killing thousands of people around the world?
Preparing for the unthinkable is something Seattle writer Chanel Reynolds is very familiar with.
Reynolds has been helping people to do this for years through her blog, Get Your S##t Together and her book, "What Matters Most: The Get Your S##t Together Guide To Wills, Money, Insurance and Life’s ‘What Ifs.’" She knows what it’s like to be unprepared because of her own experience with an unexpected tragedy.
“Well I will joke that I came to this work by accident and it really is quite literally because of an accident,” said Reynolds.
In July 2009, her husband, Jose Hernando — and father of their 5-year-old son, Gabe — went for a bike ride on Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle, a windy road that hugs the lake’s shoreline.
“I was over at a friend's house for a barbecue and picked up my phone out of my purse and saw that I had dozens of missed calls and messages from numbers I didn't recognize,” Reynolds recalled.
Eventually, Reynolds realized the calls were coming from the hospital. Hernando was hit by a van, and doctors were trying to save his life.
She tried to use Hernando’s phone to call his friends and family members to tell them this devastating news — but she couldn’t get to those numbers because Jose’s phone was locked with a passcode that Chanel did not know.
“So I sat there banging numbers into the phone for hours and hours and never actually got in,” Reynolds said.
She’d soon learn that this was just one of many walls that would take her years to break through, if ever.
Her husband was unresponsive and on a ventilator. Doctors told Reynolds that Hernando was never going to get better. After a week in the hospital, Reynolds did what she knew what her husband would want. She took him off life support.
Hospital staff asked Reynolds if her affairs were in order. Her answer: “Well yeah, sort of.”
In this story, Reynolds tells us what we all can do to prepare for the unexpected so that when it does happen, we can be more present for the people who need us, and better able to make important decisions. Or, in the worst case scenario, preparing for when we die so those left behind aren’t left with anything to sort through and figure out.