As a mother, I try to put myself in other mothers’ shoes, to imagine what they may be dealing with, things seen and unseen.
As a journalist, I get more than my fair share of opportunities to engage with mothers in the midst of tragedy. And while these experiences can be sad and disturbing, I almost always learn something about the lioness deep down inside of every mother who has dealt with a child in crisis.
On Oct. 28, Jean Quartey was a patient at WakeMed dealing with a serious heart condition when she got the worst news a mother could ever receive: Your son has been in a serious accident. Gently, the hospital staff told her that her 32-year-old son, Anesto Newell, was in the emergency room after being injured taking down a ride at the N.C. State Fairgrounds. At first, her doctors urged her not to go downstairs due to the fragility of her health, but she was determined.
“My child looked like he was on his death bed,” Jean told me as she recalled seeing her son for the first time following the accident. “You could see the blood soaking through the sheets underneath.”
Jean’s concerns for her own health vanished as she focused on helping her son survive and begin to recover from a crushed pelvis and leg among other injuries. After getting the green light from doctors, she parked her wheelchair and portable oxygen tank in her son’s hospital room by his bedside.
“It’s been hard, I mean real hard,” Jean ruminated when I visited her and her son at WakeMed last week.
She explained that it had been hard for many reasons. Hard because her son contributed to the family income and was no longer able to work, hard because she didn’t know if her son would ever walk again, hard because she couldn’t take away her son’s pain which he describes as “24-7.”
“As a mother you always hope for the best for your children,” Jean said as she looked at her son lying a few feet from her in his hospital be covered by a soft green blanket she had brought him from home.
Jean had hoped her son would be able to pursue his dream of having a music career, now she simply hopes he will be able to get around, to be independent, to take care of himself even if that involves using a wheelchair.
Jean is not certain sure what her son’s future holds, but one thing she is certain about, she will be right there by his side as it unfolds.
“This is a life-changing situation for him. My only thing is it's in God's hands. God got him.”
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.