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My Story

About: Chanel Reynolds’ story.

On July 17, 2009, my husband José Hernando was hit by a van while riding his bike down a pretty road near the lake, a few miles from our house. I remember it was such a beautiful day. One of the stunning and glorious summer days in Seattle that make living through all the winter rain and gray feel worth it. He was set on going for a quick training ride before his last bike race of the season. I wanted him to go to a dinner party with me and our 5-year old instead.

Our last moment together, he was being goofy and adorable, wanting me to kiss him before he left. I refused, twice. I was mad. He tried one last time and I couldn’t help smile at him and kiss him back. My last words to him were, “Ok, I’ll kiss you, but I’m still mad at you.”

Twenty minutes later it was all over. The accident was really, really bad. It decimated his upper spine and caused an immediate traumatic cardiac arrest. Technically, he died on the scene.

But somehow, José made it to the hospital with the barest of a pulse. Everyone was shocked. The paramedics were so well trained, the hospital so close and the ER docs so amazing, José was in such incredible physical shape—they were able to keep just enough of him alive. And yet, after a time-suspending week in the ER, surgery, the ICU, every possible test told us the same story. He was never coming back. So I made the decision I was most certain he would want. I approved removing medical support, and then, quickly, he was gone.

There I was, now a single mother, grieving, facing one of the worst things that could possibly happen. The trauma and grief are enough to completely level you – and yet, the fear about having our wills drafted but not signed, not knowing how much life insurance we had, not knowing the password to his phone so I could call his family, etc. – were often the things that pushed me over the edge. All of that extra stress and pain could have easily been avoided with a few hours of organization and follow through. I don’t want anyone to suffer the same way.

Doing your will is a hassle, collecting passwords is a pain in the ass. I know, I get it. But so is going to the dentist, changing the oil in your car, and getting an annual mammogram. And, we manage to do that stuff anyway.

So, Get Your Shit Together was born. Out of scribbles in notebooks, hours and hours making phone calls and tracking stuff down. There was an unbelievable amount of help from friends. Not to mention numerous messy late nights, some very dark thoughts, and more than a handful of moments too unbearable to repeat. I (mostly) have my shit together. Now it’s your turn. I want to help.

Thank you,
Chanel