Written by Jessica Quarello
My best friend Ashlea (Potts) Beilis and I have been friends since 2006.
I was blessed by her friendship and as we became close, I learned a lot about disability through her stories of her relationship with her sister Danielle.
Danielle came into this earth as a 30-week preemie born with multiple physical and cognitive challenges. Disability wasn't something I had experienced in my family and Ashlea's grace always inspired me as Danielle's protective older sister. I was also incredibly impressed with her mother Terry who was such a strong and beautiful presence in Ashlea's life. I was a step outside her world at the time, but looking back today I am so thankful and appreciative that I was exposed to disability in this way based on what was to come in my life. I know it was no accident.
When we graduated college, Ashlea and I both moved to NYC and our lives were filled with girl's nights, auditions and hustling.
Terry would come visit from NC and always made it a point to include me in their time together.
One of my favorite memories was meeting them at their hotel and enjoying chocolate martinis, and the weekend when we enjoyed drinks at the Rose Museum :).
Fast forward to 2020. I had just received the birth diagnosis of Down syndrome for my daughter Adeline and I was a mess. Luckily for me, I had Ashlea and Terry, both of whom knew what it was like to live this beautiful and messy extra lucky journey.
Over the next six months as I became more and more comfortable with opening up about my experience as Adeline's mom, I reached out to Terry. I remember a phone conversation where I unloaded on her. She listened and truly understood the feelings I was so vulnerably sharing with her and she held space for me. She had been there as a young mom to her Danielle and understood completely.
Sadly, only a few months after I finally began to open up and lean on Terry, we lost her. I carry guilt even to this day for not asking her more questions. I wish I could have spent more time with her just to experience her wisdom and beautiful life perspective.
Terry Bowers Potts, 66, went to her heavenly home on April 18, 2021 and was immediately wrapped in the arms of her daughter, Danielle Renee Potts who had passed away ten years earlier on Wednesday, January 26, 2011. Terry's passing was unexpected, and the grief is so heavy. I know the loss of Terry will always be something those that were lucky enough to be touched by her will struggle with.
Terry was a devoted wife to Dan for 43 years, a loving mother to Danielle and Ashlea and was so excited to be a doting GiGi to Molly, Ashlea's daughter.
She spent years dedicated to teaching music. She was ahead of her time, always including individuals with disabilities in her classroom. She was a force and she is so missed.
Terry will always be the first Extra Lucky Mom I ever leaned on, and I know that she is with me on this journey. I talk to her a lot. I ask her for advice and guidance and there is no doubt in my mind that she is very much the reason behind our success as a community.
I am honored to dedicate Dear Mama: Stories of an Extra Lucky Life to Terry. Thank you for paving the way for those who are on their journey next. We will take it from here...
"Those we love don't go away, they walk beside us everyday. Unseen, unheard, but always near. Still loved, still missed."