One Special Girl Saves Many Lives

Tabitha's Wish - lg

A man named Duncan McLindon reached out to me to ask if I’d share his daughter’s story, and I am so grateful he did.  As a mom, I was deeply touched by Tabitha’s story which is both heart-wrenching and inspiring.  It is an incredible honour to know about and write to you about his special little girl.

Tabitha (“Tabbi” to her loved ones) lived with her family in Louisiana.  In April 2011, when she was 12, she went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a State ID so that she could get a checking account.

While she was at the DMV, Tabitha was asked the same questions she would’ve been asked if she were getting a drivers license, including whether or not she’d like to be registered as an organ donor.  She overheard another DMV customer answer “no” to that same question, and later asked her mother why his answer would be no.

Because Tabitha’s answer was yes.

Tabitha had always been an extremely healthy child, only occasionally getting a common cold.  But exactly one week after her appointment at the DMV, Tabitha went into a coma from a rare brain bleed.  In a matter of days, she passed away.

Her family was asked if they would like to donate her organs, but thankfully, Tabitha had already answered that question for them.  And because of her choice, she was able to save several lives and help many others.

A year after Tabitha passed away, Duncan received a gift that helped him heal – he met the little girl who received Tabitha’s lungs.  As he said, “I cannot put into words how that has helped with my hurt, other than it was like a ton of bricks off my back.”

Since his daughter’s death, Duncan has managed to press on, heartened by the fact that it was Tabitha’s Wish to donate her organs.  He knows she lives on in the others she’s saved, and in the hearts of all those who knew her.

Duncan now dedicates himself to spreading the word about the importance of organ donation.  In his words, “I would ask that you share Tabitha’s story with your kids, so if it was ever to be their “time,” they also could live on.  Please share with your friends and ask them to do the same.”

And now, with Duncan’s permission, I’d like to introduce you to Tabitha and her beautiful spirit by sharing the soulful eulogy written by her uncle, Chris McLindon:

Tabitha Anne McLindon

Everyone here today has some connection to Tabitha Anne McLindon. She is a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a friend, classmate, bandmate, fellow rider or competitor, and a neighbor. In the last week I have learned so much, that I have come to see Tabbi as something else that she is too all of us – a teacher. Tabbi teaches us when we look back at the quiet, simple way that she lived her life. If you looked at all the pictures that are gathered here today, you may have noticed something. Tabbi is smiling, or laughing, or has her teeth gritted in determination, or has a look of quiet contentment in every one of them. This is the spirit of Tabbi, and the way that she lived her life, and we are here today to celebrate that life and that spirit, and to learn from her.

The name Tabitha means gazelle, and if you can picture our Tabbi’s graceful, slender body dancing or running or playing, you know what a perfect name it is for her. After Tabbi was born, her great Aunt Margaret was fond of telling us that Tabitha was a name from the Bible. I never took the time to look it up until this week. The story of Tabitha is told in Chapter Nine of the Acts of the Apostles verses 36 through 42. I encourage each of you to read this scripture in your own time. It tells of one of the great miracles of the Bible. Our Tabitha has something to teach us about miracles too.

A few weeks ago Tabbi was taking steps to get a checking account so that she could begin to manage her own money. Because she was 12 she needed to get a State ID card in place of a driver’s license, but much of the application process is similar to a driver’s license, and she was asked if she would like to be an organ donor. On the way home she told her mother “I couldn’t imagine saying no”. On this glorious Easter Sunday there are nine families celebrating what they must consider to be miracles because someone they love has been given a new lease on life. It was a simple selfless act, but Tabbi’s life seems to have been made up of a series of simple selfless acts, and this may be the greatest lesson that she has to teach us.

Tabbi seems to have been a natural teacher. Although she was quiet and shy, she loved to engage in competition. She was not in it to score points or collect victories. Tabbi seems to have looked at competition as a way to improve herself. She always wanted her competitor to be at their best, and she was willing to work with them and to teach them what she knew to get them there.

Tabbi teaches us about humility. Unless someone else told you, you would not be likely to know that she was the Junior Miss Rodeo Queen of the Washington Parish Fair, a member of the 4-H Club or the Liverpool Riding Club. You would not know that she played electric guitar and played baritone in the Lee Road Junior High School Band, or that she was a member of the choir of this church. Tabbi would not have told you these things unless you had asked her. She did not see a need to promote herself, she only worked on continuing to make herself better.

Tabitha Anne McLindon has taught me that the spirit of a person like her lives on through all of the people that knew her. I can remember coming home from a family get-together with Tabbi and her cousins, and realizing that in talking to her and being with her that I had been affected by her spirit of optimism and enthusiasm, and that I looked at the world in a more optimistic way after being with her, so that the next time that I interacted with someone else they were affected by my sense of optimism and enthusiasm. Tabbi’s outlook on life radiated through me and was passed on to someone else. As my life continues down its path, I will be able to call up memories of Tabbi. It may be an image of her with two balloons under her shirt parading around like Dolly Parton, and I will laugh. Or it may be that thought that she was going to be standing in front of this church today singing her heart out, and I will think that I can reach a little higher and try a little harder to be the best person that I can be. The spirit of Tabbi will truly live on in the people that knew her.

My daughter Amanda, Tabbi’s cousin called me on Wednesday saying that she had just heard a song on the radio that made her think of Tabbi. The words to this song seemed to her to be a message that Tabbi would leave with us. Amanda did not know that this song “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack had been chosen to be played at this service. I would like to close by reading the first verse of this song:

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance I hope you dance

To learn more about Tabitha and the people she’s inspired, please visit her Facebook page, Tabitha’s Wish.

Organ donation is an important conversation to have with your family.  Please think about it, discuss it with your loved ones and share Duncan’s message. Thank you.

Tabitha - water fun - lg

Tabitha with owl - lg

Tabitha - horseback riding

Tabitha - garden in Memorial of Tabitha at Lee Road School - lg

Tabitha - Donate Life LA - lg

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ida Mae West-Simone February 9, 2013 at 11:15 pm

What a hero of a little girl, and a heartwarming story. The world needs more Tabithas. She has left a legacy. Beautiful story.

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christineonthebrighterside February 10, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Thank you so much, IM! Her story broke my heart and filled it at the same time, if that makes sense. Yes, she has indeed left a beautiful legacy.

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Duncan Mclindon February 10, 2013 at 8:23 am

you have touched my heart with how you have helped share the story of Tabitha’s wish THANK YOU

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christineonthebrighterside February 10, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Duncan, it was such an honour. You are doing a great thing, and I hope your message reaches far and wide.

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Dawn, of Choosing the Better Life February 11, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Oh my – broke my heart and filled it at the same time – that’s precisely how I feel. What a special, sparkling girl.Thank you to you and her family for bringing this story to us. Inspiring!

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christineonthebrighterside February 15, 2013 at 9:36 am

Thanks Dawn. Yes, indeed – a special, sparkling girl.

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Dawn, of Choosing the Better Life February 19, 2013 at 10:28 am

I’ve nominated you for a blog award – for what it’s worth. 🙂 http://choosingthebetterlife.com/2013/02/liebster-blog-award.html Keep up the good work!

Reply

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