Becca’s Celebration of Life, June 17th 2018
One would marvel at such a beautiful day in Shady Side, Maryland. With the sun shining brightly, the ospreys calling in the trees, and the green grass warm to the touch, anyone would feel at home. As a place of tranquility and solitude, this was Becca’s home.
The day began with a quiet peace over the house. Tina still lives here, and Becca lived here for most of her life. Some folks were up. Tina was about, preparing tables and chairs, checking on the roasted pig. Checking the details as usual. Family friends were tending to every preparation: Natalie was cleaning the kitchen, Kara was setting up the deck, and Fran was mounting pictures throughout the house. Eddy moved about intently, helping in any way he could. Having pressure washed the house and performed numerous tasks the day before, he settled into a solemn period of reflection.
The morning continued to show signs of hustle. Friends of Becca started to show: Carly and Autumn, Chris, Aaron, Corey, Christian… Christina, Sergio, more and more. They were all excited to make this special day was wonderful as possible. A golf cart, the same blue as Becca’s Honda, was brought in by Sergio. Becca loved to ride the golf carts around the neighborhood as a kid, so it was only fitting to have one here in Snug Harbor again. Utensils and food was moved to the deck tables. Chairs were set up and arranged. The pictures continued to populate the walls, transforming Tina’s house into an art gallery that would compete with the finest artistic displays.
Looking around the house, as the pictures came up, one couldn’t help but feel joy and sadness at the same time. The rooms were magical. Prints brought in by friends, framed pieces Fran diligently crafted, small pictures strewn on shelves and tables. The question became, “what if we did this three weeks ago? What if we had an art gallery, all this work. An expose on Europe, a chance to reveal to everyone the beauty that Becca captured in Iceland, Milan, Portugal. June second, all invited!” Joy in seeing this raw talent. Sadness in realizing no more new shots. If only we could go back in time.
Noon came and went, and these rooms filled to the door frames. Nicole painted a beautiful tree of life, and everyone put their thumbprint in the branches, colorful ink making leaves pop up from the canvas. Bracelets, stickers, buttons, memorabilia passed out to everyone. People started talking. Conversations turned to days before: “remember that one explore,” “she was amazing, look at this piece,” “We were going to hit this location…” Every picture was a reminder of what we lost in Becca’s passing.
Pictures throughout the house showed Becca’s true colors. She was in some frames, not in others. Where she could be seen, she had a camera, a jacket, those cheap boots. Playing on the wreckage, her playful persona shines. Taking a shot on a sunset beach, her talent in action. Watching an Icelandic waterfall, she stood in awe. What was she thinking? Was she impressed? Was she solemn? Was she grateful to be there? Or maybe she wanted to just jump in the water. That was Becca. But we won’t know, she isn’t physically here to point, explain, laugh, and cry over these works. She is elsewhere, watching us enjoy her gallery.
The roasted pig was ready! Burgers and hot dogs, potato and macaroni salads, chips and drinks. Everyone feasted in the sunlit backyard. Chris setup music and kept the joy alive. People talked, hugged each other. Some hadn’t seen each other in years, and as usual, Becca brought them back together. Even rough patches were set aside and hatchets buried; this is Becca’s day, a celebration! Life is short, there’s no time to be mad. “Make the most of where we are, don’t judge, love each other,” is what Becca would demand. That’s what everyone did.
Eric compiled a video of Becca’s life, and played it on the TV. Tina, Fran and Ben were called into the living room to watch, and friends gathered around. As the video began, the crowd grew. Pictures of Becca with friends, at her work. Previous boyfriends watched and hugged each other. As pictures of Becca with family appeared, tears fell. Clips of her at bandos made us laugh and think deeply. Footage of Fran getting her back, punching her in the shoulder at the Volkswagen scrapyard, reminded us of her favorite game. At least someone finally punched her back, after years of her seeing the Volkswagen bugs before we did. She was more concerned with wasp stings than scrappers and homeless people! She dangled her feet over the edge of a skyscraper. She balanced on the top of a rickety roller coaster. She took risks. She loved danger. She lived.
The photographs on the walls continued to amaze everyone. Playing on top of airplane wreckage in Iceland, she looked playful, skipping around. The image reminded people, who knew Becca all her life, what she was like as a little girl. Skipping, playing, laughing. That smile! You couldn’t help but love her, even if she made you mad. She was beautiful.
A photograph above the television, Becca at the beach, camera in hand. The same image was used for the “Bword lives on” stickers. She took time and effort for each shot. She took thousands of shots. She never let the right angle get away, or the perfect ray of sunshine escape… she captured it all. Seeing images of her, alongside images she captured, gave perspective to the entire gallery. Not only was she capturing and creating art; she was the art. She was a masterpiece.
Anyone who knew Becca well loved to see pictures of her tattoos. Even seeing a few in the photos, one would remember the rest… speed circuit, her first tattoo. “1987” with wings on her chest. The zombie on her thigh, the black widow, the Mexican skulls, “Red Rum…” Of course her trademark tattoo, 11:11. When 11:11 came and went this day, everyone made the same wish… we wish Becca was back. We wish this never happened. We wish, wherever she is watching us, she knows we all love her so much. We miss her so much. Life just won’t be the same.
The art around the house was spectacular, and words can’t truly capture the feelings of the day. To be expected, the camera was the ultimate medium to capture the gathering, and photographers who traveled miles to be here, took hundreds of pictures. Each snap of a shutter was another tribute to our Becca.
Everyone had their fill of food. Drinks were passed around. Groups gathered and laughed, sharing stories of Becca. Some started to walk down to the water, that same place Becca would play. She loved to walk down to the water. We thought we’d join her one last time this evening.
At the dock, lanterns were passed around. So many people were there, you’d think the pier would topple over! Lanterns were lit, the wind blew gently, and as we released them, we were beginning the process of moving on… of finding peace. We have to let Becca go. We know we love her. We know she loves us. She’s looking down on us, smiling, surely. So, one by one, patiently filling the burning lanterns with heat, watching some sink and some fly away, we released the lanterns. We have to accept the truth. We have to continue living. We have to let go, and instead, pleasantly remember her for who she was: fun, charismatic, and charming. Rough, tough, and strong. Friendly, laughing, and loving. She was all this and more. She was our best friend. Our lover. Our daughter, our sister. Our bartender, photographer, model. Our smile on a dark day, a hug when we needed one. She was our blessing from above. She was… our Becca.