Posted: Jan 28, 2013 8:38 AM by Erin Schattauer and Judy Slate
Updated: Jan 28, 2013 8:38 AM
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - One look at Laura Lee Sheehan's hospital room will tell you that she is a George Strait fan.
His picture decorated the wall behind her bed. But drawing even more attention than that was a large cardboard cut-out of the country music star that took up residence in the room and ultimately was given to staff members as a gift from the Harrison, Montana woman who, during her time there, became a much-loved member of the fourth floor at the University of Utah Health Care Burn Unit.
It was only fitting that after spending 145 days in the University of Utah Health Care Burn Unit, Laura Lee spent her last night the only way it seems she knows how to do anything - with style.
Accompanied by a boisterous group of family and friends, Laura Lee enjoyed dinner at a Mexican restaurant before heading to the George Strait concert.
Friends had bought her tickets, but they weren't wheelchair accessible, so a Salt Lake City television station put out the word that Laura Lee needed an aisle seat, prompting several people to offer their seats.
It is clear that Laura Lee is a woman who has not only captured hearts in Montana, but also in Salt Lake City and, undoubtedly, anywhere she goes.
One of those people is Teresa Thompson.
"I had good seats, so I was going to swap with her," Thompson said at dinner that night. "She touched my heart. She has an incredible story."
After dinner, the group headed over to the concert. Not only did Laura Lee get a seat, but she also got to meet George Strait. Earlier that day, she wasn't sure exactly what she would say to him. But, the next day, tired but still excited about the meeting, Laura Lee was still talking about meeting him.
"It was amazing," she said. "He seems kind of shy. He's nice. He kind of smiled when I asked him to sign my purse."
While her mom, Lisa, packed up her other belongings, Laura Lee showed the purse with a signature on it.
That day, after the concert, Laura Lee's hospital room saw a constant flow of nurses and well-wishers. Tears were shed as Laura Lee said goodbye to the people who saw her through the last 145 days of her recovery. They made no qualms about the fact that Laura Lee was a fighter, a survivor and an amazing person who never shook her determination after suffering burns over 67% of her body as well as broken bones and other injuries after a Sept. 2, 2012 house explosion in Harrison, Montana.
Bittersweet - that's the word so many used to describe the day. While she was looking forward to returning home to Montana, there is no doubt that those who cared for her and tended to her, had become friends, even like family. She would miss them.
Nurses clad in blue scrubs had their pictures taken with Laura Lee as she sat in her wheelchair. Laura Lee wrote them "thank you" notes on specially made cards with her picture on them. So many people have given so much to Laura Lee, a woman they love, a woman that has inspired them, that special cards were made.
Now, Laura Lee is at her mother's house in Bozeman, continuing her recovery.
(Follow Laura Lee's story on KBZK over the next week as we visit with Laura Lee on her last days at University of Utah Health Care and talk to her as well as the doctors and nurses, her friends and her family.)