Hidden, Unknown, Lost and Found Treasures
**Trigger warning - this piece touches on death, medical mishaps and a challenging birth experience that could be activating**
It’s been nearly six years since my dad died unexpectedly, and I’m still going through his things and making the space (the house) my own. Moving into a full house while bringing my house full of belongings makes for a lot of stuff. I’ve purged over the years, yet clearly it seems as if things continue to multiply.
I'm getting to the last of the fine details of things where I’m going through his office. The office became the ‘catch all’ room over the years as I’ve slowly remodeled the house. I found myself in a space where I wasn’t ready to go through everything or get rid of everything without going through everything, so his stuff, my stuff, and my son’s stuff found its way to the office abyss.
The end of 2022, I was finally ready to really tackle the office and make it functional, but was having a hard time doing it by myself. Thankfully, my brother and SIL came down to help me. We found many hidden, lost and unknown treasures while going through things. We found things from our childhood, belongings of our grandparents,and even the name of our great grandfather. The treasure that surprised and hit me the most was finding my very first written last will and testament.
This was written in 2009 while I was lying in a hospital bed, hooked to an IV while being pumped with magnesium a few days after delivering my son via emergency C-section at 26 weeks gestation (that’s 3 ½ months early). I won’t recount my birth story here, but if you are interested in reading it and learning more about how I came into the work that I do, you can read my book And God Remembered Noah: A mother’s heart-opening journey through 22 weeks in the NICU. I can share that I felt like I did right before my son was delivered. I was confused and terrified not knowing if either of us would make it out alive. My heart was racing and I felt weird. I knew what I was feeling wasn’t normal. I was ignored and dismissed during my pregnancy, up until 30 minutes before delivering, when I kept saying something was wrong. Now that my son was here, I knew I needed to put something in place in the event I became incapacitated or died. My mom was in the room with me as I began sharing how I was feeling. I asked her to write down my wishes and let me sign it. She was reluctant. She said there wasn’t anything to write on. I thought I saw a napkin, and asked her to write on that. I dictated. She wrote. I signed. Whew, thank God that is done, now we can call the team and figure out what’s going on were my thoughts.
I asked for my blood pressure to be taken and it was outrageous. I was diagnosed very late with preeclampsia (pregnancy induced high blood pressure) and undiagnosed HELLP syndrome (my body was shutting down). It took time to get my levels straight and my body right. After a week, I went home without my baby and a long road to recovery. Yesterday, I was transported and traveled back to 13 years ago, lying in a hospital bed dictating my wishes. What I thought was a napkin actually turned out to be an envelope, written on the information protection side (it's giving optical illusion vibes). Here are the words I dictated to mom:
Phyllis Leyden Alexander can make medical decisions for Noah in event I am not able. Michael and Hillary will …(illegible word) to have custody in the event of my death.
6/20/09 Naomi D. Williams
There are so many take-aways for me in this one little story.
Trust your instincts - you know your body better than anyone else. Advocate for yourself until someone truly listens.
The black maternal mortality rate in America is abysmal and can be rectified if providers trusted us and truly listened.
Grief is a beast. Give yourself grace and permission to grieve on your timetable.
Grief is a journey. There is no destination.
Grief is the experience of loss and can encompass several things at once.
Life is a gift - no matter how long or brief it lasts.
Having an advance directive, will and life insurance are non-negotiables. They are a must!