By Tamara Stanners
Published: May 11, 2018
The events that unfolded two month ago shook me to my core and will forever remain etched in my mind.
On that night of March 16, my sweet, youngest daughter Samantha, 17 years old, was horribly burned in an accident at a campfire by the river in Brackendale. We don’t know exactly what happened, but somebody threw something in the fire and it exploded, sending a fireball straight at Sam. It engulfed her head, severely burning her face and hair, and her right hand, which she thankfully covered her eyes with, or she would most certainly be blind.
What is crazy is that I was just talking to my friends that very evening on how things had been smooth and cushy. As Sam and her friends headed to the beach, I remember talking to my friends that very evening how I never had to worry about her. If you’ve ever met Sam, you know what I mean. She is kind, respectful and careful. I honestly, and naively, felt she was immune from harm because she is such a straight up great human.
She was in so much pain. When she heard my voice she started sobbing and crying out “Mama! Mama!!”.I held her hand and told her that everything was going to be alright. I had no idea if that was true. I had no idea how bad her burns were under that towel…
I had also mused about how easy my life had recently become, with only Sam still living with Lorne and me, and me working part time from home. Life seemed pretty cushy. I joked about my new addictions to yoga and napping. Maybe my words jinxed us. After Sam and her friends left our house to head to the beach, Lorne and I went out to Pepe and Gringo’s. We put our phones away while we ate.
When we picked up our phones at the end of the meal, we knew something terrible had happened. There were dozens of missed phone calls and texts from Sam’s friends, and our friends, and our daughter Alex who was at work in Vancouver. When Sam’s friends couldn’t reach us, they called her. All she knew was that Sam had been badly burned and had been taken to Squamish General Hospital.
I honestly don’t remember getting to my car and barely remember getting to the hospital as the adrenaline kicked in and I had to get to my girl.
But I do remember the smell of burned hair and skin and something noxious, like paint thinner or gasoline as we ran through the emergency room doors. And there she was.
Our beautiful baby ( I know she’s 17, but she, like all of my kids, will always be my baby ), head completely wrapped in a wet peach coloured towel that was covered in the grit and sand that she’d rolled in to put herself out.
And she was wet from throwing herself into the river to stop the burning. She was shaking. She was in so much pain. When she heard my voice she started sobbing and crying out “mama! Mama!!”.
I held her hand and told her that everything was going to be alright. I had no idea if that was true. I had no idea how bad her burns were under that towel. I was bracing myself for the worst and the very real possibility that she could’ve lost her nose and lips and ears.
I had to help her with the pain. I had to help her on the journey out of it and into healing. Nothing else mattered, except Sammy…
I felt like fainting but knew I couldn’t. I couldn’t scare Sammy anymore. She was already so terrified. I knew that regardless of what she was facing, I had to be her rock to hold to.
I had to help her with the pain. I had to help her on the journey out of it and into healing. Nothing else mattered, except Sammy. Yes, family and friends mattered but outside of that there was nothing. Sam and I had our first ambulance ride that night to get to the burn unit at VGH.
Nurses worked on her wounds through the night in the acute care unit. Then every day for nearly two weeks after that Sam had to endure the excruciating process of debridement. I held her hand through it every day and let her dig her nails into me as hard as she needed to try to quell the pain. I tried not to faint.
Some of the most incredible beauty came out of this too. The way my exceptional kids and their partners rallied around Sam, and me, was truly inspiring. I know the power of their love for Sam helped her heal. And, all of the love that radiated from our friends and community in Squamish was potent.
Sam and I talked about it all the time, especially when she was feeling down. We are so thankful that Sammy has healed so well and continues to. Miraculously, she is not disfigured. She has scars that she will carry with her forever and I gave the knowledge that she is incredibly strong.
I have always been so grateful for the gifts I’ve been given in this life, and on this Mother’s Day I know I have all I could ever ask for: The health and love of my beautiful kids