PaperTexture - Jackson community mourns unexpected death of child remembered for style, creativity

Jackson community mourns unexpected death of child remembered for style, creativity

JACKSON, MI – Alaya Wilson was a budding artist, musician and cosmetologist who played softball and was getting ready to start playing volleyball, her father said, describing a 12-year-old ready for her next weekend adventure with friends.

“She was a very social butterfly,” Jay Wilson said.

There was perhaps no other activity Alaya loved more than cosmetology, Wilson said, a profession she dreamed of entering.

“I mean, she loved doing the makeup,” Wilson said. “She watched all the different shows. She liked doing the cosplay where you make yourself look like a different character. She actually did other people’s makeup, just for fun type stuff. Yeah, that was definitely her thing.”

Wilson’s sentences run on as he describes his daughter’s interests, painting the picture of a child with so much enthusiasm for life – a real “pistol” who ruled who her two younger siblings Godric and Valynn with an iron fist.

Wilson’s recollections of Alaya are still vivid and raw as family and friends process her sudden death on Wednesday, Jan. 26.

Alaya had become ill that afternoon, prompting Wilson to pick up his daughter, a seventh grader at Jackson’s Middle School at Parkside, around 1 p.m. that day. He arrived to find her vomiting and complaining of both an upset stomach and migraine headache symptoms.

Wilson said he personally has experienced headaches that have caused him to vomit and wondered if there was a connection. He continued to monitor Alaya at home until he had to go to work a little after 3 p.m.

Wilson dropped Alaya off at her mother Brittney Hamilton’s house, where she continued to try to keep her daughter hydrated and get her to go to sleep. Alaya continued to vomit occasionally, Wilson said, but not to the point they felt they needed to worry about taking her to the hospital.

When Wilson called Hamilton to check on Alaya’s condition around 10 p.m., he got a call back from Hamilton saying Alaya was unresponsive and that she had called 911.

The family is still awaiting results of an autopsy, Wilson said. In speaking with the medical examiner who arrived, there was brown fluid in Alaya’s airway obstructing her breathing, Wilson said.

Wilson said he was not aware of any illnesses Alaya had been experiencing in recent days or weeks, including COVID-19.

As Wilson tries to make sense of the tragedy that has taken his oldest daughter, he has been touched by the response from the Jackson community in the days that have followed, including a crowdfunding effort that has raised more than $11,000 toward funeral expenses for the family.

“I’ve never really been one to ask for help and that type of stuff, so I would have never done that, but I’m definitely grateful that (Sharon Leiss) did,” Wilson said. “It’s unfathomable how many people people I didn’t realize that she touched. The people wanting to help her and help in this situation – to me, that means more than the money.”

Leiss, whose daughter was best friends with Alaya, has helped Wilson and Hamilton with the planning of funeral services, in addition to the fundraising effort.

During a time that has turned their worlds upside down, Leiss said she wanted to be of service to the family, while also helping to highlight what a special person Alaya was.

“She was so creative, she had a sense of style,” Leiss said. “She was just kind hearted. She was an amazing big sister.

“It’s tough. It’s so unexpected. She wasn’t ill and she didn’t have health issues, so it’s not like there was any time to prepare.”

Additional support has come from the Middle School at Parkside, where students have created artful memorials to their classmate, and counselors have been available to assist students and staff having difficulties with the loss.

“Just seeing how many people that she had positive interactions with and made an impression on, I can’t even wrap my brain around it right now,” Wilson said.

Visitation for Alaya is set for 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1, at Lily Missionary Baptist Church, 1117 W G Wade Drive in Jackson. A celebration of life will follow.

Jackson community mourns unexpected death of child remembered for style, creativity
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