Bethany Anne Phelps
May 6, 2003 - November 24, 2019
Our incredible, beautiful and very special Bethany lived her 16 years climbing trees, planting flowers, and drawing beautiful pictures.
She wanted to live every day as fully as possible. She believed in all that was magical and beautiful in the world.
Bethany always wanted to do the right thing.
She was the sweetest, smartest, most clever, artistic, creative and extremely imaginative girl.
She was always incredibly kind, generous, caring, and nice to everybody she met.
Her sweetness and compassionate personality touched all who knew her and for that she was very loved by a wide circle of people, family and friends. She was full of life and spirit and energy and she left us far too soon.
Bethany was too special for this world, and it is smaller for the loss of her. Our hearts are forever broken.
Those who survive her – mother Mijiko, father Morgan, sisters Emma and Kate, her grandparents and the rest of her extended family – suffer the awful and unimaginable heartbreak of this loss.
We miss her beyond words.
We love you so much B-Bone and you will be in our hearts always.
Bethany Anne Phelps, also known as B, B-bone, Beasley, SweetB, and little B.
Our sweet and beautiful and special Bethany was born at 11am on May 6, 2003. A couple days after she was born, we were told she had come up positive with a newborn metabolic disorder. We thought she was going to die or have a short life of suffering. Fortunately the metabolic disorder turned out to be almost nothing of concern. And she was to live a life of happiness. But still tragically way too short.
As early as 5 1/2 months, she climbed up the rails of the crib and started walking. She was just always full of energy. From this moment, we knew Bethany always wanted to climb. Climb up and up. Always trying to go higher.
When she first started talking, she seemed to stutter her sentences. We took her to the pediatrician worried she needed speech therapy. He explained that Bethany wasn’t stuttering but that she was just thinking so fast her mouth couldn’t catch up. You could literally see her excitedly thinking all the time and happily trying to explain it to us.
She also used to blink all the time because she saw so many things, taking it all in. People used to always tell us she had huge eyes as a child. She tried to absorb everything the world showed her and she took it all in with all her extremely acute senses in an incredible magnitude. She noticed every detail and was always full of curiousity and joyful innocent spirit.
We knew what made Bethany truly special very early on.
She was the sweetest girl; the most compassionate and pure of heart.
These were the traits that everybody quickly recognized in her.
She was always like this.
One day, when she was quite young, she picked a tomato from our garden. She named her tomato Reggie and made a little bed for it so it could sleep next to her. She carried Reggie around in a handkerchief to show him the things she saw. After some time, we finally had to strongly encourage Bethany to return Reggie to nature. We buried him near the tree in our yard. Since that day, Bethany never ate a tomato and frequently rescued tomatoes from dinner tables from “being brutally murdered.”
Bethany’s sweetness even extended to bugs. She didn’t like bugs but still wanted to make sure even the tiniest creature was protected. A week before she passed, Bethany called upset because there was a particularly ugly bug in her room. She caught the bug on her own; but instead of flushing it down the toilet as we had suggested, she bravely took it to the garage and released it. When we asked her why she released in the garage and not outside, she said she didn’t want the bug to be cold.
One winter, our Bethany made a little Olaf out of snow. She loved that little snowman, but after a few days, the temperature started to get warm. She was desperate to protect him so begged us to put him in the freezer so he could stay cold and she could keep her friend. Of course we put him in and he stayed for years.
Recently, she became very interested in protecting coral reefs. She read books about it, wrote a report on it and felt strongly over the loss of all the pretty coral and the surrounding sea life.
She loved life. All forms of life.
Bethany’s compassion and truly sweet heart extended beyond nature. She really really tried to be good to everyone she met. She tried to be fair in everything she did. She tried to do the right thing always. When she talked about her friends with us, she never had a negative word to say about anyone. Everybody that knew Bethany knew her good heart.
So much of Bethany’s life revolved around her huge imagination. In her mind, she lived in a fairytale world in which everything was beautiful, everybody was friendly, and it was warm and sunny. She loved nature, and just like a girl from a fairy tale, she would talk to trees and play music to plants and flowers.
Bethany was always a climber. When she was younger, we might turn a corner in the house and see she had climbed a door frame and was up at the ceiling. She was also a talented rock climber; but her true climbing passion was trees. Outside she was always in the trees going as high as she could. She just wanted to be connected to nature and the sky where she always felt the happiest.
Shortly before she passed, we remember asking her about the things she liked, what she wanted the world to be like. Her answer was pure just like she was. She said she just liked to imagine pretty fields of flowers and pumpkin patches and mason jars. A place where she could do her crafts and paint everyday.
She really belonged in that fairytale world.
Growing up Bethany had a couple of very close friends. Some of them are here today and we truly appreciate that and their friendship with Bethany.
But her closest friend was a stuffed horse named Unie (sitting right here). Bethany got Unie when she was 2 years old and the two were inseparable for most of the next 14 years.
Bethany and Unie were like Calvin and Hobbes. Unie was Bethany’s confidant and partner in all her adventures. Unie would be up in the trees with her, on ziplines with her, in boats with her. Bethany would take her everywhere she went and we would often find her talking to Unie about the things she was happy or sad about. We knew that Unie was an integral part of the family.
