ATLANTA — Selena Kai Williamson was born on September 13, 2019. Although her life was short, her smile still radiates warmth. She was bright, always reaching for love and already on the move -- crawling fast to friends and family.
“Ajsa and I had a theme for Selena’s 1st birthday party. It was going to be sunflowers,” said Brooklyn Goodall, Selena’s grandmother.
No matter the obstacle, a young sunflower turns its body to find the sun. It’s what the family of 10-month-old Selena– and her 5-year-old brother, Juwan – must do now.
“He loved her. He was like her caregiver,” said Brooklyn.
Selena and her brother, Juwan, were very close.
“He couldn’t go to school, she was his best friend,” said Michael Goodall, Selena’s grandfather.
Brooklyn and Michael Goodall watched as the COVID-19 pandemic made the most painful moment of their lives that much harder.
“About 4 o’clock in the morning, [Brooklyn’s] phone rang. It was the Cobb County Police Department telling us there had been an accident. Three people were in three different hospitals,” said Michael.
Their daughter, Ajsa, was bringing their grandkids home when a driver sped into her lane and hit her Jeep head-on. Ajsa was taken to one hospital, 5-year-old Juwan to another. And 10-month-old Selena was brought to a third hospital and pronounced dead.
“When we walked into the emergency room, and we saw the chaplain and they asked us to come to the family room, we kind of just knew,” said Michael.
Ajsa didn’t know. The next morning, her parents were told they could tell her over the phone, but not in person because of COVID-19.
“For them to want to tell us, ‘You have to tell your daughter her daughter passed away,’ by phone, and you can’t be there to support her is horrible,” said Michael.
Brooklyn and Michael finally convinced the hospital to give them 15 minutes in person.
“We broke this news to our daughter. We spent this little bit of time with her. And we had to leave,” said Brooklyn.
“To leave, and now she’s in a room by herself, knowing one child is in the hospital, the other one’s deceased, that’s a soul-crushing thing,” added Michael.
The past five months have tested so many souls -- souls touched by not COVID-19, but its impact on all facets of life: work, play, love, grief.
“We’re always hearing the phrase, ‘This is the new norm. This is the new norm.’ And I understand, again, some cases, but not in every case,” said Brooklyn.
Bit by bit, the Goodalls are returning to one roof. Ajsa came home last week. Juwan has broken arms and a brain injury, but is testing well. Brooklyn and Michael are pushing through it all to support their family and try to find the sun.
“We should be planning a party, not a memorial,” said Brooklyn.
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