Linda Birtish literally gave herself away. Linda was an outstanding teacher who felt that if she had the time, she would like to create great art and poetry. When she was 28, however, she began to get severe headaches. Her doctors discovered that she had an enormous brain tumor. They told her that her chances of surviving an operation were about 2 percent. Therefore, rather than operate immediately, they chose to wait for six months.
She knew she had great artistry in her. So during those six months she wrote and drew feverishly. All of her poetry, except one piece, was published in magazines. All of her art, except one piece, was shown and sold at some of the leading galleries.
At the end of six months, she had the operation. The night before the operation, she decided to literally give herself away. In case of her death, she wrote a “will,” in which she donated all of her body parts to those who needed them more than she would.
Unfortunately, Linda’s operation was fatal. Subsequently, her eyes went to an eye bank in Bethesda, Maryland, and from there to a recipient in South Carolina. A young man, age 28, went from darkness to sight. That young man was so profoundly grateful that he wrote to the eye bank thanking them for existing. It was only the second “thank you” that the eye bank had received after giving out in excess of 30,000 eyes!
Furthermore, he said he wanted to thank the parents of the donor. They must indeed be magnificent folks to have a child who would give away her eyes. He was given the name of the Birtish family and he decided to fly to see them on Staten Island. He arrived unannounced and rang the doorbell. After hearing his introduction, Mrs. Birtish reached out and embraced him. She said, “Young man, if you’ve got nowhere to go, my husband and I would love for you to spend your weekend with us.”
He stayed, and as he was looking around Linda’s room, he saw that she’d read Plato. He’d read Plato in Braille. She’d read Hegel. He’d read Hegel in Braille. The next morning Mrs. Birtish was looking at him and said, “You know, I’m sure I’ve seen you somewhere before, but I don’t know where.”
All of a sudden she remembered. She ran upstairs and pulled out the last picture Linda had ever drawn. It was a portrait of her ideal man. The picture was virtually identical to this young man who had received Linda’s eyes. Then her mother read the last poem Linda had written on her deathbed. It read:
Two hearts passing in the night
falling in love never able to gain each other’s sight.