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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remembering Tiffanie

Tonight is the 20th anniversary of Tiffanie Chumita's death.

She was an attractive, outgoing young woman, who died decades before her time.

She was my friend.  A twenty year old with a kind heart, who was nice enough to take the time to humor a fat, socially awkward teenager, at a time when most of his so-called "friends" ignored him.

On November 23rd, 1991, I sat alone at a wedding reception, watching the doors.  Waiting for Tiffanie to walk in.  She never did.

She died that night from injuries that she sustained in a traffic accident.  Essentially, she bled to death.  And, as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, she was not allowed to accept a blood transfusion.  Would a transfusion have saved her life?  It's hard to say.  But it would have at least given her a chance.

Say what you will about religious freedoms, the First Amendment, what have you.  A religious organization should not have the right to force you to become a martyr for their cause.

Witness publications say that, when it comes to the issue of blood transfusions, it is a "conscience matter", meaning, it is up to the individual to make up his or her own mind based upon what they believe is right.  They don't tell you that if you accept a blood transfusion, even if it is the only means to save your life, you become the pariah of the congregation.  Often times, you're disfellowshipped (kicked out of the church), and shunned by your family and friends.

The organization of Jehovah's Witnesses force their policies upon their followers, usually in the form of bullying and intimidation.

If privately given the chance, would Tiffanie have chosen to save her own life on that night.  We will never know.  She was never given the opportunity to do so.  Her parents, Alex and Connie (Alex was an elder in the local congregation at the time), along with other members of the body of elders of the Park West congregation, were in her room with her.  Speaking for myself, I hold them accountable for her death.  Tiffanie, like thousands of other Witnesses, was browbeaten into making her decision.  She had no choice but to succumb to peer pressure.

My last memory of Tiffanie is somewhat ironic.  We spent the afternoon together at the State Fair, after bumping into each other.  As we rode "The Zipper", Alphaville's 'Forever Young' was playing in the background.  I still see her face every time I hear that song.

I miss you, Tiffanie.

*If you have lost a friend or a loved one from their refusal to accept a blood transfusion, please visit Witnesses In Memoriam.  Let your voice be heard regarding their needless death.


Anonymous said...

She'll actually died in the early morning hours of November 10. The accident happened with her friend Jennifer on I-17 on November 9. I know this because I used to send her parents a card every single year, but since I left the religion, I stopped. It is by total chance I came across your blog, as I was googling something about Jay-Z and decided to read other things you'd written. You have a great blog.

Nicholai Black said...

I had always thought that I was off by a few days. Over the years, I had purposely tried to forget a lot about that time. I had three friends or acquaintances that died in a matter of two weeks. All directly, or indirectly, because they didn't accept a blood transfusion. It was a rough month for anyone in the area. I'm sure you remember. If you sent Paul and Connie a card every year, you all must have been close. I wonder if I know you in real life. I'm glad to see that you got out. There are so many of my childhood friends that I wish would have had your courage.

Nicholai Black said...


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