Edina Bell knows loss. But she also knows joy, and she focuses on the latter.
Bell is graduating this spring from Rogers High School, a school she is very proud of, after a year that could have easily derailed a young woman. Actually, she’s had several years like that in her 17 years of life.
Her father has been absent from the family for many years. After he left, she and her mother, Inez Bell, and her younger brother, Brian, moved in with her godmother, Lisa Ropp, and her husband, Frank. Her mother and “Aunt Lisa” ran a day care at the home, and Frank became a father figure with whom Bell was close.
When Bell was in middle school, Frank died. Then the infant son of one of her older brothers died of SIDS. Another woman, Kyra Walston – who had befriended her and who helped comfort her when Frank died – died last year at age 30.
And this past year, during Bell’s senior year at Rogers, her own mother died suddenly of a heart attack.
“I don’t know if you ever get a handle or a perspective on death,” Bell said. “Sometimes you just have to let it suck, let it be awful, but then you get to know there’s a reason somehow. I’ve gotten to a point where I know that though they may not be here, I believe they’re watching over me.”
A blessing she acknowledges is that she and Brian have been able to remain living with Lisa Ropp. Another blessing, another force in helping Bell develop a positive attitude, she said, is involvement with the youth fellowship at North Addison Baptist Church. “I give strength back to God.”
During her sophomore year, Bell wasn’t involved with much at school other than attending classes, but she began to realize how much she was missing out on. “You only get to do high school once, so you should do everything you can,” she said. “You should get involved.”
And she has. In addition to taking five advanced placement classes this year, she is a part of ASB leadership, which runs such big events as homecoming, senior breakfast and prom. She is yearbook story editor and manager of the football team; she was a varsity cheerleader in her junior year. She was assistant director of Rogers’ production of “Footloose” and organized and ran the International Club at school. She and friends drove to Tacoma to cheer on the basketball team at state. If there’s a way to be a booster and supporter of her school, sign Edina Bell up for it.
“I want people to know that Rogers is a good school and that good kids come out of this school,” she said.
She really does like being upbeat. “I’m pretty sure the entire world does not need to be burdened with my problems,” she said. And so, if she has a bad morning at home or in a particular class, “I just restart my day with the next thing. When I walk into the next class or come back home or whatever the next thing is, that’s a new beginning, and I leave the old, bad feelings or things behind.”
She said life’s events come and go, the good and the bad, “but if you try to keep smiling, you never know whose life you can or will brighten.”
Edina will graduate from Rogers with a 3.36 g.p.a. and attend Western Washington University this fall – once she gets her financial aid situation straightened out, a task complicated by having an AWOL father and a deceased mother.
She doesn’t know yet what she will major in but hopes she will find a career that will allow her to travel. She takes easily to languages and is working to master three phrases – “Hello,” “Where is the bathroom?” and “I’m hungry” – in as many languages as she can. So far, she’s closing in on French, Spanish, German, Japanese and Arabic.
Her motto in life comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
She adds to that: “I want to make it a goal to beautify the world, to give back. I’ve been blessed, really I have, and I would like to give a little bit back to the world.”