Over the years I have heard stories about how a mother sensed when something was wrong with their child. I wondered how that was even possible. On June 12, 2008 I became one of those mothers.
At that time I was sitting at home and got this feeling that something bad had happened to one of my children. I checked in on my 8-year-old daughter who was taking a nap and then proceeded to call my 28-year-old son, Fredo, who told me that he was okay. After not getting an answer when I called my 24-year-old son C.J. I sat on my bed and tried to shake my feeling, but couldn’t.
An hour later Fredo called me back and said he thought something bad had happened to C.J. He told me that C.J. sent him some pictures through his cell phone; that Fredo thought he had been in a car accident.
As a single parent I had been pretty lucky up to that point. Aside from a couple of scrapes and broken bones, nothing really bad had ever happened to my kids. I couldn’t believe anything would happen now so I told Fredo not to worry about it because his brother was probably playing a joke on him which wouldn’t had been the first time.
After hanging up with Fredo, I couldn’t shake how upset he was. My oldest son was usually a pretty cool customer and totally unflappable. A minute later he sent me the photos he had received and I got this really sick feeling in my stomach.
Suddenly my phone rang again. It was C.J.’s paternal grandmother Jean Furcron. C.J. had been in a car accident and they were at Underwood Hospital in Woodbury, NJ. C.J. didn’t want to call me because he didn’t want to upset me. Like being in a car accident wasn’t something I wouldn’t notice.
Around 2 P.M. C.J. was driving down Route 130 in Brooklawn, New Jersey in a hurry to get back to his job at a pizza place where he worked as a delivery guy.
As he continued down the busy highway, a guy appeared in the lane next to him. Every time C.J. attempted to get ahead of him in order to change lanes, the guy would speed up. This went on for awhile.
Finally my son was able to get in front of him, but had to step on his brakes in order to make the turn. Due to the slickness of the road, his tires started to skid and the wheel turned forcing the car to hit the curb which was six to eight inches high.
After he hit the curb, the airbags deployed and C.J. couldn’t see anything. He also told me that due to the speed of the car, he had become disoriented.
There were two metal poles, about four inches high, that were cemented into the ground and painted neon yellow. He hit both poles and one pole was pulled out of the ground causing C.J.’s steering column to crack. The front of his car ended up being suspended in the air by the remaining pole.
Eventually C.J. was able to crawl out through the passenger’s door and walked around as people ran to his aid. He did make it back to work. Kinda sorta. His boss came running over.
Eventually an ambulance came to take him to the hospital, but they transferred him to a trauma unit at Cooper Hospital in Camden, NJ where he was diagnosed with a fractured vertebrae and had to wear a very large brace for several months after that.
I called Fredo and told him the story. My heart broke even more when I heard him crying.
I would like to think that the accident was a result of recklessness or risk-taking behavior that’s common in young adults, but in C.J.’s case it was probably more than that; it was the result of feeling frustrated and hopeless about the downward turn his life had taken recently.
A year or two before the accident my son was experiencing a sense of euphoria. He had a job that gave him financial independence, his first apartment, and a serious relationship with a girl he was really in love with. He had taken the second job delivering pizzas on the weekend to make a little extra money.
In the beginning of 2008 everything changed. C.J. became one of the first casualties of the recession and lost his main source of income. His girlfriend abruptly ended their relationship and, at the time of the accident, he was behind on his rent. He was now in the hospital angry and frustrated. His car was totaled, he was in pain, about to become homeless, and had no job. The more his grandparents tried to comfort him, the more upset he got.
After spending a couple of months recuperating at his grandparent’s house, C.J. moved in with Fredo and we went to work as a family to help him get back on his feet.
After awhile C.J. moved in with me because he needed more emotional support and discipline than Fredo could give him. It was a struggle for both of us. He was very angry.
C.J. eventually would go on to become an EMT which I believe has a direct correlation to his accident and the paramedics who came to his aid.
The accident also brought us closer. I could have lost him, but didn’t. I’m thankful every day that he was able to walk away from an accident that could have killed him and by the medical personnel’s estimation it should have killed him.
C.J. has also kept the back brace even though it sits on top of storage boxes. Every time I go to get something I see the brace which is a reminder of that day and taught me to have appreciation for the good fortune I have accumulated with my children.
So, yes, I am one of those mothers who can feel when their child is in distress even when it’s across state lines.