In the last few weeks, a number of BBEST members have lost family members or friends who have succumbed to serious illnesses or long-term diseases. One of the advantages of belonging to an Etsy street team like BBEST is that when these personal losses occur, team members typically express messages of hope and support. Although I have not lost a family member recently, a close friend of mine did. The story of her daughter, Maura, was followed by many on the BBEST team, who posted messages of support on her mother’s blog, lit candles for Maura, and said prayers. This post is dedicated not only to Maura, but also to the memory of anyone we have recently loved and lost.

Maura was a 22-year-old college student at Sam Houston State University in Houston, Texas. She majored in music with an emphasis in voice. (See news story and video here.) Everyone who knew Maura thought of her not only as a talented opera singer, but also as a kind and compassionate person—someone who was inspiring and a wonderful role model. One year ago, she was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of sarcoma when tumors were discovered in her abdomen. From that point on, she dedicated herself to a rigorous course of medical treatments including surgery and chemo. At the same time, she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree, earning magna cum laude honors. Because Maura was too ill to attend her own commencement exercises, the administration of her college brought graduation to her hospital room. One week later at her home, she passed away.

Maura’s favorite flower was the sunflower, a flower whose stalk stretches tall and whose bright yellow head faces the sky in the same way that Maura carried herself throughout her short life. Many were touched by her struggle to stay alive, and by her faith. At her funeral, about 800 family members and friends filled the church with the sunflowers she loved. While none of the BBEST members who followed her story were able to attend Maura’s funeral, we can still honor her memory in our own way, and at the same time bid a last farewell to those we have recently lost. That being said, below are “sunflowers” in the BBEST tradition.

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