There were tears and laughter from family and friends on Saturday (June 26) as they remembered a 23-year-old Chilliwack mother who was missing for more than four months.
About 50 people gathered for Shaelene Keeler Bell’s celebration of life at Sandpiper Resort in Harrison Mills overlooking the Harrison River. That river connects to the Fraser River which tragically took her life in January.
Messages written by friends and family were read that afternoon by Danny Evans, Bell’s uncle.
“I want to thank you for enriching my life. You will be truly missed,” wrote Alina Durham, Bell’s mother. “As a mother, I did not and do not want to say goodbye to my precious daughter, but sometimes God has other plans.
“You came into my life and fulfilled me perfectly. You are always on my mind and will be in my heart forever. Until we meet again, rest in peace. Mama loves you.”
Evans went on to read messages from Bell’s siblings.
“She was my best friend,” sister Stephanie Bell-Pollard wrote. “I honestly don’t know how I’m going to live without you. Rest in peace, baby sister.”
She was a “beautiful human being, inside and out,” wrote Bell’s other two siblings, Brittney and Dallas Durham.
Bell was described as a firecracker who was funny, loud and truly cared about other people. When she became a mother, she also became a “mama bear,” Evans said.
Durham described her daughter as “kind, loving, warm and smart.” She was a straight-A student, one of her aunts added.
The family thanked the community of Chilliwack for its ongoing support throughout the four months Bell was missing. The GoFundMe account which was set up in February to help with search efforts and for Bell’s two boys will now be going to the latter cause as they learn to live without their mother.
“The generosity was overwhelming and words cannot express how grateful we are,” the family stated. They went on to thank the family of Trina Hunt for their support and contribution to the GoFundMe.
At the end of the ceremony, two doves were released – one for every person whose life was touched by Bell and one for her soul going up to heaven.
Durham is asking people to make a donation to BC Children’s Hospital in memory of her daughter as one of Bell’s two boys has been a patient there for most of the last two years, and last year he was the poster child for an annual pancake fundraiser for the hospital.
To make a donation, go to bcchildrens.ca/donate.
The family purchased a commemorative tree via the Rotary Club of Chilliwack. It will be planted at a later date and will be a place for Bell’s two boys to visit and remember their mother, Durham said.
Additionally, the family is asking anyone who sees missing posters up for Bell around town to please remove them.
Bell’s body was found on June 2 in the Fraser River near Coquitlam, more than four months after she went missing on Jan. 30 in Chilliwack.
There was “no evidence to support criminal involvement in this death; however, the BC Coroners Service is conducting its own fact-finding investigation to determine how, where, when and by what means the death occurred,” Chilliwack RCMP said in the June 3 release.