It’s been one year since her fiancé, Sean Bell, was killed in a hail of 50 police bullets on their wedding day. Nicole Paultre Bell says life has never been the same. Here Bell, 23, talks to Essence.com about how she helps her young daughters remember their father, the upcoming trial on February 4, and what motivates her to stay strong.
Essence.com: Why was it important for you to commemorate this anniversary of Sean’s death publicly?
Nicole Paultre Bell: That day, November 25 last year, that was the day my life changed completely. Nothing’s the same without Sean, and now I’m raising my daughters on my own. It’s been a year, and I want to let it be known that we’re going to keep his story out there to make sure that no one forgets.
Essence.com: How are the girls doing?
Bell: Jada is 4, and she misses her father. My daughter Jordyn is only 1. She’ll never know him personally, and it hurts that she’ll only know him from videos and pictures. But we have tons of pictures around the house and videos that we go through all the time. She knows his face, and she points to the pictures and says “Daddy.”
Essence.com: So you don’t find it painful or difficult to talk about Sean with them?
Bell: Not at all. Jada’s very young, so it’s important that I do keep Sean in her memory. I tell her, "Just because you don’t see your father doesn’t mean you don’t have a father. You’ll always have a father; you just can’t see him. He’s watching us from heaven."
Essence.com: Do you think about him all the time?
Bell: Every day is still sort of like that morning. I think about it every day. I get emotional every day, but I’m doing the best I can to get through it. I miss him still like it just happened yesterday. This should never have happened. We’re supposed to be here tonight eating dinner together, but we’re not.
Essence.com: How have you been able to get through the past year?
Bell: I have two main jobs. One is raising my children and being a mother. That keeps me busy. But I’m also going to be at every court appearance and everywhere I need to be. Just recently I started a neighborhood association in my community, the Rockaway Beachside Neighborhood Association, to give back. It’s basically to better the community; little things such as street lighting that needs to be fixed and community things for the kids such as block parties. I’m just getting started now, and it’s my way of saying thank you and I’m here to help.
Essence.com: What are your thoughts on the upcoming trial for the officers indicted in Sean’s death?
Bell: The main focus is justice, and making sure Sean’s death wasn’t in vain and that this doesn’t happen to anyone else. There’s little that can comfort me at this time. We can’t bring Sean back. But I want justice by having the officers held accountable.
Essence.com: Have you spoken to any of the officers who shot at Sean?
Bell: No, they have never requested or asked to speak with us, nor have they offered any condolences.
Essence.com: How has this experience changed you?
Bell: It’s really hard to describe, but it makes you look at the value of life. It helped me mature and raise my daughters. One day I want them to look back and say, "My mother was a strong woman, and when I grow up I want to be that way." I know that it would upset Sean so much to see me down and upset. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m home it gets very emotional, but I know Sean would want something better, something different for me. So I remind myself of that too.
If you would like to send a letter of condolence, a gift or monetary donation, please send to:
Nicole Paultre Bell
PO Box 900537
Far Rockaway, NY 11690