Life is precious: My sister’s story

By Jared Talbot |

It all started with a call, which changed the course of my summer as well as my life. At 12:30 a.m. on July 9 I got a call from my sister’s boyfriend Tyler. He told me that there had been an accident involving my sister and a fire.

Like anybody else, I froze up. I didn’t know what to do but right away I asked, “what do you mean?” He simply responded that he was trying to reach my parents to inform them that she had fallen into a fire and that they were heading up to Boston right away. I talked to her for just a few seconds but she was crying too hard to understand and the call ended. I grabbed my friend right away and asked him to drive me home so I could wake up my parents.

I got to my house and the door were locked, lights off and my family was asleep. I panicked and knocked on my parents’ bedroom window and rang the doorbell until they both came to the door.  I told them that they need to call Tyler right away because Sierra had been involved in an accident. Obviously, my mother began to freak out and asked me what kind of accident when I informed her that she had fallen in a fire but I didn’t have too many details beyond that.

My parents and I rushed up to Boston at 1:00 a.m. and got there in the middle of the night. We found her in the emergency room and they were prepping her to get moved up to the Intensive Care Unit. Once they moved her up there, my parents and I found a waiting room with Tyler to at least sleep for a couple hours. None of us slept much at all.

We had found out that while Sierra was enjoying a night with her boyfriend and her friends, she had tripped while holding a hose and walking near the fire and had fallen backwards into it. She had been having a fun night celebrating finding a new apartment.

The next two weeks were quite easily the craziest and biggest whirlwind of my life but those first few days were the worst. We had gone home for one night the next day while Tyler stayed up at the hospital but went right back as soon as we could.

For two weeks straight, my mother stayed by my sister’s side except for maybe two nights. She wasn’t eating or sleeping well at all. Everybody tried to tell her to get some rest or go home and sleep for a night or two but there was clearly something everybody was forgetting: she’s a mother. Like any mother would, she was going to stay by her side.  Her boyfriend was doing everything he could for her as well. We all were.

The first few days were the most important days because she was held in the ICU. Skin is the biggest organ on your body. This meant that the biggest organ on her body was 35 percent damaged and what many people don’t understand is that when one organ is damaged, others tend to follow. This is what the doctors were afraid of and why they put her in the ICU.

She couldn’t stop talking about the pain. I hadn’t known much about burns but the main thing that I had learned was that it was known as one of, if not the most painful of all injuries. She had told us that no amount of drugs could stop this excruciating pain.

She went through some surgery a couple days after the event and upon talking to the surgeon we were given an idea of where she was headed. The doctor had told us that he had thought that all the burns were second  to third degree burns and that she was going to make a faster recovery than we had previously thought. Of course, our family was completely relieved. We thought the panic was over.

A couple days go by as she rests in her new room only to find out that she was going to need fully detailed skin transplants because almost all her burns had turned into third degree burns. We weren’t at the other end yet. She got through this time though and before we knew it, she had finally started the healing process. By this point though she had spent over a week in the hospital and still had another week to go, but this time we could relax.

All of this happened within a week-long span but something amazing happened at the same time. Hundreds upon thousands of people from our community rallied behind my sister’s cause. I got constant messages and phone calls to the point that honestly, I don’t even remember them all. My mother had literally hundreds of people on her Facebook timeline praying for Sierra’s cause. Every member of my family had people messaging, commenting, calling and reaching out and if it weren’t for them, things would have been a lot worse.

That was just the beginning. My brother and I created a GoFundMe page for my sister to take care of her medical expenses and other expenses caused by the accident. I had figured that she would miss an extended period of time at work as well so I set a goal to meet. I figured within the time that she was in the hospital that we could meet the goal and I could surprise her. I was wrong.

Within two days the goal had been met and then some. Within a week. the goal had doubled as people just kept donating. It got 1,000 shares on Facebook and it was trending on the internet. It wouldn’t stop and I remember looking at the constant waves of donations and having to go outside for a minute. Tears came to my eyes because I learned a valuable lesson–one that can’t be taught in a classroom or in a textbook. I learned that even in the worst of times, the good in people comes through.

A week into my sister’s injury I tried to escape reality and go to my friend’s house for a bit. A dozen friends or so had all gone over to hangout and they had all known what was going on with my family and my sister. They were extremely respectful and let me bring it up to them because they could tell that, more than anything, I needed a way to escape. I went outside with two of my closer friends. Two girls that could tell I was not myself. It was in this moment that I truly broke down. I had been keeping so much in for the sake of my family that I had to let it out. They, along with my other friends, family and girlfriend helped me through one of the hardest times in my life and my friend Nikki gave me a hug and said something I will never forget.

She simply said, “It is okay to not be okay.” I had spent so much time trying to be strong, trying to be brave for my family and for my sister that I forgot to take care of myself. I needed to hear that. She knew in my eyes that I needed it not only because she was my friend but because she had lost her brother in a accident years before and this entire situation related to her all too well. I’ll always be thankful for those words, for my friends and that night that I tried to escape because it taught me that I will never be able to truly escape but that there is nothing wrong with that.

I learned a million lessons through this experience but the most important one was simple. It is that life is a blessing. It can end at any moment and we cant take for granted a single day of living. I think at the end of the day I am just thankful. We all have moments in our lives where we wonder how many people truly care about us. We wonder who loves us and who wants to be a part of our lives. Shortly before my sister experienced all this, I doubted this. I could not have been more wrong to do so. I have a large group of family that cares. Parents that I will always be proud of. A beautiful girlfriend that has been there for me for years now. So many friends that have been there and will hopefully never stop doing so. So many of us have wonderful people in our lives and although it is difficult for us to realize this, it is true.

To the thousands of people who reached out this past July when this accident happened, I want to say thank you. Thank you for the messages, the comments, the calls and the shares. Thank you for the flowers, the gifts and the donations. Thank you for helping me realize that even when things seem down and the entire world seems a little darker, it’s not as bad as it seems. Thank you to the nurses and doctors that tended to my sister every step of the way. Thank you to the therapists that help her now as she deals with the mental effects. Thank you to every person who helped with this situation along the way.

My sister is doing amazing. She is back to working full time, she has a new puppy named Lucy and she is happily in her new apartment with her boyfriend. She has made a full recovery and although she has new scars that does not scare her away from living her life to the absolute fullest. As she put it, “my scars don’t define me, my experiences do.”

Life is a beautiful thing. Anything can happen to anybody at any given moment. This is enough reason to live every moment like it is your last. Live, laugh and love more with the people you care about. At any given moment, you might lose them.

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