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Yesterday when the Darren Wilson verdict was handed down, my heart sank. I woke up this morning feeling like it was all a bad dream, but it quickly hit me that last night was not a dream, but a reality—a reality that sadly continues to repeat itself. Not only does November 25, 2014 mark the day after the nation was informed that it’s perfectly legal for a cop to gun down an unarmed teenage boy simply because his skin is brown; it also marks the eight year anniversary of Sean Bell’s death.

On this day in 2006, Bell, who was also unarmed, was gunned down by NYPD officers outside of Club Kalua in Queens. November 25, 2006 was also the day he was supposed to marry his fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell. Unfortunately, Bell never made it the altar to meet his bride.

“Sean took the word family so seriously. He wanted a huge family,” Paultre Bell recalled during a recent chat with Essence.

The couple shared two daughters, 12-year-old Jada Bell and 8-year-old Jordyn Bell. Paultre Bell says that her girls are truly what keep her going.

“When I think of how far I have come, I clearly see that my daughters are the ones who grounded me through the trials and tribulations and the depression. They were the light at the end of the tunnel. But for a long time after Sean died I didn’t see any happiness at all,” she confessed. “I depended on family to get me up in the morning, to open the blinds and to change the baby’s diapers.”

Thankfully, her story doesn’t end with tragedy. After receiving blessings from both her and Bell’s families, Paultre Bell recently married a former college classmate. They share a daughter, 1-year-old Annabelle Summer. The 30-year-old is currently enrolled in a pre-law program at St. Johns Law and has aspirations of becoming a civil rights attorney.

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