Letters from Bella's First Exposures Mentors
A Message to Bella,
From Zoe, Her First Mentor
Bella was one of the most compassionate, loving and creative young women I've known. Our time together as mentor/mentee for her first two years with First Exposures was so rich and then we grew into friends. I was honored to witness her growth and passion for photography, but it was the light she carried and the courage she called forth to walk in this world that was awe inspiring. Her First Exposures family absorbed that light and Bella will shine forever in the hearts of all who know and love her.
A Letter from Joy,
Bella's Last FX Mentor
It's so hard for me to believe that Bella is no longer with us. I think about her every day, talk to her many times a day. It was such an honor to be her mentor & friend. The first moment I met Bella and her mom, Cindy, they embraced me like I was family. It was as if we had known each other our whole lives.
In fact, I remember the first day that Bella and I were paired up as a mentor-mentee, she was telling me how badly she wanted to get a mohawk to show off her first brain surgery scar. When Bella wanted something she would charge after it full force. Two hours into class, Bella had texted her mom asking permission for me to take her while I was pulling Erik aside to see if we could head out on this grand hair adventure. Much to our surprise everyone said yes and off we went. The end result, Bella got the mohawk she wanted and we had an incredible time.
Over the years at FX Bella and I made a lot of photos together. I have a small stack of Bella's polaroids on my desk. When I found out she had died I tore my house apart looking for them. Bella would always thank First Exposures for teaching her how to tell stories and for helping her find her visual voice. The outlet of photography was something that really helped Bella express herself when words just couldn't. One year she was speaking at our yearly fundraiser for FX, Looking Forward Giving Back and she said, "Thank you for creating a warm safe environment for me and all the mentees". Her gratitude was so genuine, however I want to say back to her, "Thank You Bella, for being my friend. For teaching me to love without fear, to embrace life with all its challenges and to find joy in the little things."
Bella was spontaneous, she loved life, dreamed big and brought her authentic self to everything. She was never afraid to say "I Love You" and you knew she always meant it. I've been looking through all our text and messenger chats, they all end with Hugs, Hearts & I Love You! When you were in Bella's world, you felt her love and knew she meant it.
If you have a Bella memory or a Bella photo to share please share it on here, it is open to everyone. The mark Bella has left on this world, in her young life, is so true. She faced so many challenges head on and did it with positivity, determination and grace. I feel that we all are truly the lucky ones knowing Bella.
Erik, FX E.D., and Bella twinning in FX hoodies