Bethany had an incredibly artistic mind. She was always creating, decorating and making things more beautiful. She had sketchbooks everywhere and took over a whole corner of our house to make into a studio in which she dedicated to making her crafts. Bethany would draw every single day. She would contantly teach herself new crafts and learn new artistic skills. She’d watch videos in her craft area and teach herself how to make soap, clay sculptures, handmade greeting and motivational cards, sewing, origami, decorations and sketches and paintings.
Every birthday and holiday, we would look forward to the wonderful handmade cards, poems or other types of crafts she would make for us. She made a piece of art every single day since she could pick up a pencil. Her room was beautifully decorated with pictures, books, and plants. She made her bed and tidied her room almost everyday - she said she wanted to come home to her pretty room because it made her happy.
Bethany was naturally smart - she was a deep thinker and grasped abstract concepts quickly and naturally. But she also worked hard because she had personal goals of academic achievement. When she was in middle school, a teacher had kindly emailed us to say she wished she could clone Bethany and have an entire classroom of Bethanys. We were extremely proud of her for all her academic achievements but mostly because we knew how hard she worked to achieve any goals she set.
Bethany was also quite athletic. She was a competitive rock climber when she was young. She could scale up the highest wall like a little monkey. She wasn’t motivated by competition of it; rather, it was clear she was motivated for the pure enjoyment of the sport and doing well for herself. She also loved cross country but not particularly because she loved running. She loved her team. She loved her friends on the team. She loved the camaraderie.
Bethany was the sweetest sister. A good sister. When we homeschooled, she would pretend to homeschool Kate. She taught Kate arithmetic and reading and always gave her A+’s. She taught Kate good manners and made achievement badges for Kate. She and Emma used to gather up all their stuffed animals and fill the stairwell and pretend they were on a train ride.
Bethany loved her sisters, loved to live in pretend worlds with them, play with them, run with them, go on vacations and adventures with them. They used to make homemade videos and plays together and give us constant live performances of dancing, stories, and fashion shows. Emma would be the director and cameraman. Emma and Bethany would be the main writers. And Bethany and Kate would be the actors.
In most recent years, Bethany looked at Emma as a role model. She looked up to her big sister. And she really wanted to be a good big sister to Kate.
Bethany was the best daughter any parent could wish for. She was loving, affectionate, sweet, kind, beautiful, hardworking and good. We know all parents think that of their child. But we truly knew how very very special she was. She would always set up elaborate birthday parties for us full of handmade decorations and performances. She would set up tea parties and restaurants for us - having us dress up in our nice clothes and serving us treats in fancy china. She always wanted us to feel better, always gave us loving notes and cards and made picture frames and art and necklaces and signs and books and crafts for us to show her love.
She hugged us tightly and always smiled at us. And we will forever miss her tight hugs and kisses.
To Emma and Kate, we want to say again that Bethany loved you guys so very much. And we know you both loved her.
Her passing has left a tragic hole in our family, but we are still a strong, loving family and we will continue on with her sweet spirit forever in our hearts.
Fairly recently, Bethany struggled with what was diagnosed as mild depression. She was seeing a therapist and trying extremely hard to battle it. She struggled with feelings of sadness and just wanted to go back to what she called “home”. Which was her carefree and happy childhood. She struggled with the hardness, the sometimes ugliness of the world.
She was actually doing better these past few weeks, happier. The day she passed was not a particularly bad day. She woke up a little sad and tired. She declined going out to lunch with us but said she wanted to clean her room and bathroom. We were gone just for an hour. Sometime in that horrific hour, the evil and insidious mental illness that is depression took her.
Depression can act like cancer. Both diseases are cruelly insidious and unpredictable. In cancer, you see uncontrolled cellular division and the spread of malignant cells in the body. With depression, it is the malignant workings of neurotransmitters, chemicals and molecules that affect thinking and mood. Some treatments work, some don’t. Some survive, some tragically do not.
We know Bethany had a strong foundation of true love and care. This was a truly tragic and unimaginable shock.
This horrible disease took her so quickly and unexpectedly. Suicide is how she died but depression is what killed her.
Hers was not an intentional or rational act; but an impulsive outcome of a very complex and difficult disease. Just as cancer invades the body, depression invades the mind.
We truly believe, Bethany was too sweet, too good, and too pure to be a match for the mental illness that took her. She was a fairy girl whose mind just couldn’t comprehend the dark things the disease put in her mind.
After Bethany passed, we looked at her last internet search term. It was just the word “butterfly". It was just so appropriate.
Unfinished Painting by Bethany Phelps.
She painted it the day before she passed.
Bethany lived her life like a butterfly.
Like a butterfly, she was so delicate, so innocent, so beautiful and so pure.
She flew around the world bringing beauty and joy everywhere she went and never any harm.
But like a butterfly, she was fleeting.
We didn’t get to see enough of her before she flew away.
B-Bone, we will always love you to Pluto and back.
We love you so much and forever, our baby. Our beautiful sweet girl.
We will see you again some day.
Your soul takes flight to the world that is invisible but there arriving you are sure of bliss and will forever dwell in paradise.