Jenny Knaak: Missing Miss Bee
Sunday In The Park
June 30, 2017
You taught me how to make wrap bracelets, and you never talked down to me or treated me like I was dumb, even though there were decades separating us.
You made me laugh with your surprising mix of sweetness and mischief. You always had a twinkle in your eye. Your feisty spirit was barely tethered to your tiny, wrecked body. I'm sorry I didn't have more time with you. I'm more sorry you didn't have more time here.
Your third battle with cancer was your body's undoing and this Sunday marks three years since we had to say goodbye. It still hurts.
Your mom and I were friends first – drinking wine at dinner parties and giggling during chick flicks. But you and I had a bond none of our family or friends shared: jewelry. We both liked to wear sparkly things, but what we really loved was to make them.
There were more people at your memorial than I had at my wedding. Hundreds of people wanted to show your family you had touched their lives
— and to say goodbye.
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We enjoyed gifting things to our friends and loved ones, but the true excitement came from the creation. Gathering the supplies, conceptualizing the finished product, experimenting with the trial and error process until the imagined piece was finished.
We went to bead stores and looked online, and spent hours at the Gem Faire. Held in an expo center, the fair had rows upon rows of everything we could imagine: wood and stones and Swarovski crystals and metal and fossils and pearls and even a few mysteries.
We would find something intriguing, do mental inventories of things we had at home, on hand, and try to figure out what else we might need. Sometimes something was just too beautiful to not buy, even when we didn't know what we would do with it.
The last few months you had, you spent most of your time at home. You still attended school, but online. You were just too tired and fragile to spend much time out. So, I came over to your house and we created. We made a necklace for your mom, and you taught me how to construct the wrap bracelet. You wanted help designing something to match your Dinner-in-Paris dress, and I was only too happy to assist.
Your last big adventure was that dinner; a Go-Fund-Me account was set up to help you and your family make that dream come true, and it did. Almost two weeks in the City of Lights, and I'm sure it never sparkled brighter than when you were there.
The last time I saw you was just after le voyage. You were wearing a shirt you'd bought there; it was tres chic, adorned with the Eiffel Tower in black sequins.
Surprisingly, you wanted to see the midnight premier of "The Fault In Our Stars." Since the film was about two young people with terminal cancer, I thought it might be a little too close to home for you and your mom and our other friends. The truth is, we all knew you had precious time left, and pretty much anything you wished for, you were granted. And looking back, I think you wanted to see the film exactly because it was so close to your own life. And, I think you really needed the rest of us to prepare for what was next.
That night was just two weeks before your body finally quit. It wasn't your fierce will that gave up. You fought until every ounce of energy had left your flesh. Knowing it was coming didn't make it any less painful to process. I knew when the phone rang it was "The Call." And I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me.
There were more people at your memorial than I had at my wedding. Hundreds of people wanted to show your family you had touched their lives — and to say goodbye. Your custom casket was so you — turquoise with snow-leopard-print lining — it would have made me smile if I hadn't been so sad to see you in it. You were wearing your fabulous couture dress with the necklace we had made together — a fashionista to the end.
I think of you all the time — whenever I see something sparkling and turquoise, or the things you made me that live in my jewelry box when I'm not wearing them. And though it makes me sad, I end up smiling, because you had that effect on me. On everyone.
You were a shooting star: dazzling and rare and gone too soon.
Thank you Bailey, for the lessons you taught me. And though I am grateful to know how to string a wrap bracelet, I really mean the bigger-picture stuff.
Life is brief. Love runs deep. Joy is stronger than grief.
Sometimes I visit the cemetery and leave something on your turquoise-vase and leopard-print-engraved headstone. A floral garland for May Day. Or a big B made of roses on your birthday. Sometimes just some daisies. But I think this time, it will be peonies and irises, because you had loved them in Paris. And I think I'll take them this Sunday, in the Park…
Jenny Knaak, guest columnist, is the daughter of Teri Orr, the customary author of Sunday in The Park.
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