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Believing she was about to die in Camp Fire, a Calif. nurse called daughters to apologize and say goodbye


Tamara Ferguson, front, snapped this selfie in front of a Paradise, Calif., house with a group trapped by flames: nurse Chardonnay Telly, left, firefighters Matt Arness and Joe Greco, EMT Shannon Molarius and Dr. David Russell, back. (Tamara Ferguson / Facebook)

Two weeks ago, California nurse Tamara Ferguson was surrounded by fire and contemplating her own death when she called her two adult daughters to say “sorry” and goodbye.

The mother of five could see flames, feel the hot wind and knew the ambulance that evacuated patients from Feather River Hospital in Paradise, Calif., shortly ahead of hers already was burning.

Ferguson described the harrowing scene and her group’s incredible escape in a Facebook post on Nov. 9.

She posted again Thursday, wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and explaining why she felt that urge to apologize.

“My close friends, children and family know why, and I’m ready to share that (now), not for sympathy but for strength to others facing similar situations,” Ferguson wrote in her Thanksgiving post.

She described years of living in an abusive relationship and how she felt regret for all the times she wasn’t the positive, doting mom she always wanted to be.

Ferguson said all those emotions washed over her as she dialed her daughters Clarissa, 24, and Savannah, 22, for what she thought would be their last, tearful conversations.

She said her ambulance had only driven about a mile during the initial evacuation Nov. 8 when they heard over the radio the ambulance in front of theirs was swallowed by flames.

“We turned down a road into a driveway and stopped,” she wrote. “I looked around as fire surrounded us. Transformers were blowing up and the winds were sooo fierce.”

Ferguson, 42, called her kids to say “how very much” she loved them and how “sorry” she was “for anyway that I let them down, or made mistakes,” she wrote.

Posted by Tamara Ferguson on Sunday, May 27, 2018

On Thursday, she explained how she finally felt the strength to share her painful past after surviving the fire and speaking to the Los Angeles Times about her urge to apologize.

“My close friends, children and family know why, and I’m ready to share that (now), not for sympathy but for strength to others facing similar situations,” Ferguson wrote.

“To put it simple I was in an abusive relationship for years. I didn’t want to fail. I endured years of being called names no woman should ever be called. No words any children should hear spoken about or to their mother. I went from a person who believed I could do anything I set my mind to ...someone who believed the actions and words brought upon me were ‘my fault,’” she wrote.

“I made excuses. I tried to do better. I told my kids it would get better didn’t,” she wrote. “They never knew walking into that door if it was a good day or bad day ...would I be happy and laughing ...or crying and withdrawn?”

Ferguson said it took a long time to regain her sense of self-worth, but she did it.

She graduated nursing school with honors and a 2-month-old baby at age 37, she wrote.

She pursued her lifelong dream of becoming a labor and delivery nurse and started a new relationship with a partner who respected her.

“I met a man who showed me what love and healthy is, that you can disagree, even argue, or be mad at each other, but you don’t have to be belittled and reduced to tears and called names,” she wrote. “You can talk about things and forgive and move forward.”

Ferguson said she was embarrassed to share her story before but now hopes it will help others.

“No matter what you think it is T your fault,” she wrote. “Trust me. It’s never too late and you’re never stuck so far that you can’t find yourself and pursue your dreams and happiness.”

“This is how I live,” she ended her post, quoting the LA Times article.