The NY Daily News reported yesterday of the tragic loss of 11-year-old “Lion King” star Shannon Tavarez. Shannon had been in an epic struggle with leukemia and finally lost her battle after complications from an August umbilical-cord transplant which medical doctors thought could save her life. Shannon played the part of Young Nala in the popular Broadway production “The Lion King.” She played four shows a week during her short career with her official debut in September 2009. Thousands around the country have signed a petition on her website Match Shannon to become bone marrow donors for a campaign in her honor.
This is such a tragic loss of a talented young star who had a bright future ahead. I would like to spend some time talking directly to her mother, Odney Brown. I would implore you, as her mother, to celebrate her success and realize your daughter had the time of her life during her short but spectacular Broadway career. The worst nightmare for a mother, regardless of age and circumstance, is to see her child pass in such an unfortunate way. Odney, be proud of your daughter, relish the good-times and hold them true to your heart, as they will be with you forever.
One way to help ease the pain and remember the good times is to gather around with friends and family and share the experiences you had with Shannon. Go around the room and spend some time talking about things she did that made you laugh, something that made you smile, or something that touched your heart. Keep these positive memories fresh and take time each month to simply sit in a quiet and peaceful setting and daydream about those wonderful times. Realize she is in a better place and she’s patiently waiting for you on the other-side.
The worst thing you can do is succumb to your emotions and lose sight of the big picture. She has passed on, but use your inner-strength to remain positive and not dwell on your heartbreaking loss. Ask yourself one question: Would she want you to be upset and depressed? No, she would want you to continue your life and cherish the memories you had together. Life is a difficult beast, one with many ups and downs; it’s your job to continue on and remain strong so you can focus on the accomplishments and not the loss of your beautiful daughter. She will always be watching you from the other side; it’s your turn to make her proud.
Leo Standora, Young ‘Lion King’ star Shannon Tavarez, 11, loses fight with leukemia, NY Daily News
Shannon Tavarez, Help Me Live My Dream, Match Shannon